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Jul 14, 2017

Three years on from MH17, the real culprits (not Russia) have never been held responsible

Politicians like to huff and puff about Russian involvement in the downing of MH17, but it is Malaysia Airlines that should be held responsible.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

MH17 crash site

Let’s be blunt about the Malaysia Airlines MH17 atrocity, which killed all 298 people who were on board the Boeing 777-200ER as it was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014 and was shot down over disputed territory in eastern Ukraine by a Russian-made BUK missile.

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22 thoughts on “Three years on from MH17, the real culprits (not Russia) have never been held responsible

  1. greg

    My sources (Russian) initially insisted they had radar scans of Ukrainian fighters going up to attack the plane. When Buk rocket parts were found they said they were parts from an older type of Buk given to Ukraine before Soviet breakup. Possible false flag operation?

      1. SQuinny1

        Too much reliance on Yatsenyuk in that for mine.

    1. Tony Syad

      The holes in the cockpit looked rather round to me. Cannon fire?

  2. pinkocommierat

    Ben: given that a range of other carriers including SIA used that airspace at the same time, is it too harsh to say MAS’s safety culture was cactus? I have no idea as to the altitude of the SIA flight, though…

    1. Woopwoop

      There are lots of conflicts in the world, and planes must fly over all sorts of territories. It’s easy to say in hindsight that this particular conflict should have been avoided.

    2. Ben Sandilands

      Pinkocommierat ,
      I don’t think so. While this is about a Malaysia Airlines flight it could on that day easily been one of several Singapore Airlines fights, 777s and A380s, or an Air-India 787-8. I’ve been among those reporters strongly critical of the decisions of many airlines including Singapore Airlines, that chose to use that airspace over a prolonged period of time during which aircraft were being destroyed by missiles. I also discovered two flights I did on Singapore Airlines prior to the atrocity on an A380 to and from Paris had used that airspace. While I am a strong admirer of Singapore Airlines I thought its diligence in relation to these flight corridors was frankly, unacceptable, and I said so in various posts at the time. However this is a post about Malaysia Airlines, and I’m was not going to be distracted from the core issues.

  3. jmendelssohn

    In all fairness to MAS I was on a Singapore flight over that very same area less than two weeks before.

  4. klewso

    It could have been any plane, sacrificed on the altar of profit.

  5. James O'Neill

    Ben, this is a huge topic very much misrepresented by the usual suspects. Thank you for resisting the Russia bashing that passes for so much “journalism” in the msm. I have two questions for you that the media in this country refuse to address; i.e. will not publish or discuss the implications.
    1. Immediately after MH17 was downed, Kerry said words to the effect, “we know what happened” because at the time the Americans had three spy satellites overhead. Yet that information has never been publicly released despite it being capable of providing many answers to the questions you raise or hint at.
    2. On 8 august 2014 Australia signed an agreement with the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine that the results of the investigation would not be published unless all four (later 5 as Malaysia joined) agreed. This gave an effective veto to at least one of the prime suspects, Ukraine. Not only has that MOU not been released in Australia, the msm refuse to even acknowledge its existence. It is legitimate to ask why.

    1. CML

      I agree with your comments, James.
      It has been known since this incident that Russia released their satellite information very shortly after it occurred. You may well ask why the USA has NOT done the same thing.
      Something to hide…someone to protect perhaps? Shame on the Australian government for not insisting on ALL available information being released, before jumping to dodgy conclusions in our name!

    2. Ben Sandilands


      Those are very legitimate concerns and they have not been addressed.

    3. Iskandar

      Hi James. Ben is to be complemented for at least a few timid steps away from the conventional Russia-bashing narrative. But aside from stating the obvious that the air corridor over the war zone should have been closed, in fact still sticks pretty much to it. Fearing perhaps a neo-McCarthyist backlash if he went any further. Such are the times.

      But that said, yes, it’s no secret that Kerry went public on every talk-show with the claim the US knew exactly where “the missile” came from, but then never revealed anything of the sort. Instead there was that immediate explosion of “Putin’s Missile”-style hysteria in the British and local trash tabloid media, the ridiculous “Bellingcat” and many others, all suggestive of high-octane damage control and cover-up.

      There are many more questions deserving answers beyond your two. Such as “Cui Bono?” Certainly not Russia. Certainly yes the US and post-coup Ukraine. What did the radars of the Aegis-class NATO missile-carrying warship then in the Black Sea pick up? Why was Belgium a signatory to the non-disclosure agreement? Oddly, a possible answer to the latter just occurred to me as I write: it is the country in which NATO has its headquarters.

