AND NOW THE RESULTS OF THE PIG'S ACTIONS............Malaysia Airlines crash: World demands answers from Russia after plane's destruction
US criticises Kremlin's arming of rebels and Hillary Clinton says 'Pig Putin has gone too far' after 298 die in missile strike
Oliver Laughland in Sydney, Shaun Walker in Kiev, Kate Hodal in Kuala Lumpur, Harriet Salem in Grabovo and Alec Luhn in Moscow
theguardian.com, Friday 18 July 2014 12.20 BST
Firefighters and journalists discuss Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down in eastern Ukrainehttp://www.youtube.com/results?q=Ukraine+security+services+recording+said+to+reveal+pro-Russian+separatists+admitting+they+shot+down+plane
The US has pointedly criticised Russian arming of rebels in Ukraine as the world demanded answers over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 by a suspected Russian-made missile, resulting in the death of all 298 people on board the civilian airliner.
The White House stopped short of directly blaming Russia for the plane’s destruction but linked its remarks on the disaster to the Kremlin’s support for separatists in Ukraine, urging the foul Pig's government to stop inflaming the situation in the country and take "concrete steps" towards de-escalation.
The huge loss of life threatens to have wide-ranging and unpredictable consequences, coming just after the US imposed further sanctions on Russia for continuing to provide weapons to the rebels.
The former US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, made some of the most potent remarks in a television interview, saying there were strong indications Russian-backed militia were to blame and action was needed to "put the repulsive Pig on notice that he has gone too far and we are not going to stand idly by".
Clinton called for the EU to increase sanctions on Russia, while the Australian prime minister Tony Abbott called on Russia to explain the disaster as it “now seems certain it’s been brought down by a Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile”.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said it was too soon to make a decision on tougher sanctions. "The events with the plane, as far as I remember, were not even 24 hours ago and at the moment we need to sort out an independent investigation."
There were 173 Dutch nationals on board the plane, along with 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, nine passengers believed to be from the UK, four each from Germany and Belgium, three from the Philippines, one Canadian and one from New Zealand. The nationalities of 20 passengers have not yet been verified. A group of international HIV/Aids experts flying to Melbourne were among those killed.
The British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said: "We are working through passenger data, cross-checking it and referencing it to establish exactly the numbers and identities of those British nationals."
The Malaysian president, Najib Razak, said the terrible and deeply shocking news marked “a tragic day in what has already been a tragic year for Malaysia”, referring to the earlier disappearance without a trace of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. He said any wrongdoers must be held responsible.
Flags were lowered to half-mast in the Netherlands and Australia.
Kiev and Moscow have blamed each other for the disaster.
The Pig ordered Russian military and civilian agencies to co-operate with any investigation but, according to a Kremlin statement, said the "state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy."
The Ukrainian foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, said on Friday morning there was no chance the missile was of Ukrainian military origin. He said the Ukrainian army did not have such missiles in the area, and said none had been seized by separatist fighters in recent weeks.
The jet was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday when it was blown apart and fell in a shower of fiery wreckage over the village of Grabovo, part of the area controlled by pro-Russia separatists.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Friday that separatists had agreed to provide assistance to those investigating the crash of the plane and would ensure safe access for international experts visiting the site.
Defence and security experts said the Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile system, known to be in the hands of pro-Russia fighters in Ukraine, was most likely used.
The US vice-president, Joe Biden, said the plane appeared to have been "blown out of the sky", while the Ukrainian security services released an audio recording said to be rebel commanders discussing the fact that their forces were responsible with Russian officers.
The UN security council it is to meet on Friday as calls mount for an international response. “There is clearly a need for a full, transparent and international investigation,” said the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, sending his condolences to the victims’ families.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's transport minister Liow Tiong Lai stressed that MH17 was following "the right route on the right path" amid a barrage of questions from local and foreign reporters as to why Malaysia Airlines would have chosen to fly over a warzone. Qantas, the Australian carrier, said it had been steering clear of the area by 400 nautical miles for several months.
"It is many years that we have taken the same route and many other countries take the same route," he said. He stressed that some 15 of 16 Asia-Pacific Airlines fly "this route over Ukraine" and added: "European airlines also use the same route, and traverse the same airspace. In the hours before the incident, a number of other passenger aircraft from different carriers used the same route."
He also said that there had been "no last-minute instructions" given to the pilots to change the route.
The European air traffic control body, Eurocontrol, said Ukrainian authorities had banned aircraft from flying at 32,000ft or below and the doomed aircraft had been cruising above that, at 33,000ft – however this apparently still left it within range of the sophisticated surface-to-air weaponry that pro-Russia forces have been using recently to target Ukrainian military aircraft. All civilian flights have now been barred from eastern Ukraine.
The field next to the tiny hamlet was a scene of charred earth and twisted metal as shocked local people milled around the scene. Body parts belonging to the 298 on board were strewn around. The body of what appeared to be a young woman had been flung about 500m from the centre of the crash.
