On 8 February the acclaimed journalist, Seymour Hersh, published his bombshell piece on Substack.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.
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