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June 21, 2021

MH17: A global tragedy

Last Thursday, 17 July 2014, as evening was coming, a Boeing-777 belonging to the Malaysian airline (flight MH17) was destroyed by an AA missile near Donetsk, in Eastern Ukraine, in a zone controlled by pro-Russian separatists. On board were 298 people of various nationalities, most of the Dutch, many children (approximately 80), in a civil flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. They all perished.
It was the beginning of a “dossiers” that can change the contemporary history. The ‘local’ war in the east of the Ukrainian state, which involves two states, Russia and Ukraine, the former supporting a pro-Russian guerilla faction that militates for the breaking up of these territories (Lugansk and Donbass, where two republics were proclaimed, recognized by nobody, and where the leaders are Russian citizens, in fact officers of the military intelligence services) and possibly the founding of a new state announced by V. Putin, Novorossia, acquired an undisputable international scale.

Russian separatists, which was immediately heralded on social networks, proved to be a colossal mistake – until proven otherwise – as the crashed liner was not a Ukrainian transport aircraft, but an airplane operated by a foreign company. Immediately the victory announcement was withdrawn and an action of media intoxication was launched, blaming the tragedy on the Ukrainian governmental forces fighting against the rebels. Soon experts evaluated that the plane, flying at more than 10,000 meters altitude, to avoid the ground Russo-Ukrainian war, could only be destroyed by a sophisticated AA installation, manned by specialized personnel, not by amateurish rebels. Russia denied any involvement and Kiev formally considered this act as “terrorist” (as said by President Poroshenko himself) and publicly produced phone records which demonstrate that the rebels are the culprits and the anti-air installation (bearing the military name BUK-M1) was recently brought from Russia and was made available to the separatists, alongside other types of heavy armament. There is a rumor about the installation being handled by Russian citizens and being withdrawn on Russian territory immediately after the event.
Friday, 18 July, US President Barack Obama firmly stated that the airplane was hit by an AA missile launched by pro-Russian separatists from Ukraine and called on Russia to cease the support provided to them and allow the access to the place of the tragedy, so an international investigation of the circumstances of the event can be held and the bodies of the victims can be recovered and repatriated.
In the days that followed, the event acquired a scale which qualifies it as a global tragedy. The international investigation teams, authorized by the Ukrainian sovereign state, are prohibited by the rebels the access to the site of the tragedy – an area with a radius of more than 10 km – and an action of hiding the evidence is initiated, the states whose citizens died are in shock, the leaders of the western world realize the scale of the event and take a clear position. Starting with British PM David Cameron, they admit not having granted the due attention to the action unfolded by pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine with support from Moscow and realize that in Europe there is a war with possible global consequences. Russia is toughly targeted as the moral author of the tragedy – until an independent investigation will establish the circumstances and the culprits will be brought to justice – and is warned that, in absence of open support for probing the event, it is offered the enforcement of the third round of sanctions of the West that started with the forceful intervention in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea in March 2014 through diversion and use of force.
The international public opinion becomes increasingly preoccupied by the event and aware of its enormous possible consequences. There appear the first characterizations of the destruction of the plane as being a “turning point” in in the Ukrainian conflict or an “Eastern European 9/11” (Russian politician B. Nemtov), a “moment of outrage” that must be transformed in a “moment of action”,  “direct result of Russia destabilizing a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity” (D. Cameron). Sunday, the “heavies” of European politics, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and British Premier David Cameron announced that it is imposed the safe access of specialist teams at the site of the tragedy and the recovery of victims and said that “Putin has an important role to play by persuading the separatists to grant access and to work with the international community.”  They also announced that EU must “reconsider its approach to Russia”.
Moscow is made understand that it is the last occasion for showing that it is interested in a solution to the Ukrainian crisis and in changing its own international conduct.
The enormous consequences of this tragedy, a real ‘game changer’ in present international relations, begin to develop. What next?

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