US government officials confirmed to media outlets that a surface-to-air missile brought down the plane. US intelligence was reportedly still working to determine the exact location from which the missile was fired, and whether it was on the Russian or the Ukrainian side of the border.
Rebels in the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics have shot down several Ukrainian planes and helicopters in recent weeks. But they insisted they had no part in the downing of MH17, claiming instead that Ukrainian fire was responsible.
Ukraine's SBU security services released a recording, which could not immediately be verified, of what it said were rebel commanders saying they had shot down a plane and then discovering with horror it had been a civilian jet.
Ukraine security services recording said to reveal pro-Russia separatists admitting they shot down plane.http://www.youtube.com/results?q=Ukraine+security+services+recording+said+to+reveal+pro-Russian+separatists+admitting+they+shot+down+plane
On the ground in Grabovo a strong smell of aviation fuel and burnt rubber hung in the air as dozens of pro-Russian separatist fighters milled around the area in which workers from the emergency services were sifting through the wreckage. A dozen fire engines were on the scene.
One local resident, Alexander, had been working in a field a few hundred metres from the crash site and thought the aircraft was going to fall on top of him. Another farmer said he was on his tractor when he heard a loud bang. "Then I saw the plane hit the ground and break in two – there was thick black smoke," he said.
In a conflict that has not been short of dreadful twists, this was by far the most shocking and most gruesome to date. The 298 people on board MH17 had no connection to the fighting – their international flight was simply travelling through airspace above the battle zone.
Throughout the Ukraine conflict the versions of violent incidents provided by Kiev and the Donetsk rebels have diverged wildly, with each side blaming the other for loss of life and the shelling of residential areas.
Now, with such a huge and unexpected loss of life, the stakes are immeasurably higher, and both sides again rushed to claim the other was at fault.
Those blaming pro-Russia rebels for the attack pointed to a post on a social media site attributed to a top rebel commander which claimed to have downed a Ukrainian transport plane around the same time as the first reports of MH17's disappearance surfaced. The post was later deleted.
The US and EU have heavily criticised Russia for providing the separatists in eastern Ukraine with logistical and military support, leading to a new set of White House sanctions against Russian companies, introduced on Wednesday, as rhetoric coming out of both Washington and Moscow has led to talk of a new cold war. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Guardian that any allegations of Russian involvement in the MH17 crash were "stupidity".
He said the Kremlin would not make a further statement because "no one knows" who is responsible.
Asked about the possibility of further US sanctions, Peskov said he could not rule it out: "The United States has recently been conducting a very nonconstructive policy and their actions are very unpredictable," he said.
The Pig itself, who on Thursday returned to Russia from a summit of the Brics nations in Brazil, informed Barack Obama about the incident.
"The Russian Pig informed the US president of the report from air traffic controllers that the Malaysian plane had crashed on Ukrainian territory, which had arrived immediately before the phone call," said a statement released by the Kremlin.
According to the statement, the pair spent most of the conversation discussing the deterioration of US-Russian relations, and the foul Pig expressed his "serious disappointment" over the latest round of US sanctions against Russian companies.
Later the stinking Pig chaired a meeting on the Russian economy which began with a minute's silence and laid the blame for the crash at Ukraine's door: "There is no doubt that the nation over whose airspace this happened bears responsibility for the terrible tragedy," the Pig squeaked.
David Cameron, the British prime minister, tweeted: "I'm shocked and saddened by the Malaysian air disaster. Officials from across Whitehall are meeting to establish the facts."
The crash came four months after another Malaysia Airlines flight, MH370, vanished on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, two-thirds of them Chinese citizens. It has yet to be found despite a huge search.
The first rumours of another incomprehensible tragedy for the airline, this time in Ukraine, came as video appeared from villages nearby showing huge plumes of smoke rising into the air, with aviation sources telling a local wire agency that a plane had been downed.
The first official confirmation came when Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, wrote on his Facebook page that the plane had crashed in Ukrainian territory after being hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher.
Malaysia Airlines soon confirmed the worst, announcing via its Twitter feed: "Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace."
Ukrainian president says shooting down of plane is a warning for the world on Russian aggression.
Igor Sutyagin, a Russian military specialist at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, agreed that the plane would almost certainly have been shot with a Buk, a vehicle-mounted missile system first developed in the Soviet era. The Malaysian aircraft,was beyond the range of Manpads – shoulder-launched missiles. Kalashnikov-carrying Russian sympathisers in Ukraine would not have had the expertise to fire them and would have needed either specialists who had "volunteered" their services from Russia or locally recruited specialists, he said, noting that the rebels had been firing at Ukrainian aircraft over the last week.
The Associated Press said one of its journalists had seen a similar launcher near the town of Snizhne earlier on Thursday.
Russia's state-owned Channel One avoided speculation of who might have been behind the plane crash in its first bulletins on the subject, while the Kremlin-friendly Life News, whose reporters were first on the scene, said it was likely to have been brought down by Ukrainian fire, claiming that the rebels did not have any missile systems with the capacity to down a plane at that altitude.
