Tuesday, July 22, 2014

#Ukraine's War Crimes trials a step closer after Red Cross & Human Rights Watch inspectors assess Complaints

 

Ukraine war crimes trials a step closer after Red Cross assessment

GENEVA Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:32am EDT

 

(Reuters) - The Red Cross has made a confidential legal assessment that Ukraine is officially in a war, Western diplomats and officials say, opening the door to possible war crimes prosecutions, including over the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH-17.
"Clearly it's an international conflict and therefore this is most probably a war crime," one Western diplomat in Geneva told Reuters.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the guardian of the Geneva Conventions setting down the rules of war, and as such is considered a reference in the United Nations deciding when violence has evolved into an armed conflict.
"Within the U.N. system, it's the ICRC that makes that determination. They are the gate keepers of international humanitarian law," said one U.N. source.

The ICRC has not made any public statement - seeking not to offend either Ukraine or Russia by calling it a civil war or a case of foreign aggression - but it has done so privately and informed the parties to the conflict, sources told Reuters.
"The qualification has been shared bilaterally and confidentially," ICRC spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk told Reuters on Friday. "We do not discuss it publicly."
The designation as a war - either international or civil - changes the game legally, because it turns both sides into combatants with equal liability for war crimes, which have no statute of limitations and cannot be absolved by an amnesty.

Suspects may also be arrested abroad, since some countries apply "universal jurisdiction" to war crimes.
Without the designation, Ukrainian government forces would be responsible for protecting civilians and infrastructure under international human rights law, while separatists would only be liable under Ukraine's criminal laws.

"It changes their accountability on the international stage," said Andrew Clapham, director of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. "This makes individuals more likely to be prosecuted for war crimes."
Dutch prosecutors have opened an investigation into the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 on suspicion of murder, war crimes and intentionally downing an airliner, a spokesman said on Monday. [ID:nL6N0PW2VI]
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Based on the Law on International Crimes, the Netherlands can prosecute any individual who committed a war crime against a Dutch citizen. The 298 people who were killed when the plane was downed over Ukraine included 193 Dutch citizens.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in May that the country had collapsed into civil war, while Ukraine regards the conflict as a war involving Russian aggression.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Stephanie Nebehay/Jeremy Gaunt)

