The Dutch report on the shooting down of the Malaysian jetliner last year released this week has attracted enormous attention but the report the International Investigative Group promises to release by early next year of the basis of the Dutch study may deserve even more. Together, they should give Vladimir Putin serious cause for concern, Andrey Piontkovsky says.
The Dutch report focuses on “the physical and technical causes of the crash,” without seeking to name those responsible,while the International Investigative Group formed by the governments of the Netherlands, Malaysian, Australia, Belgium, the US and Ukraine sought to identify those responsible.
The latter group declared, Piontkovsky says, that it is “conducting a criminal investigation of the catastrophe, the final goal of which is the identification of the guilty in these crimes and their punishment.” Doing so, it added, will be difficult and inevitably take some time.
Both groups, the Russian analyst says, “have worked quite productively,” with the former doing so on the technical side, separating out what can be confirmed from “all the trash thrown out by Russian media.” It showed, for example, that the plane was brought down by a rocket of a kind only used by Russian forces and not in any case available to Ukrainian ones.
The Dutch report at the same time destroyed the bases for “all the reminding versions popular in Russia.” It thus represents “the most valuable material for the work of the International Investigative Group which promises to present a summary document” naming those responsible by February of next year.
Piontkovsky says that he “understands those who have experienced a certain disappointment after the publication” of the Danish report. “But it is one thing to know the facts and another to have a system of incontrovertible legal evidence which would be accepted in any court and convince independent judges or a jury.” That the Investigative Group will provide.
“In the Kremlin, they have already succeeded in saying that the report is politicized, that it did not use data from the Russian side, and that ‘the single positive part of the report is the accusation that Ukraine ‘did not shut down its air space.’” That has long been a staple of Moscow propaganda: “it isn’t important who shot down the place, responsibility always lies on that state in the skies of which the jet was shot down.”
The Moscow propaganda machine continues to work, calling white black and black white and offering so many versions that even when the Investigative Group’s report comes out, Russians will see it as just one of many and dismiss it. That is beyond question the Kremlin’s intention.
But when the Investigative Group names names and an international tribunal is convened it will be a different matter. When that will happen is uncertain, but crimes of this type do not have a statute of limitations. If it is convened in the near term, the accused will certainly be tried without their presence.
However, “all the suspects are comparatively young people, even he who is a little older. He has good health [and] will live a long time.” But the charges against the Kremlin leader will hang over him forever, the result of these two reports and the eventual case that will be lodged against him.