However a report on the website of Russian state television from late June described how the rebels in Donetsk had taken control of a Ukrainian missile defence facility that was equipped with Buk systems. The report said that the rebels planned to "defend the sky over Donetsk" using the missiles.
On Thursday afternoon a social media site attributed to Igor Strelkov, a Russian citizen who has emerged as the commander of rebel forces in Donetsk, announced that the rebels had shot down an An-26 Ukrainian transport plane, and also that there was "information about a second plane". The post was later removed.
Audio was circulated on social media, apparently released by Ukrainian security services, purporting to be an intercepted conversation of pro-Russia rebels confirming they had shot down a civilian jet.
The conversation is apparently between a group leader and his superior and suggests that they initially thought they had brought down a military aircraft but later realised their error.
The group leader, "Demon", tells his boss: "A plane has just been shot down. [It was] 'Miner's' group. It crashed outside Enakievo. Our men went to search for and photograph it. It's smouldering."
After his men apparently inspect the crash site, Demon reports back. "Cossacks from the Chernunkhino checkpoint shot down the plane. The plane disintegrated in mid-air … they found the first body. It's a civilian."
He carries on: "I mean. It's definitely a civilian aircraft."
His superior, nicknamed "Greek", asks him: "Were there many people?"
Demon replies: "A fuckton. The debris rained right into the yards."
Greek asks: "What's the aircraft?" and is told: "I haven't figured it out yet. I haven't reached the main section. I only looked at where the bodies began to fall. There are remains of chair mounts, the chairs, the bodies."
Greek asks: "Any weapons there?" and Demon says: "None at all. Civilian things, medical stuff, towels, toilet paper." "Any documents?" asks Greek, and Demon, perhaps realising what has just happened, replies: "Yes, an Indonesian student from Thomson university [in the US]."
Additional reporting by Tania Branigan in Beijing, Ewen MacAskill in London, Paul Lewis in Washington and Warren Murray of Guardian Australia
***************Ukraine PM Says Those behind Jet Downing Should Face Hague Tribunal
by Naharnet Newsdesk
18 July 2014, 13:05
Ukraine's prime minister said Friday that pro-Russian separatist rebels that Kiev believes shot down a Malaysian airliner with 298 people on board should face an international tribunal The Hague.
"Yesterday's terrible tragedy has altered our lives. The Russians went too far," Interfax-Ukraine quoted Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk as saying. "This is an international crime for which they should face an international tribunal in The Hague."
For this part, Russian President Pig Putin called for an urgent settlement of the Ukraine crisis as he expressed condolences to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte over the Malaysian jet crash.
"The head of Russia stressed that the tragedy once again highlighted the need for an urgent peaceful settlement of the most acute crisis in Ukraine and noted there is a need for a thorough and objective investigation of the air crash," the Kremlin said in a statement after the foul Pig snorted with Rutte by phone.
Of the 298 crash victims, 154 were from The Netherlands.
****************Fallen Bodies, Jet Parts and a Child’s Pink Book: Malaysia Airlines Plane Leaves Trail of Debris
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
JULY 17, 2014
A Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 passengers and crew members crashed in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, and American officials said it was most likely shot down by an antiaircraft missile.
GRABOVO, Ukraine — Incongruously, given that the plane fell from more than 30,000 feet, many of the bodies strewn about in the smoldering wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 were largely intact. A woman in a black sweater lay on her back, blood streaming from her face, her left arm raised as if signaling someone. Another victim, naked except for a black bra, lay on the field, her gray hair mixing with the green grass, one leg broken and her body torn.
Residents spoke of bodies falling from the sky, looking like rags or clumps of ash, before the plane came to a jolting rest in a large wheat field dotted with purple flowers and Queen Anne’s lace, having trailed debris over several miles of sparsely populated Ukrainian farmland.
“It was horrible,” said a separatist rebel who was part of the rescue crew and would give only his first name, Sergei. “We were in shock.”
The road to the crash site in eastern Ukraine, not far from the Russian border, was lined with fire engines and other emergency vehicles. Separatist militiamen, plentiful in this rebel-controlled territory, urged journalists to take photographs.
There were no houses in the immediate vicinity. The only visible structure was a poultry operation with long white coops in the distance.
Rescue workers had already tied small white strips of cloth to tree branches along the debris path to mark the locations of the bodies. As darkness descended on the field, the workers gathered in throngs near a line of ambulances and rescue cars. Dogs barked in the distance, and the air smelled bitter.
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.
A strange detail marked what looked like part of a wing, a hole suggesting a burst of metal pushed outward. To an untrained eye, it was unclear whether the damage had been done by ordnance or some other, unknown forces on the way down.
Many of the victims were still wearing their seatbelts, attached to pieces of the plane. One man, still in his socks but without pants, lay in the field, his right arm placed on his stomach as if in repose. Others had personal belongings nearby. A young man in blue shorts, wearing red Nike sneakers but no pants, lay with his arms and legs splayed outward, an iPhone by his side.
After a Malaysia Airlines jet crashed in Ukraine on Thursday, several amateur videos were posted online.
Publish Date July 17, 2014.
