Yesterday's downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane over eastern Ukraine by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile killed 298 people. Among the dead were dozens of women and children, and approximately 100 HIV experts on their way to a conference in Australia. The nightmarish scene of the debris field has been captured in countless videos, and was chillingly described in the New York Times:
"Pieces of the plane were scattered across the road and field: a seat back with its television display cracked; a giant white piece of the tail with the plane’s insignia emblazoned on it, and a jagged edge where it tore off from the plane. One televised image showed a travel guide for Bali, almost untouched."Right on cue, Russian autocrat Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin blamed the Ukrainian government, which has no control over the area from which the missile was fired. Several of the plane's flight recorders have apparently been recovered, according to Russian-backed separatist officials, who have promised to turn them over to international officials. Whether this tragedy causes Putin to reevaluate the level of support for the ethnic Russian separatists remains to be seen. Certainly, the European community will have to re-examine the future of their relations with a nation that supports a lawless and violent movement within a bordering, sovereign nation.
UPDATE: U.S. officials are now indicating Russian-backed separatists were likely responsible, adding that they may have had assistance in operating the mobile missile launcher from Russian military advisors. Obama to speak shortly. (Here's a report with the video).
UPDATE II: In an editorial this morning, the
Predictably, the Ukrainian rebels were doing their best Thursday to cover up what occurred. They denied shooting down the plane, though the wreckage landed in territory they control near the Russian border. Their commander, a Russian citizen and former military officer named Igor Strelkov, claimed in a blog post published Thursday to have shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane, then removed the message. (our emphasis)