 
Ukraine: Letter to President Poroshenko on military operations in Luhansk and Donetsk
July 18, 2014
Petro Poroshenko
President of Ukraine
Dear Mr. President,
I am writing to raise issues relating to the conduct of military operations in Luhansk and Donetsk regions, in particular the shelling of a hospital in Krasny Liman and air strikes in the villages of Luhanskaya and Kondrashevka.
Human Rights Watch considers that the hostilities between Ukrainian government forces and armed insurgent forces identifying themselves as the South-East Army and the Donetsk People’s Army constitute an internal, or non-international, armed conflict under international humanitarian law. Therefore, Ukrainian forces and insurgent armed groups are bound by customary international humanitarian law to take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects and to refrain from attacks that fail to discriminate between combatants and civilians, or would cause disproportionate harm to the civilian population.
Since the beginning of the crisis, Human Rights Watch has documented abuses by all parties. We have documented numerous incidents of killings, kidnapping, torture and ill-treatment, threats and other abuses by insurgent forces against political activists, civil servants, investigative journalists, and the like. We also documented several cases of enforced disappearances of journalists working for Russian TV stations and self-proclaimed Donetsk People Republic’s (DNR) administration by Ukrainian forces.
From July 1 to 5, Human Rights Watch carried out a field mission to areas where the armed conflict is ongoing to examine compliance with international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict. We received information that insurgents were unlawfully holding civilians captive and subjecting them to cruel and degrading treatment, which would constitute a war crime. We also examined an apparently targeted attack on a hospital in Krasny Liman, in Donetsk region which resulted in civilian casualties and loss of civilian life and property during aerial strikes in the Luhansk region. We call upon you to ensure a thorough, prompt, and effective investigation into these cases, to publicize the investigation’s findings, and in case violations of international humanitarian law are established, to hold perpetrators accountable.
Krasny Liman
On July 2, Human Rights Watch visited Krasny Liman, some 20 kilometers southeast of Sloviansk, which at the time was the insurgents’ stronghold in the Donetsk region. The visit was carried out in cooperation with a leading Russian non-governmental organization, “Memorial Human Rights Center,” and three Ukrainian human rights organizations (Kharkiv Human Rights Group, Independent Monitors’ Organization, and Civil Liberties Center), and the account below reflects the report these groups published on July 8.
Russian and pro-insurgent media had reported that on June 3, during operations to re-establish government control over Krasny Liman, Ukrainian forces’ shells had hit a hospital on the southern edge of town, killing a doctor and wounding several civilians. One of the leaders of the self-proclaimed DNR also stated in an interview for Russian federal television that Ukrainian servicemen killed “25 wounded [insurgent] fighters in the Krasny Liman hospital.” When speaking to the press during his visit to Normandy, France, on June 6, Vladimir Putin made a special mention of the Ukrainian forces, “taking-over a hospital and shooting the wounded dead.” Ukrainian authorities denied the allegations. Human Rights Watch found it imperative to look into this highly publicized case
Human Rights Watch interviewed a commander and several servicemen of the Ministry of Internal Affair’s Artyomovsk battalion, several Kransy Liman residents, and the hospital personnel. We also visited the hospital. Human Rights Watch was not able to find evidence to corroborate the allegations that wounded persons were shot in the hospital. However we have strong grounds to believe Ukrainian forces deliberately targeted the hospital for attack as they believed—falsely—that there were insurgents on the ground. Under international humanitarian law it is prohibited to direct an attack against hospitals, medical units, or any place used for sheltering the wounded and sick, including combatants hors de combat. Article 3, common to all Geneva Conventions, and applicable to non-international armed conflict also requires that anyone not taking active part in hostilities, including insurgents placed hors de combat by sickness or injury shall be treated humanely, and that the wounded and sick are to be cared for.
The hospital that had been shelled is known as the “railway hospital” due to the fact that under normal circumstances it provides services exclusively to workers of the railway system and their families as part of their benefits package. It has 100 beds, 80 of which were filled on the day of the attack, according to the medical personnel interviewed by Human Rights Watch.
