After MH17?

July 19, 2014

There is no need to overly flog a horse that will undoubtedly be publicly and repeatedly flogged in lurid (and perhaps inaccurate) detail across the international media – so this entry will be as short as possible, as writing about the same headline subject as the MSM is not what most readers look at this blog for.

There is no need to link to claimed intercepts, video footage of the incident, or horrendous and graphic photographs.  They are easily found all over the Internet for those who feel the need to witness them.  Quite simply it is not the style of this blog to further promulgate such imagery.

Questioning why flight MH17 was flying over the area it was, does not negate the fact it was shot down.  A criminal act committed deliberate in its targeting – whether erroneously identified, or not.

That President Putin claims Ukraine is responsible because it happened in Ukrainian air space carries little weight.


planes shot down

Clearly he cannot blame the victim – and rightly.  He obviously will not publicly blame the offenders – there are still Kremlin goals to be achieved as far as Ukraine is concerned.

His statement over the incident, a particularly weak sauce for a dish so strong that nobody will swallow it.

Furthermore, if that is to be The Kremlin line, presumably the Smolensk disaster is now squarely the responsibility of Russia – for it happened in Russian air space?

It is also notable in his statement that President Putin made no claim nor inference that the Ukrainian military were responsible for downing this aircraft in his comments.   A claim perhaps deliberately avoided to prevent the use of any evidence to refute such a claim in the public arena prior to any frantic diplomatic damage limitation attempts.

Thus despite all the on-going calls for independent investigations from politicians across Europe and the globe, it is more than reasonable to presume that what happened is already known to the parties concerned – as pointed out by the ever-wise Charles Crawford.

As he rightly states, there now comes the sticky issues of saying what happened – particularly so if it somehow directly links Russia to the incident – a GRU command to drown the plane, professional Russian soldiers assisting in the missile launch, a launch from within Russia itself etc. – as the killing hundreds of civilians by such an act brings those involved perilously close to War Crimes criteria, with an international line up of complainants.

Also there is the issue of perhaps being labeled a “State sponsor of terror”.  Whilst it may be accepted that for a brief moment The Kremlin lost absolute command and control in eastern Ukraine, that moment has since past.  It is necessary to look only at the rotation of the “self-proclaimed” leadership in DPR and LPR, to see that vast majority are now Russian citizens who have replaced those that were Ukrainian.  Command and control was restored.

Thus maneuvering over what will and will not be said in the public realm there will undoubtedly be – and a price to pay for what is and is not said and evidenced in the public realm to be agreed and settled if possible.  In the meantime, limp statements regarding “knee jerk conclusions” will seep from Kremlin institutions with the dual purpose of buying diplomatic negotiating time and the desperate search for a narrative to feed the global media via incessant Kremlin propaganda spin.

That brings about the main thrust of this entry.  The MH17 incident is something of a “game changer” for all concerned.

What does The Kremlin do now?  Abandon the DPR and LPR, distancing itself from this incident as best it can whilst sticking to its “plausibly deniable” asymmetric war against Ukraine in other ways?  Does it go “all in” and drop all pretense?  Does it try and ride out the storm and continue its current tactics?

Does The Kremlin refine its new style of warfare after a particularly bitter lesson learned regarding “local proxies”?  It certainly won’t abandon the concept for future deployment – something all regional nations and NATO should consider.

What do the DPR and LPR do if Kremlin support ends with immediate effect?  Try and slip back into Russia unnoticed, possibly to return at some time in the future?  Knowingly stand and fight to the bitter end in the absence of Kremlin assistance?  Simply fade away hoping never to be held accountable or recalled for future incursions?  The “self-appointed” leadership seeking sanctuary in Russia or elsewhere?

How will Ukraine deal, or perhaps cope, with these groups depending upon what they do next?  Certainly it will want to make the most of the international outrage to push on with ATO more robustly than ever.  Will international sensibilities allow for this and would some disproportionate force be tacitly tolerated in the current circumstance?

What reaction both public and private, overt and covert, will the US and Europeans have?  How will any reaction manifest itself?  Special forces?  The supply of precision weaponry rather than non-lethal equipment?  Truly crushing sanctions that have instant effects rather than damage over time?

What of the governments who have lost citizens that were previously little more than concerned on-lookers?  What will they do?  How does this event effect Kremlin activity in their nations from now on – or globally?  How will their societies react to any attempts at “business as normal” with Russia?

Domestically, how will Russian society react?

Short of NATO troops arriving in Ukraine and digging in on the Russian border, together with an international open-ended financial line of credit to Ukraine that swiftly finances enormous societal reform, it is hard to see just how much worse this incident could be for The Kremlin in the immediate term.

It is a “game changer” – but how will the game change?



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