Friday, July 18, 2014

Putin's War: Out of Control in Eastern Ukraine

Donetsk destruction. Yahoo image.
Heavy weapons, shoulder-fired missiles, AK-15s, tanks, surface-to-air defense missiles (called Buks, incredible giant machines of war), increasing Russian military personnel and special ops on the ground. This is eastern Ukraine, occupied by a band of extralegal foreign terrorists, armed and encouraged by Russia.

Last weekend, Russian/separatists shot down a Ukrainian military cargo plane at 21,000 feet, a height that only sophisticated missiles could reach. No one paid attention.  Pro-Russian terrorists have been hunting Ukrainian planes for the past few weeks, and bragging about taking them down, maybe up to a dozen of them so far. Who cared?  Ukrainian planes, some carrying food, water and medicine to Ukrainian troops, have been blown out of the sky. Just Ukrainian deaths. Heavy weapons in the hands of lawless thugs with the capability to take down planes flying at over 20,000 feet?  That's life in eastern Ukraine.

Buk missile air defense system.
But these actions, this use of advanced missile systems, have international consequences, and now we clearly see the results.

Yesterday, the Russian/terrorists shot down a Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lampur, flying at 32,000 feet. They thought it was another Ukrainian army cargo plane.

"We warned you not to fly over our skies," tweeted a Russian/separatist, proudly, as the plane went down.  Yes, as the plane went down. Cel phone messages about the plane among the separatists, intercepted by the Ukrainian government, are chilling.   No Ukrainian identification on this plane. Bodies. Foreign passports. Malaysian wording on the plane. "Why the hell was that plane flying over this territory?" a pro-Russian militant asks the men on the ground. "Any weapons?"

No, no weapons. This wasn't a Ukrainian plane, guys.  You won't find any weapons.  Just a lot of dead bodies. It was a commercial flight, on a routine flight path. There were 298 international travelers and airline personnel aboard. We will learn more about these people in the next few days, people whose lives ended tragically.  We have learned that one passenger was a highly regarded reporter planning a fantastic trip to Kuala Lampur for his 50th birthday.  "A wonderful person doing great work in the world," a friend said.

You shot this plane down thinking it was a Ukrainian transport plane. You were wrong. Very wrong. Maybe you stole the Buk from the Ukrainians, or maybe it's one of the many heavy weapons of war you have gotten from Russia.

Whatever the source, you used these advanced weapons of war glibly against a Malaysian airliner. The plane and the people in it are now scattered all over the killing fields of east Ukraine that you occupy and have violated.  You hit the wrong guys. You massacred innocent people.

International investigators and humanitarian aid will be coming to Donetsk soon, this region you are destroying, and you best get out of the way. This land belongs to Ukraine.  You are not a legal entity, not a country, that can give orders to international governments, officials and rescue teams. You will now be inundated with people who will work with the Ukrainian government.   They have to secure the crime scene that you are corrupting.  The black box in Moscow? Another tragedy in the making.

You got the world's attention with this one. 295 lives lost.  You'll pay for it one day.  This is Putin's War against Ukraine. It has international consequences. And it's out of control.

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