Members of a joint investigation team present the preliminary results of the criminal investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 , in Nieuwegein, on September 28, 2016. (Image: Emmanuel Dunand / AFP)
Proof that Moscow was behind the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner MH17 has far larger and more explosive consequences than many now think because unlike the Soviet Union’s shooting down of the KAL jet, this latest action was “a crime within the crime” of invading Ukraine, according to Russian commentator Igor Eidman.
That fact makes Vladimir Putin, now “an unmasked but not yet disarmed criminal” even “more dangerous” because he is likely to conclude that he has “nothing to lose” by acting ever more aggressively at home and abroad and every reason to do so in order to delay any day of reckoning for his crimes.
Some analysts have suggested that neither the USSR nor the US suffered “any particular consequences” when the first by intention shot down the Korean jetliner and the latter accidentally shot the Iranian one. But that was the case, Eidman says, only because these actions, unlike the shooting down of MH17 didn’t occur in the course of a larger crime.
He suggests that the following analogy helps to understand why the current case is different: If gangsters kill an innocent bystander while robbing a bank, “in recognizing that these gangsters killed someone, one cannot fail to recognize that they also robbed the bank and shot at policemen.”
In the current case, if one has the kind of proof that the international commission has now provided that Russia shot down the MH17, “one must automatically recognize Russian aggression” because the Russian forces which did this were illegally on the territory of a foreign state – Ukraine – and were firing from positions acquired by aggression.
That puts the final nail in the coffin of Putin’s insistence that “’there is no evidence’ of the participation of the Russian army in the war against Ukraine,” Eidman points out. Now , it has been demonstrated that “the Russian president began a secret war against a neighboring European state as a result of which tens of thousands of people have died.”
“The entire world not only knows but has legal evidence that the blood of these victims is on [Putin] and his subordinates, and this means that they de facto have already been recognized as international military criminals.”
Those who suggest that Putin will now back down in some way do not understand him or his position. The Kremlin leader “cannot but understand that only remaining in office will defend him from a reckoning for his crimes.” He will thus hold onto the presidency ever more tightly, Eidman argues, and won’t even consider a 2008 arrangement in which he allows someone else to function under his control.
Putin will certainly continue to suggest that the conclusions about MH17 are evidence of “a conspiracy against Russia,” which may win him some support at home for a time. And he is likely to continue to try to present himself to the West as its ally against Islamist terrorism, although that too will be ever less successful given what he says at home and does in Aleppo.
The Kremlin leader’s next moves, Eidman argues, are likely to include both the imposition of “a chauvinist and xenophobic ideology” on the Russian people and more actions in foreign affairs based on the proposition that “’the best defense is a good offense’” with “ever more new military adventures” to follow.
As Putin himself has observed, “a rat finds himself cornered will lash out at those around him until he falls under the irreversible wheel of history.”
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