Dutch belongings were scattered through the grass: a pink children’s book; a parking ticket picked up by a man named Hans van den Hende; a book of stickers. Children’s playing cards were sprinkled near the road.
Mundane items of daily life covered the grass. Toiletries spilled out of overnight bags. Nivea cream. A razor. White slippers. A glass bottle of cologne. A maxi pad lay in the grass. A soft blue fuzzy blanket spilling from a red suitcase was caught on a sharp metal pole. A bicycle lay in the grass, practically intact.
The area was also covered in feathers from brown chickens. There were two parrots, one of them lifting its wing as if waving, and a peacock.
The closest village was Grabovo, a small coal-mining town whose residents had been among the first to see the plane. Oleg Georgievich, 40, a miner who is also fighting with the insurgency here, said he had heard noises shortly after 4 p.m. and thought the town was being bombed. Aircraft have been flying over daily, he said, and have bombed neighboring villages on a number of occasions.
He heard a sound like a whistle, then walked onto his balcony on the fifth floor and saw something falling from the sky. He later understood it was part of the plane’s fuselage. Then he saw things that looked like pieces of cloth coming fast toward the earth. They were bodies, many with their clothes torn off.
Rescue workers said they counted many children. A boy who looked to be around 10 lay on his side in the grass in a red T-shirt that read “Don’t Panic.”
A rescue worker staffing a white table, who would give only his first name, Alexei, said the area of the crash was 10 to 15 square kilometers — about 4 to 6 square miles — in a rectangle that he had marked in red pen in crosshatching on a map.
He said that parts of the plane were scattered over the entire area and that the pilot had not tried to land in the field: The plane appeared to have been torn apart in the sky.
“It fell down in pieces,” he said, adding that rescue workers numbered about 60 and were setting up tents to gather the dead.
Oleg Georgievich, the coal miner, who would give only his first name and patronymic, not his last name, said he was afraid of what the tragedy would bring. Ukraine has been accusing Russia and the rebels of shooting down its planes, and he said he did not think this situation would be any different.
“Tomorrow, the Ukrainians are going to say that I shot this plane down with my gun,” he said, standing in the darkness. “Look at me. I’m in sneakers; I have no flak jacket. You want to know what year it was made?” He looked at a journalist. The date stamped on the gun was 1953.
Correction: July 17, 2014
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the size in square miles of the area of the crash as described by a rescue worker. It is about 4 to 6 square miles, not 6 to 9 square miles.
******************World Leaders Match Anger With Calls for Inquiry Into Ukraine Plane Crash
By ALAN COWELL and DAN BILEFSKY
JULY 18, 2014
LONDON — With sentiments ranging from shock to dismay to anger, political leaders across the globe on Friday urged a rapid, independent and international effort to investigate the crash of a Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine that killed 298 people and provoked a blistering exchange of accusations over who brought down the Boeing 777.
The crash dominated newspaper front pages in many European countries, relegating accounts of Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza into second place.
At the center of the international furor — and its likely impact on Washington’s demands for ever-tighter sanctions against Moscow over its support of separatists in the conflict in Ukraine — stood the Pig , who also snorted on Friday for a “thorough and unbiased” inquiry into the disaster.
The Pig snorted on Friday with the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, who broke off a vacation after learning that a majority of those who died in the crash were Dutch. The Netherlands has declared a national day of mourning for the 154 Dutch citizens reported killed.
In a telephone conversation with Mr. Rutte, the Russian leader “underlined that the tragedy yet again highlighted the need for the swiftest peaceful solution to the acute crisis in Ukraine,” the Kremlin said in a statement, echoing earlier Russian comments about the bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine, during which pro-Moscow separatists have recently claimed to have shot down Ukrainian military transport planes.
Endorsing international calls for an full inquiry, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said there were “many indications” that the Malaysian airliner “was shot down.”
“Russia’s responsibility is clear,” the chancellor said on Friday, calling on Mr. Putin and his government to do their part “to find ways to reach a permanent cease-fire.”
“It will be a difficult path, but there is no alternative to a political solution,” the chancellor told reporters.
Pressed about whether Germany, which has strong economic ties to Russia, would support stronger action against the fucking Pig, Ms. Merkel declined to threaten further sanctions.
In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron summoned a meeting of the high-level crisis response committee known as Cobra, which debates matters of national security. Nine Britons were reported to be among the dead from Flight 17. The committee takes its name from the location of its meetings in Cabinet Office Briefing Room A.
The harshest public criticism came from Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia, who said that the Russian response to the crash was “deeply, deeply unsatisfactory.” The dead were reported to have included 28 Australians. The Russian ambassador to Australia had earlier met with the foreign minister, Julie Bishop.
“The initial response of the Russian ambassador was to blame Ukraine for this and I have to say that is deeply, deeply unsatisfactory,” Mr. Abbott said, adding that “the idea that Russia can somehow say that none of this has anything to do with them because it happened in Ukrainian airspace frankly does not stand up to any serious scrutiny.”
