Why Vladimir Putin is not to blame for MH17

What’s the use of media speculation on whether or not it was rebels who are responsible for this awful tragedy? To speculate over Russia’s role in it?

Maria Dubovikova

Published: Updated:

On the July 16, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was shot down in eastern Ukraine. This awful catastrophe caused death of 298 people, 80 children among them. Whatever the geopolitical framework surrounding the event, this is an awful human tragedy. A tragedy numerous families share.

The worst of any international tragedies is brought out when some people or even whole governments try to speculate on a disaster, while pursuing their own interests and goals. What was the Ukrainian reaction that came right after the crash was announced? It was a call for a NATO and U.S. ground military operation against the rebels in Eastern Ukraine.

Immediately and expectedly, the Ukrainian government blamed the rebel groups and some time later Russia was blamed. The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Mirror and several other major Western tabloids took this version as the only version of the catastrophe, according to their editorials the next day. With no investigation and no exact facts, the self-proclaimed judges delivered their accusations. At the same time, Dutch and Malaysian press was cautious. World political leaders, even the U.S. president, avoid lunging into the mess, calling for investigation instead.

This catastrophe cannot be understood without being seen within a global and regional framework. The conflict in Ukraine has endured for several months with no evident tendencies of de-escalation.

After Crimean referendum, Russia is blamed for the support of the rebels and self-proclaimed republics. There is no reliable proof of this, but this conviction is widely shared among those who don’t nourish a feeling of sympathy either for Russia, or Putin. The possession of heavy weapons by the rebels could be simply explained by the capture of military equipment from the Ukrainian army during its several military successes. International tensions over the crisis have been growing before the current escalation. It’s very dubious that the Kremlin would take this extremely dangerous step of supporting the rebels with weapons.

Putin is not Khrushchev or Brezhnev

Moreover, a weapons transfer could not be performed in secrecy. Despite the western fears, Russia is not the Soviet Union, Putin is not Khrushchev or Brezhnev. He would never take such dubious steps if not confident in success and minimal damage for the country and his personal image. It should be remembered that he is an ex-spy.

What’s the use of media speculation on whether or not it was rebels who are responsible for this awful tragedy? To speculate over Russia’s role in it? Or to threaten?

Maria Dubovikova

If we take the next nearest perspective, which adds some color to the debate, the image will be the following: A successful BRICS Summit (14-15 of July) has just finished. The parties reaffirmed their aspiration to cooperate and to overcome unipolarity and one-state dominance. The agreement of the establishment of a BRICS bank was signed, to counter a Western hold on global finances, as it was declared. This summit is a truly significant step forward, especially for Putin, who seeks a multipolar world, but irritating for the U.S. and European great powers.

On the morning of July 16, the U.S. and the EU has boosted sanctions against Russia. The U.S. imposed more severe ones than previously imposed, especially against military and banking spheres.

So, if to build analysis on a key principle of political "game theory" which was once nicely described by Bruce Buena de Mesquita in his book “The Prediction”: “People do what they believe is in their best interest” – taking into account the developments, especially Russia’s foreign policy, I believe the assumption of Russia’s role in the crash of the liner looks absurd.

The same goes for the rebels, who are balancing between total collapse and hope, risking everyday with every insufficient step to arouse the total indignation on behalf of the international community. Ukrainians have no right to call the rebels terrorists, as once, in 2001, Ukraine itself shot a Russian passenger plane in 2001 over the Black Sea – by mistake.

But, in general, what’s the use of media speculation on whether or not it was rebels who are responsible for this awful tragedy? To speculate over Russia’s role in it? Or to threaten? Why find the imaginary culprits and attack them before the announcement of the official results of the investigation come out and create aggressive public opinions?

But whatever the results, the culprits, whoever they are, must be prosecuted in compliance with international law. The truth is not about conjecture and gossip.

I pray for MH17…


Maria Dubovikova is a co-founder of IMESClub (International Middle Eastern Studies Club), IMESClub Executive Director and member of the Club Council, author of several scientific articles and participant of several high level international conferences. She is a permanent member of the Think-tank under the American University in Moscow. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia) (honors diploma), she had been working for three months as a trainee at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) in Paris. Now she is a PhD Candidate at MGIMO (Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia). Her research field is Russian foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, the policy of France and the US towards the Mediterranean, theory of international relations, humanitarian interventions and etc. Fluently speaks and writes in French and English. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme

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