Does New Evi­dence Impli­ca­te Vla­di­mir Putin in Brin­ging Down Malay­sia Air­lines Flight 17?

Lese­zeit8 min

On 8 Febru­ary the acclai­med jour­na­list, Sey­mour Hersh, published his bomb­s­hell pie­ce on Sub​stack​.com about how the US and Nor­way plan­ned the des­truc­tion of Europe’s gas life­line. Dis­cus­sions had alre­a­dy begun well befo­re Rus­sia inter­ven­ed in Ukrai­ne. During the Bal­tops NATO naval exer­ci­s­es near the Danish island of Born­holm in June 2022, US Navy divers pla­ced the explo­si­ve char­ges on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipe­lines. On 26 Sep­tem­ber a Nor­we­gi­an navy pla­ne drop­ped the sonar buoy to deto­na­te the bombs and the chan­ce that the EU might adopt a »Japa­ne­se solu­ti­on« (exclu­ding ener­gy from the anti-Rus­si­an sanc­tions) was foreclosed.

On the same day that Hersh’s pie­ce came out, the Joint Inves­ti­ga­ti­on Team (JIT), tas­ked with the pro­se­cu­ti­on of the per­pe­tra­tors behind the dow­ning of Malay­si­an Air­lines Flight MH17 on 17 July 2014, published a par­al­lel report. It claims that Rus­si­an pre­si­dent Putin per­so­nal­ly had orde­red the trans­fer of hea­vy anti-air­craft mis­siles to the Don­bass rebels.

Sin­ce the JIT ope­ra­tes very slow­ly (if only becau­se all con­clu­si­ons must be vet­ted by the Kiev regime’s repre­sen­ta­ti­ves before­hand), we can rule out that this was an attempt to dis­tract from the Hersh reve­la­ti­on about the Nord Stream explosion.

The rela­ti­on is sym­bo­lic, alt­hough it cer­tain­ly works as a (minor) distraction.

At a moment when the pre­dic­ted out­co­me of the NATO pro­xy war against Rus­sia, in which the Kiev forces trai­ned and equip­ped sin­ce the US-direc­ted coup in Febru­ary 2014 are being expen­ded, is tur­ning out an illu­si­on, every pos­si­ble ideo­lo­gi­cal prop to keep vili­fy­ing »Putin« as the source of all evil, must be fielded.

So what does the new evi­dence boil down to?

Sup­po­sedly (alt­hough the JIT report adds that it can­not be pro­ven) Putin was pre­sen­ted with the request from the Don­bass rebels for more effec­ti­ve anti-air­craft wea­pons whilst he was in Nor­man­dy on 6 June 2014 for the com­me­mo­ra­ti­on of the 1944 Allied landings the­re. The OK for this request would make the Rus­si­an pre­si­dent direct­ly respon­si­ble for the even­tu­al drama.

We know that during the Nor­man­dy visit Putin agreed with his Kiev coun­ter­part, Petro Poros­hen­ko, to begin talks on a ceas­e­fi­re in the Don­bass. Two days later, a Rus­si­an envoy actual­ly arri­ved in Kiev to prepa­re such nego­tia­ti­ons. That this was taken very serious­ly can be read from the decis­i­on by the Rus­si­an Fede­ra­ti­on Coun­cil on 24 June to revo­ke the president’s aut­ho­ri­ty to deploy Rus­si­an tro­ops abroad. This aut­ho­ri­ty had ori­gi­nal­ly been gran­ted to pro­tect Cri­mea after it deci­ded to hold a refe­ren­dum on seces­si­on from Ukrai­ne fol­lo­wing the natio­na­list coup.

So during the enti­re month of June, the Rus­si­an side was com­mit­ted, through veri­fia­ble acts from the pre­si­dent down, to con­tai­ning the con­se­quen­ces of the coup. Would it be likely then that Putin would simul­ta­neous­ly have orde­red a qua­li­ta­ti­ve upgrade of the Don­bass rebels’ anti-air­craft equip­ment? And would he have signed off this tech­ni­cal mili­ta­ry mat­ter whilst in Nor­man­dy on a busy sche­du­le, ins­tead of wai­ting for his return to Moscow?

Inde­ed even in July, Russia’s inten­ti­on was to try and con­tain the post-coup situa­ti­on in Ukrai­ne. This was after the Kiev side had resu­med the fight­ing. For Poros­hen­ko had not been able to hold out against the Ukrai­ni­an ultras with whom he con­fer­red on the last days of June, and who wan­ted to con­ti­nue the so-cal­led Anti-Ter­ro­rist Ope­ra­ti­on against the Don­bass rebels.