“This looks less like an accident than a crime,” he said, “and if so the perpetrators must be brought to justice.”
In France, officials said they were still trying to determine whether any French citizens were on the flight. Initially, the foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said there were at least four French passengers on the plane, but then said it was unclear whether French citizens had been on board.
Britain has submitted a United Nations resolution calling for an international investigation into the crash. A proposal was expected to be discussed at a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York on Friday. The British call for an international inquiry has been echoed by the White House, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
“It is important that a full international investigation should be launched immediately, without any hindrance, to establish the facts and that those who may be responsible are swiftly brought to justice,” Mr. Rasmussen said in a statement.
The British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said he was deeply shocked and determined to find out what had happened. “We believe that there must be a U.N.-led international investigation of the facts,” he said in a statement.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said it had conducted two videoconferences with pro-Russian separatist groups, which had agreed to secure the site of the crash, provide safe access for rescue teams, national and international investigators, and cooperate with the Ukrainian authorities.
In eastern Europe, which has watched Russia’s maneuvers in Ukraine with growing alarm, there were calls to bring the perpetrators of the crash to justice. “Unspeakable horror” for the passengers “of downed flight #MH17,” Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, wrote on Twitter. “Condolences to families, justice for perpetrators and those who enabled them.”
The passengers included delegates to a gathering of the International AIDS Society to be held in the Australian city of Melbourne from Sunday until July 25.
****************Ukraine: missile that downed MH17 plane was not ours
Foreign minister denies missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines jet over east of country came from Ukrainian military
Shaun Walker in Kiev
theguardian.com, Friday 18 July 2014 10.21 BST
Ukraine's foreign minister says there is no chance that the missile apparently used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines jet over the east of the country was of Ukrainian military origin.
Pavlo Klimkin told the Guardian on Friday morning that the Ukrainian army did not have such missiles in the area, and said none had been seized by separatist fighters in recent weeks.
"We are absolutely sure and we checked yesterday that no missiles have been taken from the Ukrainian army," said Klimkin.
MH17 crashed near the village of Grabovo on Thursday killing all of its nearly 300 passengers and crew. US authorities say they have evidence it was shot down by a missile.
Separatist fighters in the region have shot down a number of Ukrainian planes and helicopters in recent days, and there is circumstantial evidence pointing to the seizure of a Buk missile system from the Ukrainian army by rebels.
A video has surfaced from several days ago in which a well-known Kremlin cheerleader, Sergei Kurginyan, said after a visit to Donetsk in recent days that the rebels had seized a Buk system. Kurginyan said in the video that specialists from Russia had travelled to the region to fix the missile system, "as a friendly gesture to a brotherly nation".
Additionally, a news item on Russian state television from late June announced that the rebels had taken control of a Ukrainian Buk system. But Klimkin was adamant that this was not the case.
"Our military forces don't use any sort of anti-air missile in the region of anti-terror operation, so there could be no even theoretical possibility of taking this kind of missile," he told the Guardian. He suggested the missile system could have been smuggled into Ukraine from Russia:
"In recent weeks we have had continuous inflow of mercenaries, money, weapons and heavy weaponry across the border, including tanks and Manpads [man-portable air-defence systems]," said Klimkin.
He claimed that given the border was several hundred miles long, and in places "controlled by the terrorists", it was possible that a missile system could have been brought across the border without detection.
Klimkin insisted that recordings released by Ukraine's SBU security services on Thursday of separatist fighters admitting they had downed a passenger liner were "absolutely genuine".
Ukraine's foreign minister said he had spoken overnight to a number of his western counterparts, including the new UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, who offered British assistance and support.
Klimkin said a video-conference had taken place on Thursday evening between the separatists and the Ukrainian president's representative, the former president Leonid Kuchma, which included mediation from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Russian ambassador to Ukraine.
Access to the location had been negotiated for the OSCE and Ukrainian officials, said Klimkin, who declined to give details of what kind of delegation would travel to the crash site and when, citing security issues.
The Donetsk region contains a number of different militias whose actions are not always coordinated, and an aide to the rebel commander Igor Strelkov told Associated Press on Thursday that his boss had not yet decided whether to allow investigators access to the site.
The rebels claim the plane was down by the Ukrainian government.
****************Air Disaster Strains Moscow’s Competing Strategy on Ukrainian Rebels
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR and ANDREW E. KRAMER
JULY 17, 2014
IHTMOSCOW — The double game that the Kremlin has been accused of playing in eastern Ukraine for weeks — publicly endorsing peace talks while surreptitiously supporting the separatists with arms and men — suddenly appeared less crafty than possibly disastrous on Thursday after the crash of a civilian jetliner in a Ukrainian field.
What brought Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 tumbling out of the sky, killing all 298 people aboard, remained uncertain. But given the immediate suspicions raised in Kiev and Washington that a sophisticated missile ripped it apart, the crash brought the question of who was responsible right to the doorstep of President Pig V. Putin of Russia.
“It is an extremely awkward moment for the Kremlin,” said Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. “Everyone in the West and in Ukraine is already pointing their fingers at the Kremlin. They are not waiting for an inquiry — they are blaming Russia today.”
Of course ....
The Pig itself pointed the finger at Ukraine.
After a Malaysia Airlines jet crashed in Ukraine on Thursday, several amateur videos were posted online.
Publish Date July 17, 2014.
During a late cabinet meeting on economic matters, according to a statement on the Kremlin website, the Pig squeaked, “Definitely, the country over whose territory this happened bears the responsibility for this horrible tragedy.”
The Pig, without saying what might have caused the crash, squealed that “this tragedy could have been avoided” had Ukraine not resumed combat operations in the southeast. A shaky cease-fire lasted 10 days at the end of June.
The Russian Pig squealed that he had instructed all military and civilian agencies to give all possible assistance “in the investigation of this crime.”
“We shall do everything, at least everything in our power, so that the objective picture of what happened becomes available to our public, the public of Ukraine and the entire world,” it snorted.
Russia has flatly denied supplying the rebels with men or weapons. But with each passing week, as the bloodshed escalated, new questions were raised about the involvement of the Russian security services. The United States imposed new, tougher economic sanctions against a few Russian banks and its oil industry on Wednesday, in the process accusing Moscow of continuing to arm the separatists.
The Russian military had already denied this week that it had shot down a Ukrainian military AN-26 cargo plane near the border on Monday with a missile fired from its territory. Ukraine’s defense minister said that plane had been flying at more than 21,000 feet, well beyond the reach of the shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles the rebels have been known to use.
The charges of Russian involvement were being repeated in the case of Flight 17, which was flying higher than 21,000 feet.
Even Russian analysts have scoffed at claims by the Pig and the Russian government that it was pursuing solely a diplomatic end to the crisis in Ukraine, prompted in February by the popular overthrow of a Russian ally in Kiev who had rejected a closer alliance with Europe.“It is a game for the fucking Pig,” said a former senior Russian government official this week, speaking anonymously to avoid damaging his relationship with the foul Pig, who was once an intelligence officer. “He likes to say that he is a peacekeeper from one hand, while from the other he is sending the rebels arms. It is typical K.G.B.”
The United States, and to a lesser degree European nations, have accused Russia of sending soldiers and weapons across the border for months now, in a barely veiled flow of evermore elaborate weaponry.
The Malaysian plane was flying on an active route used by commercial airlines every day. Hours before the crash, Russia closed four airways near the Ukrainian border, including one that was a continuation of Flight 17’s route.
On the Ukrainian side, the separatists have similarly refuted receiving much help from Russia, even as their arsenal has come to include tanks, howitzers, shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, ground-to-ground multiple-rocket launchers and other heavy weapons. Officials in the Donetsk and Luhansk separatist governments, many of them Russian citizens, said the arsenal was pilfered from Ukrainian bases they had captured.
Initially, militia fighters were coy about their more sophisticated weaponry; men on barricades showed little more than Kalashnikov rifles.
But later, one militant brigade, the Vostok Battalion, invited reporters to photograph fighters unpacking wooden crates holding new-looking Russian-made Igla, or Needle, shoulder-carried antiaircraft missiles. With planes and helicopters being shot down regularly, there seemed no point in hiding anything.
In June, Ukrainian officials said three tanks crossed border points with Russia controlled by rebels and rolled into Ukraine. Other columns followed. Videos appeared of tanks and armored personnel carriers towing artillery along roads near the border.
In addition to accusing Russia of sending Grad rocket launchers into Ukraine, Kiev also charged that the Russian military had fired them across the border at its troops. After initial expressions of concern in Western capitals, the flow of weapons became almost routine.
For some, the crash of Flight 17 was reminiscent of one of the worst incidents of the Cold War, when on Sept. 1, 1983, Soviet air defense forces shot down a Korean Airlines Boeing 747 that had strayed into Soviet airspace. All 269 people on board were killed. Moscow stonewalled the investigation for 10 years, until after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Others pointed to Ukraine accidentally shooting down a Siberian Airlines passenger jet over the Black Sea in 2001 during a military training exercise.
Immediately after Thursday’s crash, the Kremlin issued a short statement summarizing what it called a previously scheduled telephone conversation between the Pig and President Obama. “The parties had a detailed discussion about the crisis in Ukraine,” the statement said.
The Pig repeated the need for an immediate cease-fire, objected to what he said was Ukrainian army fire striking inside Russia, and “expressed his disappointment” at the latest round of sanctions.
The only reference to the crash came in one sentence at the end: “The Russia leader informed the U.S. president of the report received from air traffic controllers immediately prior to their conversation about the crash of a Malaysian airplane over the Ukrainian territory.”
Ukraine released what it said was audio of phone calls between rebels and Russian officers. In one call, a rebel is heard saying, “We have just shot down a plane.”
But that might have been because the snorting Pig itself was in the air over Eastern Europe late Thursday afternoon, state-run television reported, flying home from Brazil after a six-day Latin American tour.
