• U.S. investigative journalist, Russian defense officials insist Ukraine—not Russia—shot down passenger airliner.
By Richard Walker —
Within 24 hours of the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, Washington and the mass media pointed an accusing finger at Russia without a shred of evidence. They have still not produced evidence to back claims Russia provided pro-Russian militias in Ukraine with a Buk missile battery that took down the Boeing plane on July 17, 2014, killing everyone on board. Instead, the initial efforts to portray Russia as the bad guy to further damage the image of Russian President Vladimir Putin and provide a case for added economic sanctions against Russia have been replaced by a deafening silence and a willingness to deny the public evidence, which could point to the real perpetrators.
On the day the plane was shot down, Russian radar detected highly unusual activity in an area held by the Ukrainian military and also in the sky close to Flight MH17.
According to Russian Lieutenant General Andrei Kartopolov, one of his nation’s leading military figures, a Ukrainian Sukhoi SU-25 fighter jet was in the same civilian airline corridor as the Malaysian plane and only a few miles from it. The SU-25 was armed with R-60 air-to-air missiles capable of easily hitting a target at that distance.
The fighter would also have been visible to the satellites with which the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had been watching eastern Ukraine for months. Neither intelligence agency has commented on the Russian claim.
Meanwhile, Washington’s ally, the Kiev government, has refused to acknowledge or explain why one of its jets was so close to the doomed plane.
Another important fact ignored by the Western media in the rush to judgment to blame Russia was that the Ukrainian military possessed Soviet-era Buk air-defense missile batteries and some were located in eastern Ukraine. That uncomfortable truth has been ignored and denied by Kiev and Washington in order to keep the focus on pro-Russian militias.
From the outset, Kiev, Washington and the mass media preferred to blame the militias for using a Russian-supplied Buk and its radars to track and destroy the plane. Some journalists even claimed a missile was fired at the plane from within Russia.
Russia’s military has since produced satellite images showing the Ukrainian military had a Buk battery in eastern Ukraine close the city of Lugansk on July 14, three days before the plane was downed. More telling is Kartopolov’s satellite evidence showing the same missile battery was moved close to the area controlled by the militias shortly before the plane was shot out of the sky, and there were at least nine Ukrainian military radars, used to control the Buk, functioning on July 17, the fateful day.
For Kartopolov, an even stranger fact is those radars went silent the next day. No reason has been offered by Kiev or its backers for the highly unusual radar activity at such a critical juncture.
U.S. investigative journalist Robert Parry has slammed Washington and the U.S. media for the rush to judgment in this matter and for their failure to look at all the evidence. He worries their ignorance and prejudice could lead the United States into a war with Russia.
In the recent past, this sort of sloppy American journalism has led to mass slaughters in Iraq and has contributed to near U.S. wars on Syria and Iran. But now the stakes are much higher.
“As much fun as it is to heap contempt on a variety of ‘designated villains,’ such as Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad, Ali Khamenei and now Vladimir Putin, this sort of recklessness is careening the world toward a very dangerous moment, conceivably its last,” warns Parry.
This reporter recently spoke to a serving member of Russian’s Federal Security Services, who preferred to remain anonymous. He echoed the views of Parry that the U.S. media had been too ready to listen to the Kiev regime, which has a reputation for lying. He had also read Parry’s comments in a widely circulated article. However, he felt there has been a conspiracy of silence and Kiev forces may well have downed the plane over eastern Ukraine in order to blame pro-Russian militias and ultimately Russia.
“If the CIA and NSA had evidence from their satellites that militias or the Russian military shot MH17 out of the sky, they would have produced it for the world,” he said. “The one thing we can be certain of is, they have evidence, but the question is, what does it show? If it shows the plane was taken down by an R-60 missile fired by the SU-25 or by a Buk-launched missile, or both, are they going to tell the world that their allies in Kiev were responsible?”
He added that there is another odd part of the puzzle that has yet to be released to the public.
“The British and the Dutch have had possession of the plane’s black boxes and other forensic materials long enough to reach a conclusion about what took the plane out of the sky,” said the source.
Despite this, the governments of the two countries have been tight-lipped about what the black box recordings say.
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.