The chief doctor, Leonid Zagursky, and two junior medical personnel told Human Rights Watch that on June 3 the shelling started unexpectedly, and that they had no time to evacuate patients or take other precautions.
Medical personnel told Human Rights Watch that mortar shelling began at around 3:30 p.m. and the attack lasted no longer than 10 minutes, with a total of nine shells hitting the hospital and its grounds. Dr. Zagursky told Human Rights Watch that the hospital’s only surgeon, 62-year-old Vasiliy Shistka, had just finished a planned operation when the shelling started. As he was walking out of the operating room, a shell fragment hit him on the head. He died several days later as a result of his injury. No other hospital personnel or patients were killed or wounded in the attack.
The chief doctor told Human Rights Watch that on the morning of June 4, a group of Ukrainian servicemen approached the hospital in an armored carrier to carry out a sweep operation, as they believed insurgents were using the hospital for military purposes. According to Dr. Zagursky, they did not show any identification documents but demanded that he lead them through all the wards. Doctor Zagursky had to move from ward to ward opening doors and several servicemen with cocked automatic guns walked behind him. Having examined all the wards and hospital grounds in that manner, the military acknowledged there were no insurgents present.
Doctor Zagursky told Human Rights Watch:
I was very stressed. My hospital was severely damaged, my colleague was dying. I screamed at them, “Why did you do this? Why did you attack the hospital? It’s full of patients, our surgeon is going to die, and more people could’ve been hit!” If you have nine shells fired once at the same place you just know it’s targeted. Of course, I did not know for a fact the mortars were theirs [Ukrainian] but as they came to the hospital “to mop it up” from insurgents that actually weren’t there … so, their commander showed me a map and said, “Look here. Here is your hospital marked on the map. And it’s marked specifically as an insurgent hospital. That’s why it happened.” I said, “But you’ve looked all over and you haven’t found anything suspicious. We’ve never had any insurgents here. It’s an ordinary hospital and we’re only servicing railroad workers.…” Five days later, another group of Ukrainian servicemen came to the hospital for another “mop-up” visit. I complained to the town commandant and they stopped bothering us.
Two medical workers, interviewed separately from Dr. Zagursky, confirmed the latter’s account.
The hospital suffered significant damage from the shelling. In particular, the roof and infrastructure of general therapy wing is seriously damaged, as are the walls and infrastructure of surgery wing, gynecology wing, and the hospital’s pharmacy. The windows were shattered by the explosions and glass shards and other debris still had not been fully cleaned up on the day of Human Right Watch’s visit.
Human Rights Watch also viewed numerous photographs taken by the hospital personnel right after the attacks and examined nine craters from the shells and several remaining fragments, which were consistent with a 120 mm mortar attack. Human Rights Watch also examined the neighboring buildings and noted that they have not suffered any damage except very small shell fragment damage to some of the walls, which also supports the chief doctor’s belief in the targeted nature of the attack.
Dr. Zagursky told Human Rights Watch that he filed a complaint with the district prosecutor’s office and passed all shell fragments and photographs to prosecutors. The prosecutor’s office staff recorded his testimony and examined the hospital grounds. The investigation is currently ongoing.
As there is strong evidence suggesting the targeted nature of this attack on the hospital, which resulted in a civilian casualty and significant damage to the infrastructure, Human Rights Watch urges you to ensure the investigation is full and impartial and its results are made public.
We are concerned that this attack was a violation of the prohibition of directing attacks against hospitals or medical personnel as well as civilians and those hors de combat due to sickness or injury.
Luhanskaya and Staraya Kondrashevskaya (Kondrashevka), Luhansk Region
On July 4, Human Rights Watch, jointly with Memorial Human Rights Center, visited the villages of Luhanskaya – close to the Russian border and approximately 10 kilometers northeast of the city of Luhansk, one of the remaining insurgents’ strongholds in eastern Ukraine – and the neighboring Staraya Kondrashevskaya. Also known by local residents as Kondrashevka, Staraya Kondrashevskaya is officially viewed as the northern part of Luhanskaya and is located on the other side of the railroad crossing. In both villages we documented civilian casualties and property damage resulting from two alleged aerial strikes on July 2. The combined population of Luhanskaya and Kondrashevka is about 15,000 people.