The official line, echoed by state-run television and analysts close to the Kremlin, included plenty of speculation that Ukraine was at fault. Experts interviewed on Rossiya 24, a main cable news show, stressed that there was no evidence that the crash was caused by a missile.
One expert noted that Malaysia Airlines had already lost one long-range jet this year, a sign that anything could have happened to another of its aircraft, and suggested that Flight 17 might have collided with a Ukrainian military aircraft because Kiev was lax in not closing Ukraine’s airspace.
Sergei Markov, an analyst who often speaks about the Kremlin’s viewpoint when it will not, called the crash either terrible luck, a deliberate Ukrainian plot or, as he put it, “a specially organized conspiracy by the Kiev junta.”
He favored the accident theory, but noted that a civilian airliner should not have been flying over the region.
“There is a war in the air” over eastern Ukraine, Mr. Markov noted, so if an air traffic controller deliberately cleared the pilot to enter that zone, then the fault lies with Ukraine.
The reason would be “so that it is easier to send foreign troops to Ukraine,” he said. “We see that the junta is doing everything to achieve that.”
Robert A. Schlegel, a member of Parliament in the ruling United Russia party, said the downing of the Boeing 777 would resonate in Russia and in the West in different ways. In Russia, he said, many criticize the government for having done too little to arm the pro-Russian groups in Ukraine; the crash is unlikely to change that view.
“There are a lot of questions of why this airplane was flying over this region, and whose missiles shot it down,” Mr. Schlegel said. “This type of equipment doesn’t lie around in the road.”
No matter what the Kremlin says or does, the idea that only someone with military training would have been able to operate the technically complicated air defense system needed to fire a missile to such height will undoubtedly keep the spotlight focused on Moscow.“The fucking Pig kept raising the stakes,” when it came to military support, said Kirill Rogov, an economic analyst and political commentator in Moscow. “In my view, he kept making mistakes, but to cover them he raised the stakes even higher. This was a dangerous strategy, and now we see the results.”
*****************U.S. Officials Say They Suspect SA-11 or SA-20 Missiles Brought Down Malaysia Jet
By C.J. CHIVERS
JULY 17, 2014
American officials, who said a surface-to-air missile was responsible for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 on Thursday, said they suspected that the missile was either an SA-11 or SA-20, both Russian made.
In the early hours of the investigation, determining clear accountability for a missile attack was impossible, in part because all three of the forces in or near the conflict area — the pro-Russian separatists, the Ukrainian military and the Russian military — could possess SA-11s, which are one of many legacy weapons from the Soviet Union circulating through this war.
Known in Russian as a “Buk” and among NATO nations as a “Gadfly,” the SA-11 was first designed in the 1970s. Successor variants are in the inventories of both Russian and Ukrainian air-defense units. A Buk system is vehicle-mounted and self-propelled, which means it can be moved around the battlefield, making it hard to track.
For ordnance, the SA-11 system fires roughly 18-foot-long missiles that can reach much higher than the reported altitude — 33,000 feet — of the Malaysian passenger jet. (Some variants of the missiles can reach above 70,000 feet.) Each missile carries a large high-explosive warhead, against which a thin-skinned Boeing 777 would have no defense.
SA-11s are normally operated in a battery, with a command vehicle and a separate target-acquisition radar. According to a written analysis by Doug Richardson of IHS Jane’s, a sole SA-11 vehicle “can also operate in stand-alone mode.”
“Its built-in radar is normally used to track the target being engaged, but can be operated in a target-detection mode, allowing it to autonomously engage targets that were present in the radar’s forward field of view,” he wrote.
Ukraine released what it said was audio of phone calls between rebels and Russian officers. In one call, a rebel is heard saying, “We have just shot down a plane.”
Publish Date July 18, 2014.
This would mean the separatists might be capable of using an SA-11, too, even without a full battery. (Recent interviews with rebels by The New York Times found that many were veterans of the Soviet or Ukrainian militaries, including air-defense units.)
After a Malaysia Airlines jet crashed in Ukraine on Thursday, several amateur videos were posted online.
Publish Date July 17, 2014.
Ukrainian and American officials have accused Russia of providing the separatists with many sophisticated and powerful weapons, and the rebels have also captured many Ukrainian weapons, meaning they could have obtained SA-11s from either source.
A social media post attributed to Igor Strelkov, the shadowy pro-Russian commander, showed him claiming to have captured Buk missiles. That claim has not been verified independently, and the rebels have been given to boasts.
The Ukrainian government released audio recordings that it claimed were intercepted phone calls between rebels discussing shooting down the plane.
The separatists have repeatedly spoken of other, verifiable air-defense capabilities, and have often been seen with other surface-to-air missiles — heat-seeking, shoulder-fired missiles known as Manpads.
With maximum elevations that are not much beyond 10,000 feet, Manpads cannot reach to the cruising altitudes of commercial passenger jets. Both pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian officials have said, however, that they have shot down helicopters in the conflict.
**********************Earlier Downing of Transport Plane Over Ukraine Foreshadowed Tragedy
By MICHAEL R. GORDON, MARK MAZZETTI and C. J. CHIVERS.