Putin mean­while con­duc­ted a tour of Latin Ame­ri­ca that ended in Bra­zil, whe­re he con­fer­red with the heads of sta­te of the BRICS count­ries to move for­ward the estab­lish­ment of a spe­cial deve­lo­p­ment bank for the five count­ries, with a mone­ta­ry fund atta­ched to it – a direct chall­enge to the US-domi­na­ted World Bank/​IMF com­bi­na­ti­on. Also, Putin had a mee­ting with Ange­la Mer­kel, the Ger­man chan­cell­or who hap­pen­ed to be in Bra­zil too for the finals of the foot­ball world cham­pi­on­ship. With her, he agreed to begin nego­tia­ti­ons on a sett­le­ment of the con­flict in Ukrai­ne, inclu­ding the defi­ni­ti­ve sta­tus of Cri­mea. Given the importance of gas pipe­lines for the eco­no­mic reha­bi­li­ta­ti­on of the war-torn coun­try, this port­fo­lio was ent­rus­ted to Dmy­t­ro Fir­tash, the Ukrai­ni­an olig­arch gene­ral­ly seen as the main part­ner of Russia’s Gaz­prom in the country.

On 16 July 2014 the US, obvious­ly in respon­se to the BRICS bank pro­ject, impo­sed new sanc­tions on Rus­sia, focu­sing spe­ci­fi­cal­ly on ener­gy. Howe­ver, unli­ke pre­vious puni­ti­ve mea­su­res, this time the EU was not able to reach agree­ment to fol­low suit. Seve­ral count­ries resis­ted har­ming their gas and oil sup­p­ly. In fact, work on a new gas pipe­line across the Black Sea, South Stream, inten­ded to com­ple­ment Nord Stream, had begun in 2012 and would link Rus­sia to Bul­ga­ria and on to Ita­ly and Austria.

It was only after Flight MH17 was brought down the next day that the EU fell in line, and the Putin-Mer­kel agree­ment, too, fell by the way­si­de. South Stream had alre­a­dy taken a hit the month befo­re when Bul­ga­ria yiel­ded to inten­se US pres­su­re to stop work on the pipe­line; later in the year it would be shel­ved altogether.

The­re are many other aspects that may have play­ed a role, such as the mili­ta­ry situa­ti­on in the Don­bass, whe­re after initi­al suc­ces­ses, the Kiev forces had beco­me bog­ged down near the Rus­si­an bor­der, right in the cor­ri­dor whe­re MH17 would come down. Also, later reve­la­ti­ons by a Ukrai­ni­an defec­tor – Col. Vasi­ly Pro­zo­rov of the country’s secu­ri­ty ser­vice – have docu­men­ted a plan­ning mee­ting with Bri­tish intel­li­gence to work out a fal­se flag ope­ra­ti­on in order to incri­mi­na­te Rus­sia, pos­si­bly to shore up unity at the upco­ming NATO sum­mit in Wales in September.

The­re are many uncer­tain­ties sur­roun­ding the cir­cum­s­tances of the MH17 dis­as­ter but none have ham­pe­red the tech­ni­cal and cri­mi­nal inves­ti­ga­ti­on fol­lo­wed by a tri­al held in the Net­her­lands. Mid-Novem­ber 2022 the court con­vic­ted (in absen­tia) three pre­su­med per­pe­tra­tors (two Rus­si­ans and one rebel Ukrai­ni­an) to life impri­son­ment. One suspect, who wise­ly cho­se not to attend eit­her but was repre­sen­ted by a defence team at the tri­al, was acquit­ted, alt­hough the pro­of against him was not dif­fe­rent from that held against his fel­low com­man­ders. Accor­ding to Dutch jour­na­list Eric van de Beek, the acquit­tal was pro­ba­b­ly moti­va­ted by the risk of an appeal, in which the qua­li­ty of the evi­dence would have to be scru­ti­ni­sed again.

So what was the evidence? 