In a statement cited in media reports, Andrei Lysenko, spokesperson for the National Security and Defense Council, said that the Ministry of Defense had seized insurgent Grad launchers and had determined that they had been used to shell Stanitsya-Luganskaya (Luhanskaya), and firmly denied that Ukrainian forces’ artillery or aviation had been used to attack this village. (See for example, http://korrespondent.net/ukraine/3387085-stanytsu-luhanskuui-obstrelialy-separatysty-est-zhertvy-tsentr-ato; http://inforesist.org/sily-ato-zaxvatili-ustanovku-grad-s-kotoroj-terroristy-vchera-obstrelyali-stanicu-luganskuyu/.)
Human Rights Watch’s research in Luhanskaya and Kondrashevka revealed no evidence of Grad use in the villages and strongly indicated that aviation attacks had taken place on the villages. Sixteen local residents of these two villages interviewed by Human Rights Watch described hearing the noise of a plane engine, and several also said they saw the actual aircraft in the sky. Multiple shell entry points, which were also examined by Human Rights Watch, suggest airstrikes as they were approximately two meters in diameter. Human Rights Watch also collected some unidentified explosive weapon fragments, though most of the fragments had been cleared away before our arrival. The fragments and the damage we documented are consistent with allegations of air strikes.
Human Rights Watch is not in a position to establish conclusively which side conducted the aerial strikes. However, Human Rights Watch’s research suggest that Ukrainian forces may have conducted the strikes for the purpose of destroying an insurgent checkpoint/base located on a small hill around 800 meters from Moskva-Donbas Street, which was hit in Luhanskaya. The base is about three kilometers from Ostrovskaya Street, which was hit in neighboring Kondrashevka. During the three-and-a-half hours Human Rights Watch spent in each of these villages, our researchers did not see any insurgent presence, except at the checkpoint near Moskva-Donbas Street. Local residents interviewed by Human Rights Watch denied that insurgents were in the village on July 2 and denied the insurgents had maintained firing positions inside the villages.
Luhanskaya
Human Rights Watch examined six severely destroyed houses on Moskva-Donbas Street in Luhanskaya and spoke to six of the people who lived in and owned these homes. We also examined the local police department building, which was damaged. They referred to two deaths – an elderly male resident known in the village by his patronymic Palych (full name unknown) and another man who was apparently visiting with him when the strike occurred around 10.30 a.m. They also said that resident of Moskva-Donbas Street, a man by the last name of Podgoev, was wounded.
Ekaterina Bogdanova, owner and resident of 17 Moskva-Donbas Street, which was largely destroyed in the attack, told Human Rights Watch:
My husband and I spent the night in the basement of the local history museum – there was mortar fire between 3:30 and 5:30 a.m., and there were some 50 people there with us, the place is used as a shelter by those who don’t have proper basements. So, we only returned home in the morning when everything was quiet and went to bed. We awoke at 10.30, there was this horrid, deafening noise, debris was flying everywhere, and our house was collapsing on us. My husband covered me with his body … it’s a miracle we’re both OK except for small burns and lacerations.… This house was built by my family 203 years ago, it survived World War II and now it’s gone. How could it happen? Is this our punishment for living not far from the [insurgents’] checkpoint? Does this make us terrorists?
Bogdanova’s husband, Alexei Shelikhov, confirmed her account in an interview with Human Rights Watch.
A 25-year-old local resident, Stas (last name withheld on his request), told Human Rights Watch that he was at home when the airstrike happened at 10:30 am. He said:
I heard the rumble of a plane. I poked my head out of the window on the second floor trying to take a close look. The plane made three circles and suddenly, when it was again on the side which I could not see [the house blocked the view to the other side] there was this whooshing sound, a whooshing roar.… My daughter was napping right here on the bed – see, it’s now all covered in debris and the wall’s full of holes and half-collapsed – and I rushed to her and screamed to my wife, ‘Run, run!’ We literally rolled down the stairs with the girl in my arms, trying to cover her from flying debris. It’s a miracle we’re alive…
When Human Rights Watch interviewed Stas, he said he continued to have ringing in his ears, doctors in Luhansk had diagnosed his wife with a concussion, and their three-year-old daughter was waking up with nightmares.
Kondrashevka
Human Rights Watch documented greater civilian casualties and even more significant property damage on Ostrovskaya Street, in Kondrashevka. Human Rights Watch interviewed 10 witnesses who provided consisted descriptions of the airstrike on Ostrovskaya Street, which occurred at about noon on July 2. They listed nine civilian deaths resulting from the attack, including two children (ages were approximated by interviewees):
