Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: No more games, Mr Putin

Though he cannot have wished it, the Russian President is responsible for this massacre. He must restrain his dogs of war

Share

For the moment it is impossible to say with  certainty that pro-Russian separatists fired the missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 and killed the 298 people on board. However, what is perfectly clear is that it was the Kremlin that created the conditions of instability in the region that led to this tragedy, armed the Russian separatists, and illegally occupied Crimea, which was sovereign Ukrainian territory. Had it respected Ukraine’s right to govern itself rather than undermining its independence, this would not have happened and the families of the 298 would not be grieving.

This is not to say that Vladimir Putin wanted this outcome or planned for it. If anything, in recent weeks he may have been trying to disentangle himself from his allies in Ukraine, many of whom appear to be beyond his direct control. President Putin has, in fact, created a monster in his own backyard that is now inflicting considerable damage on Russia’s relations with the rest of the world, her already tarnished reputation and on her economy. That an intercepted phone call suggests the downing of a civilian plane was a mistake only reinforces the sense of a situation spiralling out of control.

Ultimately, Mr Putin must bear responsibility for what happened because he did indeed create the forces that led to this massacre in the skies. Russia has to be held accountable for what is not far from an act of state-sponsored terrorism. The West failed to act sufficiently punitively when Russia annexed Crimea; it must not fail to do so now. President Obama says that the international community cannot stand “idly by”, and Senator John McCain promised there would be “hell to pay”, and those pledges need to be upheld. Hell, in this case, means further damage to the Russian economy, adding to the economic sanctions already implemented. There should be no loosening of these additional measures until the Kremlin starts to co-operate with its neighbour and helps, or at least allows, the Ukrainian authorities to regain control of their contested regions. In particular, those responsible for the attack on MH17 must be brought to justice, and the full story of how they procured such sophisticated weaponry has to be told.

It is difficult to believe that post-Soviet Russia should have ended up where it is today, as much of an international pariah as in the days of Brezhnev. The spread of nationalities on board the airliner reinforces the international nature of the outrage, and adds to Russia’s diplomatic isolation. When the Soviet Union collapsed almost a quarter of a century ago, it was meant to be the end of Russian adventurism, if not the end of history. It was also supposed to be the end of Russian militarism and militant nationalism, the end of oppression and the end of economic stagnation. Instead, we find her invading neighbours, promulgating homophobic laws and allowing the economy to slide back towards a reliance on oil, gas and agriculture, hardly the make of a technologically advanced state.

Indeed, the fate of MH17 is gruesomely reminiscent of when the Russians shot down a Korean Airlines flight over their airspace in 1983. Through accident and through design, Vladimir Putin’s leadership of his nation is pushing it back towards Cold War conditions at home and abroad. Perhaps Mr Putin will stop playing his games now, and, if he can, tame the terrorists he has helped to create.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
 

Never underestimate the power of the National Trust

Boyd Tonkin
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss