The Russian Ministry of Defense has just held a press conference on the downed Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), lost last week in southeastern Ukraine, in territory under the Kremlin’s control. Moscow’s handle on disinformation is slipping, as current spin is transparently implausible. This bodes poorly for peace and stability in Europe, and speaks volumes — none of them edifying or pleasant — about the Kremlin’s state of mind at the moment.
Propaganda works, and there is no doubt that most Russians believe Kremlin lies about MH17. However, there is dissent, even if not much of it. Today, the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, practically the last independent media outlet in Russia that’s willing to strongly criticize Putin and the intelligence services (not coincidentally, four NG reporters, most famously Anna Politovskaya, have been murdered since 2001, usually under “mysterious circumstances”), published a dissenting account. The piece by Yuliya Latynina is titled, “The Main Thing is — Whose ‘Buk’ is This?” and is a stinging indictment of Kremlin disinformation and flat-out lies about MH17 and much else in Ukraine. I pass it on in its entirety, as it deserves a wide audience:
On 17 July at 17:50 a “report from the home guard” summary was published “From Strelkov, Igor Ivanovich”: “In the region of Torez an An-26 aircraft was just shot down somewhere beyond the ‘Progress’ mine. They had been warned: do not fly in our skies. And there is a video confirming the latest ‘bird strike.’ The bird fell beyond the mine dump, the residential sector was not hit, and the peaceful people were not injured.”
But the joy of the avengers of the crucified boy on Channel One* proved to be premature. Within ten minutes it was revealed that it was not an aircraft of the Ukrainian fascists that was shot down, but a Malaysian Boeing flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Almost three hundred people died. The debris and the remains were scattered over the territory for nine kilometers.
There is practically no doubt that the aircraft was shot down by the separatists.
In the first place, they proudly reported this themselves, and the Ukrainian side has already published an intercept of their conversations about this (incidentally, the authenticity of the audio recording still needs to be verified, of course).
In the second place, yesterday, also at a very high altitude, a Ukrainian Su-25 ground attack bomber was also shot down.
In the third place, there is no reason for the Ukrainians to use air defense assets in the zone of the Anti-Terrorist Operation: the separatists do not yet have combat aviation.
In the fourth place, the Malaysian aircraft was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, i.e., from the side of Ukraine, it was being controlled by Ukrainian dispatchers, and the Ukrainian side was perfectly well informed of the presence of this aircraft in this section of the air space. The separatists had not been informed about anything, except of the crucified boy on Channel One.
They could have had a Buk able to shoot down aircraft at altitudes up to 18,000 meters. On 29 June, the separatists themselves boasted that they had taken a battery of Buks in Donetsk, and on the morning of 17 July the local supporters of Ukraine recorded the movement of at least one Buk, from Torez to Snezhnoye, and they reported this to the Ukrainian military. Judging from all accounts, the Ukrainians also recorded the launch of the missile, and it was precisely recorded by the Americans who are attentively tracking the increasingly expanding flow of weapons across the Russian border and who had just imposed the latest set of sanctions against Russia for precisely this reason.
Much will now depend on just where the Buk originated. Was it a trophy of war or something worse? But in any case what happened was a consequence of the fact that the separatists have been armed with serious weapons. Imagine who could be competent to sit behind the fire control panel of this Buk? A professional military person? Really? Or an ordinary soldier who had found no place in civilian life, who was unqualified, but now was heaping all of his resentments on the “Ukrainian fascists”? Give a Buk to a “group of miners” and sooner or later you will have problems.
What happened was a consequence of the complete impunity that is evident in the public relations war. And what does one have to be ashamed of? After all, every shell that hits a peaceful home is transformed in TV reports into a round launched by “Ukrainian fascists.” The passage “a peaceful aircraft shotdown by Ukrainian fascists in order to blame Russia” occupies its rightful place beside the crucified boy in Slavyansk and the local population cut off in the village of Schastye. And the divide between Russia and the civilized world will become even deeper.
Even the Palestinian terrorists do not have Buks and therefore they are not able to realize the eternal dream of the Arab people, to shoot down a passenger liner over Tel Aviv. The Donetsk separatists, judging from all accounts, in one sweep have even surpassed both the Syrians and the Palestinians and they have indeed realized the eternal Arab dream.
*This is a reference to a recent Kremlin lie about Ukrainian forces crucifying Russians, which appeared in global media and was later refuted entirely.