Close to 300 people (including up to 80 children) flying on vacation or business from Amsterdam to Malaysia were murdered by a Russian missile. Here’s the big problem all the nations are facing: the vehicle which launched the missile is in Russia. It is highly probably that it was launched by Russian military forces. The United States and the rest of the world has to figure out how to handle this rogue nation.
Much of the media is reporting the missile was fired by Ukrainian separatists in the civil war in Ukraine. That is wrong. First there is no civil war. It is an attack on Eastern Ukraine by Russian forces and Russian sponsored forces. The tanks, artillery and other heavy military equipment come in from Russia.
Leave that aside, even if you want to call them Ukrainian separatists, they did not fire the missile. They don’t have the capability, knowledge or training to do this. The Russians fired it from Russian soil.
Over the past month three Ukrainian military planes have been shot down. In one 40 Ukrainians soldiers lost their lives; in another a Ukrainian fighter plane was shot down by an air-to-air missile fired by a Russian plane. (The so-called separatist have no planes.) These too were shot down by Russian forces. The “separatists” claimed responsibility hiding the Russian involvement. It is deja vu, those forces in unmarked uniforms and in vehicles without insignia who invaded Crimea were not supposed to be Russian soldiers but all knew that they were.
Now we are at the moment of truth. Will the United States and Europe put the blame on the Russians? A day after the incident what is most noticeable is the silence from the U.S. and Europe concerning this Russian act. The problem is if they blame Russia then they should do something about this brazen act of terror.
I’m not suggesting the Russians shot down the civilian plane deliberately. They thought they were firing at a Ukrainian military plane. Their mistake though has made it blatantly clear that Russia is actively engaged in attacking Ukraine.
This the United States knew. We had compelling evidence of this which forced President Obama into increasing the sanctions on Russia the day before the downing of the aircraft. Obama’s timidity in the face of increasing Russian intrusions into Ukraine is understandable but does not reflect leadership. He’s very reluctant to go it alone because of the great pressures on him not to do this. I give him credit for taking the baby steps that he has done even though it is to pacify the U.S. intelligence community that stares in wonderment at his acceptance of Russia’s bold truculence.
I wrote the other day about the Putin-Merkel pact. I still cannot understand how Merkel has forgiven Putin for his invasion of Ukraine’s Crimea and absorbing it into Russia which happened only four months ago. I suggested that and her failure to condemn Russia’s present aggression against Ukraine gave Putin the green light to continue his activities.
Obama is perplexed, which is not a good thing for an American president. Most of our nation cares little about Ukraine so there is no mandate he do anything. Unlike Reagan who boldly condemned the Soviets downing of a civilian aircraft calling them a nation of barbarians, Obama feels no passion for this issue. The question is whether he will try to hide our knowledge that the Russians fired the missile so he can continue his bland approach.
The pusillanimous European nations tiptoe around their knowledge that the Russians fired the missile. 24 hours later their perplexity at what to do is magnified by their silence. Are they constrained by the Putin-Merkel agreement? Is Merkel’s friendship with Putin determining the German inaction in the face of this atrocity?
The Russians know exactly what happened. They are in full propaganda mode blaming Ukraine. The blood of 300 innocents is on Putin’s hands. This is a moment of high decision. Putin has been allowed to seize Crimea; he has been allowed to invade Eastern Ukraine using the trickle-in method; he has now shot down a civilian airline. If he is again pampered and given a pass, we will be back in the 1930s when the same thing happened as Germany engaged in invasions and atrocities and the world looked the other way.