  1. Lidia Kirnosova, 51
  2. Stanislav Ivanov, 36
  3. Dmitry Shamardin, 45
  4. Mikhail Kalugin, 65
  5. Andrei Dyusik, 50
  6. Vladimir Ermilov, 49
  7. Ivan Ermilov, 5, son of Vladimir Ermilov
  8. Valentina Mironova, 62
  9. Three of the people we spoke to also referred to a four-year-old girl by the last name of Romanova, first name unknown, who was visiting her grandmother, Nadya Romanova, at the time of the attack.
Also, according to local residents, three people were wounded, including Tatiana Gazhemon whose leg had been blown off and who was in critical condition in the local hospital. Two local residents interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they saw Gazhemon being taken to the local hospital and inquired about her afterwards. The other two wounded, one of whom was interviewed by Human Rights Watch, were released from the hospital on July 4, having received treatment for fractures and light flesh wounds. Among the ten people interviewed by Human Rights Watch two lost their immediate family members.
Human Rights Watch examined nine destroyed houses on Ostrovskaya Street. Two of the houses – described by local residents as two-story buildings each with four apartments – caught fire and burned to the ground. The other seven were still partly standing but made uninhabitable due to collapsed roofs, collapsed walls, or fire damage. We also saw two houses that were damaged but remain habitable. The attack left Ostrovskaya Street with neither water nor electricity.
Human Rights Watch examined about a dozen shell entry point craters on both sides of the destroyed houses – on the road in front of them and in the backyards. The craters were at least two meters in diameter and therefore consistent with an air strike.
Galina Lobach, 67, who lives on Ostrovskaya Street, told Human Rights Watch:
It was close to noon. I was in the house alone and three [male] neighbors were sitting on the veranda across the street. There was a plane and this horrid whooooooooooooosh which just deafened me and everything was shaking … the three men [were killed]. Shreds [of their bodies] were everywhere.... It was so hard to figure out which body part belonged to whom. One was identified by a tattoo on his arm … no heads, no feet.... My other neighbor, from the house next door was killed in her garden. I cleaned what I could.
When Human Rights Watch approached Lobach for an interview she was searching her vegetable garden for remaining body fragments and the smell of charred human flesh still lingered in the air. Lobach’s face, arms, and legs bore multiple small lacerations from injuries she sustained from the attack.
Another local resident, 63-year-old Nadezhda Golovkova, resident of House #8/3 on Ostrovskaya Street, provided Human Rights Watch with the following account:
At around 10.30 [a.m.] I heard explosions from not too far away. I ran outside to find out what’s happening and a neighbor was talking on his cell phone … he hangs up and says, “A friend called me from Luhanskaya and he says they’re being bombed from a plane … bombs are falling on them from sky. A plane is bombing them.” I got so frightened, I felt faint. So, I went back inside to lie down. I was lying in bed, on top of the blanket, for a while, right here, and then there the roar of a plane, and this awful whooshing noise, and the wall next to my head shattered and I could not see anything from the debris.
Golovkova said that her neighbor’s son, five-year-old Ivan Ermilov, and his father had been among those killed by the strike, and that Ivan had just celebrated his fifth birthday the day before.
In light of strong allegations suggesting that the air strikes were carried out by Ukrainian forces, a detailed investigation is called for. If there were no insurgents deployed in Luhanskaya and Kondrashevka at the time, the attacks may have been in violation of international humanitarian law.
Human Rights Watch recognizes that the actions of the insurgents violate Ukrainian law, and that their military operations may also violate international humanitarian law by failing to take all feasible measures to minimize harm to civilians. However, while the Ukrainian government is entitled to carry out law enforcement and military operations to counter the armed insurrection, it also has obligations never to direct attacks at civilians or civilian objects or to engage in indiscriminate attacks; to distinguish at all times between civilian objects and military objectives; and to adhere strictly to the principle of proportionality insofar as attacks that may cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, or damage to civilian objects, in excess of the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, are prohibited. Under international humanitarian law the insurgents are bound by the same obligations, and under human rights standards, all parties must take all feasible measures to avoid, and in any event to minimize, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, and damage to civilian objects.
Respectfully yours,