JULY 17, 2014
WASHINGTON — The first vivid demonstration of the war in Ukraine’s sudden escalation came Monday, three days before the downing of a Malaysian civilian airliner.
A Ukrainian AN-26 transport plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile while flying at 21,000 feet, an attack that American and Western officials believe was carried out either by Ukrainian separatists allied with Moscow or possibly even a Russian military unit.
More than half a dozen aircraft had been shot down in Ukraine in recent months, but this attack was different. Before Monday, only aircraft flying at relatively low altitudes — within the range of shoulder-fired weapons — were thought to be vulnerable to ground fire.
For the first time, a surface-to-air missile with greater range had been used, raising questions about whether the rebels have acquired such a devastating capability, and Russia’s role.
As with the Malaysian jet, some rebels claimed credit for Monday’s attack. But Western officials have also been investigating the possibility that the aircraft was downed by the Russian military, launching an SA-11 missile from the Russian side of the border to support the separatists.
One American official, who declined to be identified because he was discussing classified intelligence, said that the Russian military had two surface-to-air missile batteries positioned close to the border but that there was no conclusive evidence that those batteries fired the shot that brought down the Ukrainian plane on Monday.
This week’s attacks came after a string of earlier incidents, including the downing of several Ukrainian government helicopters and a Ukrainian plane used to monitor the “Open Skies” treaty, which allows unarmed military surveillance flights over countries that have signed it. Those attacks were attributed to Ukrainian separatists, who are believed to have amassed an arsenal of shoulder-fired antiaircraft systems in an effort to neutralize the Ukrainian government’s advantage in the air.
On Thursday, officials in Kiev also said that a Ukrainian SU-25 attack jet was shot down during a dogfight with a Russian plane. American officials said they did not have enough information to say why the plane crashed.
Despite the chaos in the skies over Ukraine, passenger aircraft continued to operate in the region. Only the airspace above Crimea and its surrounding waters was completely closed to aircraft. The Malaysian plane was flying on an approved route — the assumption by international aviation organizations was that civilian jetliners could fly far above the danger. It was flying at 33,000 feet on a busy route known as Airway L980, used by commercial carriers between Asia and northern Europe.
Edward Hunt, a defense consultant at IHS Jane’s, said this was not unusual. “Lots of air corridors around the globe go over unstable areas,” he said.
Kyla Evans, a spokeswoman for Eurocontrol, the Brussels-based agency that coordinates regional air-traffic management, said that the Ukrainian government had closed the route to any civilian air traffic flying below 32,000 feet.
In spite of the lower-elevation prohibition, Airway L980 had been busy with traffic each day flying the allowed higher elevations, the aviation official said. Prominent passenger carriers, including Malaysia Airlines and Air India, had continued to use it. But there had been worrying signs, and many carriers had begun to plan flights that skirted the conflict area.
Mikael Robertsson, a co-founder of FlightRadar24, a live flight-tracker service, said that some 300 to 400 commercial aircraft had flown the airways over eastern Ukraine each day before the war, but that in recent months the traffic had fallen by at least half.
“Some airlines chose to use other routes,” he said.
But even after Monday’s downing of one of its transport planes, the Ukrainian government did not issue a Notice to Airmen, or Notam, closing the airspace, and both Eurocontrol and airlines continued to approve flight plans over eastern Ukraine.
Mr. Robertsson called it “a stupid decision to keep it open.”
Russia, meanwhile, had taken steps to warn civilian aircraft not to fly over Russian territory near eastern Ukraine, where some of its own military forces are deployed.
A Russian notice issued Wednesday declared that the airway closings were necessary “due to combat actions on the territory of the Ukraine near the state border with the Russian Federation.”
The closings were effective at midnight Wednesday — just hours before Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 took off. Because they were over Russian territory, these closings did not cover the area in Ukraine where Flight 17 crashed. But the plane was flying toward the closed areas, and it was not clear why the airline or Eurocontrol would have approved its flight plan in the face of such warnings. The United States closed the area to American flights on Thursday night.
Kenneth P. Quinn, the general counsel of the Flight Safety Foundation, said that even if there were a notice to airmen that any of the airspace was closed, a shooting down “would still represent a flagrant violation of international law and an irresponsible attack on international civil aviation, because there are protocols in place to provide warning and precautions prior to shoot-down, whether surface-to-air or air-to-air.”
Ms. Evans, at Eurocontrol, said that since the crash, the airspace in eastern Ukraine, known as the Dnipropetrovsk Flight Information Region, has been closed until further notice. Now, Eurocontrol is rejecting all flight plans proposing to cross the region.
Mr. Hunt noted that many of the rebel antiaircraft systems have had limited ranges, and the Ukrainian and Russian troops that possess longer-range air-defense systems have protocols for using them that reduce the likelihood of firing at clearly civilian targets.
He said the Ukrainian military transport plane that was struck on Monday was distinctly different from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing aircraft. Because of that, he said it would be difficult for a trained air-defense crew to mistake one type of aircraft for the other.