      In a perfect world there would be a demand for a thorough and independent re-investigation of the MH17 tragedy. But that would take political courage beyond anything our lot could ever muster up.

  6. Sputnick60

    Good Points Ben. Years ago a BA 747 almost ditched in the sea before it was decided notify airmen of volcanic smoke so flight planers would check a route plan for such a transit. I recall my surprise at the time that such a transit was possible give how wide the press coverage was for that particular eruption.
    Similarly, that war zone transits have been thought of as an “acceptable risk” worried me on each flight I took through particular bits of airspace during the last several years over the middle east. Surley logic would prefer skirting such areas in the manner volcanoes are now avoided. The hard lesson of MH317 was avoidable and I agree the operator is in the mix of those at fault.

  7. Robert Murray

    Yes, Malaysia Airlines may be a grubby, petty little carrier. How common…
    It is outrageous that they, or any organisation, are allowed to operate globally without transparency.
    However, this article’s dismissal of war as normal is unhelpful. The deaths of innocents and protesters in the conflict in Ukraine is just as tragic as the deaths of any of those passengers who thought or hoped they were not involved.

  8. steven westbrook

    It’s sad to have to say this, but the Soviet Union took 49 years to confess to the NKVD murders of Polish officers in Katyn Wood in 1940 (and without Gorbachev, this confession might not have happened). They blamed the Germans for decades, despite the evidence to the contrary. Given the precedent, our politicians need to stop raising hopes that the Russians will any time soon admit any involvement, let alone any body fronting up in a court with accepted jurisdiction and enforcement of decisions.

    1. Bob the builder

      “sad to have to say this” “given the precedent”

      What is any of this meant to mean, except empty disingenuity? The Soviets didn’t admit to something that happened 70 years ago, therefore Putin won’t admit to something a few years ago.

      What exactly makes you sad about this false equivalence?

      1. steven westbrook

        Putin is heir to this way of hinking as a previous KGB officer and Russian nationalist. For example, he denies the documented Red Army rapes of German women at the end of World War 2. Do you think he would be willing to break the mould and admit the likely involvement of Russian operatives in Ukraine, much less a blot on Russia’s prestige and self-image.

        1. James O'Neill

          A classic example of non sequitur thinking. Personally I prefer to act on actual evidence, not jumping to absurd conclusions because someone is a “nationalist” or allegedly denied rapes of German women (evidence?). Ask yourself one further question: cui bono? I struggle to see any benefit accruing to Russia from being responsible for a deliberate shootdown of a civilian airliner. On the other hand, there are a number who would benefit from heaping outrage and blame on Russia.

        2. Iskandar

          Thank you correspondent Steven for demonstrating so clearly what I earlier referred to as a neo-McCarthyist backlash. I don’t know what “hinking” is, but if you mean “thinking” then I doubt you have any access to Mr Putin’s thoughts on anything, so your comments are precisely what James calls a “non sequitur”. For your benefit this is “a statement that is not connected in a logical or clear way to anything said before it.” That said, do you at least understand what “McCarthyism” is?

          1. steven westbrook

            I will leave the argument with these comments : the point I am making is that for those who have watched the political cycle in Russia since Yeltsin there has been a reversion to secretive authoritarian nationalism. You cannot label me a Mcarthyist for merely pointing out
            that the Russian political and intelligence apparatus, out of which Putin emerged has a track record of secrecy and denial of which the Katyn Wood stonewalling was a cruel example. Today’s Russia is a former superpower recovering its national pride, downplaying the bad parts of its history and feeling threatened by NATO. In those circumstances it is unlikely that they will cooperate in a process that would be a national humiliation and potentially disclose operational information.

  9. Iskandar

    Correspondent Steven, you last contribution echoes the unsubstantiated assertions you made before, and my position remains the same, namely that there are no logical connections between the MH17 catastrophe, a contested fog-of-war event in 1940, and your assertion of somehow knowing the workings Mr Putin’s mind.

    McCarthyism is however something I know about. I lived as a child in North America and remember vividly the steady drumbeat of anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950’s, of which the HUAC and other witch hunts were the political expressions. The words “Communist” and “Russian” were completely interchangeable in those days. Today’s steady drumbeat of anti-Russia hysteria mimics all too well the McCarthy era, which is why I refer to it as “neo-McCarthyism”. McCarthy himself was utterly discredited and died soon after, according to some sources, of alcoholism.

    There are specific definitions of “McCarthyism”, but a generalised one is “The practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.” Very, I suggest, like what you are doing.

    Now, if you are truly concerned with “secrecy and denial”, perhaps you should focus your attention on the MH17 disaster, which is what this exchange is all about, and personally look for answers to some of the questions that I and correspondent James put up.