The tech­ni­cal inves­ti­ga­ti­on, led by the Dutch Safe­ty Board under a con­fi­den­tia­li­ty agree­ment with its Ukrai­ni­an coun­ter­part, had con­cluded that the Malay­si­an Boe­ing had been brought down by a Buk inter­me­dia­te ran­ge anti-air­craft mis­sile. This had to be a Rus­si­an ver­si­on becau­se, out of the two-and-a-half thousand which a Buk war­head con­ta­ins of that type, the­re were two pie­ces found in the wrecka­ge. The­se were clai­med to have the but­ter­fly shape that only the Rus­si­an ver­si­on has. Whoe­ver looks at the­se frag­ments as pic­tu­red in the DSB final report and com­pa­res them to their shape (plus weight, thic­k­ness etc.) befo­re impact, will under­stand that in com­bi­na­ti­on with the num­ber of frag­ments found, this is an obvious hoax. The­re are many other incon­grui­ties which lead to the con­clu­si­on that the main goal of the DSB report was to incri­mi­na­te Russia.

NATO intel­li­gence has repor­ted that no Rus­si­an anti-air­craft equip­ment other than the ligh­ter, short-ran­ge mis­siles the Don­bass rebels alre­a­dy had, had crossed into Ukrai­ne; no cre­di­ble wit­ness had seen the laun­ching of a mis­sile eit­her, alt­hough scores of wit­nesses had obser­ved jet figh­ters. Alt­hough the Boe­ing is a very lar­ge object fly­ing in a straight line, the sup­po­sed Buk missed the tar­get and explo­ded through a pro­xi­mi­ty fuse near the cock­pit win­dow. The Boe­ing then bro­ke up in sepa­ra­te pie­ces through an obvious explo­si­on insi­de the pla­ne, for which an ille­gal car­go 1.4 ton­nes of lithi­um-ion bat­te­ries may have been respon­si­ble — a car­go qua­li­fied by the DSB as »a sin­gle bat­tery, well-packaged«.

This then was the basis for cri­mi­nal pro­se­cu­ti­on by the JIT, again led by the Dutch public pro­se­cu­ti­on ser­vice and with the Kiev regime on board (as well as Aus­tra­lia, Bel­gi­um, and, with a delay, Malay­sia). Once again, a con­fi­den­tia­li­ty agree­ment ensu­red that Kiev had a veto on any out­co­mes. The ‘Buk theo­ry’ was con­firm­ed in spi­te of gla­ring irre­gu­la­ri­ties, first by the JIT inves­ti­ga­ti­on and then in the tri­al, which had the desi­red outcome.

Yet this out­co­me was obvious­ly unsa­tis­fac­to­ry becau­se only local com­man­ders were in the dock, none of them show­ed up, and only one reco­g­nis­ed the juris­dic­tion of the Dutch court. Alre­a­dy at the stage of the DSB inves­ti­ga­ti­on, fin­gers had been poin­ting at the Kreml­in. And now, in the midst of a NATO pro­xy war against Rus­sia that is not going accor­ding to plan and is in the pro­cess of com­ple­te­ly des­troy­ing what remains of Ukrai­ne, the JIT comes up with »new fin­dings« impli­ca­ting Putin personally.

Kees van der Pijl (born 15 June 1947) is a Dutch poli­ti­cal sci­en­tist who was pro­fes­sor of inter­na­tio­nal rela­ti­ons at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Sus­sex. He is known for his cri­ti­cal approach to glo­bal poli­ti­cal eco­no­my and has published, among­st others, Flight MH17, Ukrai­ne and the New Cold War. Prism of Dis­as­ter (2018), a tri­lo­gy on Modes of For­eign Rela­ti­ons and Poli­ti­cal Eco­no­my (2007, 2010, 2014); Glo­bal Rival­ries from the Cold War to Iraq (2006); Trans­na­tio­nal Clas­ses and Inter­na­tio­nal Rela­ti­ons (1998); and The Making of an Atlan­tic Ruling Class (1984, reprin­ted 2012). His most recent work Sta­tes of Emer­gen­cy: Kee­ping the Glo­bal Popu­la­ti­on in Check tre­ats the Covid-Hoax as a pre­ven­ti­ve coun­ter-revo­lu­ti­on of the ruling clas­ses in order to pre­vent a demo­cra­tic and ega­li­ta­ri­an socie­ty fue­led by the revo­lu­ti­on in infor­ma­ti­on technology.

Image: Wiki­me­dia Com­mons con­tri­bu­tors, »File:9M38M1 9M317.svg,« Wiki­me­dia Com­mons, the free media repo­si­to­ry, https://​com​mons​.wiki​me​dia​.org/​w​/​i​n​d​e​x​.​p​h​p​?​t​i​t​l​e​=​F​i​l​e​:​9​M​3​8​M​1​_​9​M​3​1​7​.​s​v​g​&​o​l​d​i​d​=​4​6​4​0​8​5​176 (acces­sed Febru­ary 16, 2023).

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