Opinion

The Great Debate

What’s behind the downing of Flight MH17 over Ukraine, and what happens next? Five smart views.

By Helen Coster
July 18, 2014

Armed pro-Russian separatist stands at a site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region

On Thursday Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, with 298 people on board, was shot down over Grabovo, Ukraine, by what officials have described as a Russian-made antiaircraft missile. As investigators uncover details of the attack — including the origins of the missile — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s role in the Ukraine crisis will come under renewed scrutiny. Below are five takes on what happened and why, as well as what the consequences will be.

 The Daily Beast: Why Putin let MH17 get shot down
James Miller questions why Putin would allow the separatists to have a weapon capable of downing a commercial plane, without controlling how it was used. “This is an advanced and battle-proven series of highly sophisticated vehicles which coordinate to track targets with radar and fire missiles so advanced that they were designed to knock smart bombs and cruise missiles out of the sky. Whoever launched this weapon was highly trained and extremely well-equipped.” He explains how the owners of the Buk surface-to-air missile system, which likely brought down the plane, could have confused a commercial airliner for a military jet. (The system works properly, Miller says, when used in tandem with various radar systems.) “Putin’s urgency in Ukraine has turned to recklessness,” writes Miller, and Thursday’s events epitomize that recklessness.

The New Republic: The crash of Malaysia Flight 17 is a game changer: This conflict is now officially out of control
If pro-Russia separatists are indeed responsible for the downed plane, writes The New Republic’s Julia Ioffe, the conflict will enter a new phase, “one that directly threatens European security. The plane, let’s recall, was flying from Amsterdam.”

The New Yorker: After the crash
Vladmir Putin is risking “unanticipated disasters” by fueling a military proxy war in eastern Ukraine, writes New Yorker editor David Remnick. Driven by “resentment and fury towards the West and the leaders in Kiev” Putin has “fanned a kind of prolonged political frenzy, both in Russia and among his confederates in Ukraine, that serves his immediate political needs but that he can no longer easily calibrate and control.”

Foreign Affairs: War comes to Ukraine: The consequences of the crash in Donetsk
Until yesterday, writes Alexander J. Motyl, the recent escalation of Russian military involvement in Ukraine had gone relatively unnoticed in Western media. Now things are about to change, regardless of who shot down the plane. While direct Western military intervention in Ukraine remains unlikely, the U.S. may now consider other forms of military assistance. “War, unthinkable in Europe for so long, has truly come to the continent.”

The New York Times: Vladimir Putin can stop this war: downing of Malaysia jet is a call to end Ukraine conflict
Vladimir Putin is the one man who can stop the Ukrainian conflict, says the Times’ editorial board. Instead, he’s only exacerbating the problem — driven by his desire to hurt and punish Ukraine.

PHOTO: An armed pro-Russian separatist stands at a site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014.  REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

Comments
5 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Cui bono?

Posted by xcanada2 | Report as abusive
 

Might I point out that the Ukrainian Army also has this rocket system.

Posted by SR37212 | Report as abusive
 

Some kind of false flag ?

Posted by Butch_from_PA | Report as abusive
 

How about NATO occupying Ukraine? Stabilize the borders with Russia; and allow the Ukraine government time to develope their own army to an effective level.

Posted by twinapache | Report as abusive
 

A bitter, defeated nation annexes a portion of land from a weaker neighbor, and Europe looks on and does nothing. Haven’t we already done this? Are our memories so short?

Posted by Blackshirt | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •