More than a crash

July 18, 2014 - 2:24:19 am

The bringing down of a Malaysian airliner in Ukrainian territory 

will have far-reaching consequences.

The air disaster in Ukraine yesterday is not a crash that can only be reduced to technical banalities. Though the crash has killed all 295 people onboard, it is likely to transcend the element of human tragedy and trigger a flux in relations between a number of nations including Russia, Ukraine, and America’s major allies in the western world. As the world sat up to take note of the crash of Malaysia Airlines MH17 yesterday, there was consternation in the voices of world leaders — after claims that the airliner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. 

The Boeing 777 came down in the province of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. The territory has been controlled by Russia-backed rebels fighting Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko claimed the aircraft was brought down by a rebel-fired missile. The standoff between Kiev and Moscow after the ouster of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has reached a stage when an aircraft belonging to a third nation has been pulled into the controversy. 

Before Malaysian Airlines could completely recover from the loss of Flight MH370 in March, the shock of MH17 has come to haunt it. It is likely that Kuala Lumpur has been plain unlucky — that only its aircraft was targeted.  

As Ukraine blamed Russian separatists for the downing of the plane — Ukrainian intelligence chief claimed that he had transcripts of a conversation between Russian military officers — Moscow shot back. President Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine for the disaster, saying that if Kiev wouldn’t have renewed the offensive against rebels in the east, the incident could have been avoided. 

The crisis in Ukraine, as has been said earlier, doesn’t only affect the region. The Russia-West wrangling is having far-fetched ramifications, especially after Putin annexed Crimea. 

The European Union, which has taken upon himself to defeat Putin’s designs in the former Soviet Republic, needs to be more decisive.  Amid Kiev and Moscow trading allegations over the downing of the plane, the question on the international community’s mind is—who shot down the plane? Was the airliner actually shot down by Russia-backed insurgents, who mistook it to be an aircraft belonging to Ukraine, or was MH17 brought down by a missile that came from some another source. 

Separatists have brought down several Ukrainian planes in the area over months and two have been brought down this week. The freighters brought down this week point to a proclivity among insurgents to shoot down Ukrainian planes to weaken Poroshenko’s administration in Kiev. 

It is likely that the Malaysian plane was unlucky to be targeted by Russian separatists who mistook it to be enemy aircraft. This all the more makes it incumbent upon the international community to try harder to end the Ukrainian crisis.