Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

MH-17: means, motive and opportunity

26 February 2016


Any crime requires means, motive and opportunity. Without any reasonable doubt the Russian army was involved in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17. They had the means (Buk-M1 surface-to-air missile system) and the opportunity (using Ukrainian soil and separatist fighters). But what about motive??

On 24 February 2016, a private international group of researchers, known as Bellingcat, “links higher-ups in Russia’s military chain of command to the tragedy” (GS). Bellingcat even states: “Ultimately, responsibility for the downing of MH17 from a weapon provided and possibly operated by the Russian military lies with the Ministry of Defense and the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces, President Vladimir Putin”.

It seems that Bellingcat is operating well ahead of the investigation by the Dutch Safety Board, a government agency charged with investigating aviation disasters, and also ahead of the four-nation Joint Investigation Team, which is responsible for assigning criminal blame. Possibly Bellingcat has ulterior motives (source) but that would not affect ‘means‘ and ‘opportunity‘. Bellingcat may confuse the concepts of accountability and responsibility and does not address motive.

Clearly, as Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces, the Russian President is accountable for any acts of his army. Nevertheless, in some cases it is conceivable that he is not responsible for wrongdoings of the Russian Army. That would normally imply that (a part of) his army would act against his orders. That thought alone is worrisome.

Since 17 July 2014 I have been wondering about the other ingredient for committing a crime: motive. What could the Russian President’s motive be for this crime??

The status quo of the war in East Ukraine bugs me. Why invade a country and then “stop”? The Ukrainian situation does not make any sense when you compare it to the Russian invasion of the Crimea. Allegedly, the Russian President even said the following to the Ukrainian President in 2014: “If I wanted, in two days I could have Russian troops not only in Kiev, but also in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucharest.” (eg, Süddeutsche ZeitungTelegraph)

Perhaps this was a Russian threat, perhaps it was Mr Putin’s way of denying responsibility for the war in Ukraine. And perhaps even both. Unfortunately, Mr Putin may also have implied that he does not control all of his vast Russian Army. Again, that thought is very worrisome.

In my 3 February 2016 blog, I referred to the following Guardian quote of 1 March 2015: “It has been suggested for a long time that the serious popular threat to Putin comes not from liberals but from nationalists, and these forces have been newly invigorated by the war in east Ukraine”.

The Russian President is fully accountable for his army but responsibility requires motive. I suspect that the motive for downing MH-17 lies with nationalist parts of the Russian Army in order to destabilise the Russian leadership and its President and also to blame Ukraine for this tragedy.


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