Hugh Williamson
Director
Europe and Central Asia Division


July 22, 2014More Sharing Services 

Putin Knows What Happened to MH17, But He's Not Saying--Yet ....

What Putin Knows

by MIKE WHITNEY
 ”We have repeatedly called on all parties to immediately stop the bloodshed and sit down at the negotiating table. We strongly believe that if military action in the East of Ukraine had not been renewed on the 28th of June, this tragedy wouldn’t have happened. However, no one has the right to use this tragedy to pursue their own political aims. Such events should unite and not divide people.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Official statement on the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17
“Lets be clear, both Russia and the US know what happened. They’d have to. Their intelligence and orbital systems saw it all…. They’d have to know.”
Omen 4, comments line Zero Hedge
Washington’s plan to “pivot” to Asia by establishing a beachhead in Ukraine and sabotaging trade relations between Europe and Russia, entered a new phase last Thursday when Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile launched from east Ukraine. Since then, the western media and prominent members of the US political establishment have used the incident to attack Russia mercilessly and to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin personally responsible for the deaths of the 295 passengers.
On Sunday, the Obama administration launched its most impressive propaganda blitz to date, scheduling appearances for  US Secretary of State John Kerry  on all five Sunday morning talk shows where he made unsubstantiated claims that MH17 was shot down by Russia-backed rebels in east Ukraine.  According to Kerry, Russia has not only “supported, armed and trained” the separatists, but also provided them with the missile system (BUK) which was used to bring down the jetliner.
On CBS’s  “Face the Nation”, Kerry said:
“We know for certain that the separatists have a proficiency that they’ve gained by training from Russians as to how to use these sophisticated SA-11 systems….. there’s enormous amount of evidence, even more evidence than I just documented, that points to the involvement of Russia in providing these system, training the people on them.” (“Kerry Says Russia Trained Separatists to Use Antiaircraft Missiles”, New York Times)
Amazingly, Kerry’s claims don’t square with those of his boss, President Barack Obama who admitted on Friday that he didn’t know who shot down MH17 or why. He said, “I think it’s too early for us to be able to guess what intentions those who might have launched the surface-to-air missile might have had… In terms of identifying specifically what individual or group of individuals, you know, personnel ordered the strike, how it came about—those are things that I think are going to be subject to additional information that we’re going to be gathering.”
The fact that neither the contents of the black boxes or the cockpit recordings have yet been revealed didn’t deter Kerry from making accusations and possibly tainting the investigation. Nor did Kerry mention the fact that the Ukrainian military –who also had BUK missile systems in the area–may have mistakenly taken down the airliner. None of the five hosts challenged Kerry on any of his claims. He was able to provide the state’s view of the incident without challenge or debate, just as one would expect in a dictatorship where information is carefully monitored.
And Kerry didn’t stop there either. He went on to claim that Moscow had sent “a convoy several weeks ago of about 150 vehicles with armored personnel carriers, multiple rocket launchers, tanks, artillery, all of which crossed over from Russia into the eastern part of Ukraine and was turned over to the separatists.”
Needless to say, none of the major media or respective Intel agencies (who closely follow activities on the border) have uttered a word about Kerry’s phantom convoy. Without satellite imagery or some other proof, we must assume that Kerry’s claim is about as reliable as his bogus 4-page “White Paper” that pinned the use of sarin gas on the Syrian government, a charge that was designed to escalate US involvement in the Syrian war and–as journalist Robert Parry says, “spur President Obama into a quick decision to bomb Syrian government targets.”
It’s also worth noting that the journalist who co-authored Sunday’s piece on Kerry in the New York Times was none other than Michael R. Gordon. In 2002 Gordon co-wrote a piece about aluminum tubes with Judith Miller which was intended to scare readers “with images of mushroom clouds” into supporting the war in Iraq.   The story turned out to be complete baloney, but it helped to pave the way for the US invasion as it was intended to do.   Gordon escaped blame for the article, while the discredited  Miller was released.
Now the politicians and the media are at it again; trying to whip up war fever to get the public on board for another bloody intervention. Only this time, the target audience is not really the American people as much as it is Europeans. The real objective here, is to build support for additional economic sanctions as well as a deployment of NATO troops to Russia’s western border. Washington want to sabotage further economic integration between the EU and Russia so that it can control  the flow of vital resources to the EU, crash the Russian economy, and establish a tollbooth between the continents. It’s all part of Washington’s “pivot” strategy that is critical to maintaining global hegemony throughout the 21st century. This is from the NY Times:
“If investigators are able to confirm suspicions that the Malaysia Airlines jet was brought down by a surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russian rebels who mistook it for a military aircraft, American officials expressed hope that the tragedy will underscore their case that Moscow has been violating Ukrainian sovereignty. While Mr. Obama imposed new sanctions on Russia just a day before, Europeans refused to adopt measures as stringent out of fear of jeopardizing their own economic ties….
The Obama administration already has additional sanctions prepared that could be put into effect quickly if Mr. Obama so chooses. “The question is does this finally move the Europeans across that threshold,” said a senior administration official, who insisted on anonymity to speak more candidly. “I don’t know, but how could it not?”
European officials were cautious in their initial reactions, seeking time and information before jumping to possible consequences, and were reluctant to assign blame. But most of the passengers were Europeans. The majority of them, 154 in all, were from the Netherlands, where the flight originated, which could increase pressure on European governments to respond….Some analysts said the disaster would invariably lead to a re-evaluation of Europe’s approach to Russia.
“Ultimately this is going to ratchet up pressure within Europe to do what they should have done a long time ago,” said John E. Herbst, a former American ambassador to Ukraine now at the Atlantic Council in Washington. “The strength of the opposition to firm steps remains strong, and so it’s not going to go away. It’s just that their position just took a serious hit and it should lead to a stronger set of European sanctions.”…
While Mr. Obama did not articulate such a position, his former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, gave voice publicly to what administration officials were saying privately….“Europeans have to be the ones to take the lead on this. It was a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over European territory. There should be outrage in European capitals.”
Can you see what’s going on? Washington doesn’t care about the facts. What matters to Obama and Co. is getting the Europeans on board (“ratcheting up pressure within Europe”) so they can gin up the sanctions, shut off  Russian gas, deprive Putin of a vital source of revenue, and set up shop (NATO bases) in Eurasia.” Whether US Intel agencies were involved in the missile attack or not doesn’t change the fact that Washington clearly benefits from the tragedy.
Keep in mind, that the reason Putin hasn’t deployed Russian troops to stop the violence in east Ukraine is because the EU is his biggest trading partner and he doesn’t want to do anything that will put the kibosh on their business dealings.  Russia needs Europe just like Europe needs Russia. They’re a perfect fit, which is why Washington has concocted this goofy plan to throw a wrench in the works. It’s because Washington wants to be the Kingfish in Eurasia and control the continents’ resources as well as the growth of regional economies. To achieve that objective, they need to convince EU leaders and people that Putin is a reckless aggressor who can’t be trusted. That’s why Kiev has launched one provocation after another since the legitimate Ukrainian government (Viktor Yanukovych) was ousted in late February and replaced with by a US-backed junta government. Most of the provocations have gone unreported in the western media, although they have regularly involved violations of international law and crimes against humanity, like the use of incendiary “phosphorous” ordnance on June, 12 in Slavyansk,    or the bombing of a kindergarten in Slavyansk  or the deliberate bombing of hospitals in east Ukraine,  or the killing of journalists  or the firing of mortar rounds across the border into Russia  or the massacre at Odessa where 42 people were burned to death in a fire at the Trade Unions Building that was started by pro-junta hooligans and neo Nazis. None of these were reported in the western media where the coverage is tailored to advance the corporate-state agenda.
All of these incidents were concocted with one goal in mind; to provoke Putin into sending in the tanks thus providing the media with the opportunity to demonize him as the new Hitler. Putin has wisely avoided that trap deciding instead to work collaboratively with EU leaders Merkel and  Hollande to try to persuade Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko to stop the bombardment in the east and agree to an immediate ceasefire.
Poroshenko, however, who takes his orders from Washington, has refused to end the violence. In fact, on Monday the “chocolate king” launched a massive attack on the city of Donetsk, home to nearly one million civilians. Here’s a clip from a report from RT on Monday July 21:
“A heavy firefight is underway in a section of the city of Donetsk, with cannonade heard downtown. Self-defense reports of pro-Kiev armored vehicles and infantry trying to cut through defenses next to the central railway terminal.
Ukrainian troops equipped with tanks and armored vehicles are making an attempt to break into Donetsk, a city of approximately 950,000 people, an official of the rebels’ self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Sergey Kavtaradze, informed Reuters.” (“Kiev forces attack city of Donetsk, civilian casualties reported“, RT)
Poroshenko has no intention of complying with a ceasefire, because a ceasefire does not achieve the Obama administration’s objective, which is to lure Putin into a bloody and protracted guerilla war. This is what makes the downing of MH17 so suspicious, because it could very well be a false flag operation intended to hurl more mud on Putin.
In any event, the fate of MH17 isn’t going to be a secret for long. As journalist Pepe Escobar points out in a recent piece in the Asia Times,  Russian intelligence has collected tons of data that will help connect the dots. Here’s a clip from Escobar’s latest titled “It was Putin’s missile?”:
“Russian intelligence (has)  been surveilling/tracking everything that happens in Ukraine 24/7. In the next 72 hours, after poring over a lot of tracking data, using telemetry, radar and satellite tracking, they will know which type of missile was launched, from where, and even produce communications from the battery that launched it. And they will have access to forensic evidence.” (“It was Putin’s missile?” Pepe Escobar, Asia Times)
So, one way or another, we’re going to know what happened.  The US and Russia have the data they need to figure out where the missile was launched and who launched it. They probably even have recordings of  communications between Air Traffic Tower and the airliner. They know it all, but they’ll probably be cautious about what they reveal and when they reveal it.
My guess, is that Putin will drag his feet to see whether the investigation is thorough, transparent and even-handed or an elaborate hoax used to discredit him in the eyes of his trading partners.
Clearly, the Obama team see this as an opportunity to do a number on Putin, so they could be tempted to use fake evidence like the grainy photos that popped up in the New York Times some months ago that were supposed to prove that Russian military experts were secretly directing the rebellion in east Ukraine. (The photos were fake.) If they try a stunt like that this time around, Putin will be ready for them. And, of course, if he has solid proof that the plane was blown up by Poroshenko’s henchmen, then there could be hell to pay. In fact, it might just bring Obama’s proxy war to a screeching halt.
One can only hope.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.
 

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