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MH17
July 17, 2014 8:58 AM   Subscribe

According to Malaysia Airlines, they have lost contact with flight MH17, in Ukraine, near the Russian border. The plane is reported to have originated in Amsterdam, with 280 passengers and 15 crew members on board. Multiple news organizations are reporting that the plane was shot down in an area where "the Ukrainian government has been fighting pro-Russian rebels."
posted by helloknitty (1192 comments total) 69 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jesus. This is horrible. Hoping against hope for the passengers and crew...
posted by saturday_morning at 8:59 AM on July 17


.

oh my god
posted by zia at 8:59 AM on July 17


jfc. not just tragic, but scary foreboding. (and god, poor malaysia!)
posted by changeling at 9:00 AM on July 17


Holy shit.

Please no.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 9:01 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I was just about to FPP:
Malaysia Airlines 17 (MAS17) carrying over 250 passenger and crew was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpu when it went down soon after entering Ukrainian airspace. The plane disappeared from radar at a height of 10,000 metres after which it came down near the town of Shakhtyorsk. A Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser said the Buk missile was fired by separatists. Two days ago the Ukraine air-force "delivered an air strike" on this same town and reportedly a Su-25 assault aircraft was shot down by separatists. NY Post has updates feed. Live flight track from FlightAware.
posted by stbalbach at 9:02 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Huff Po has a breaking news feed (warning, twitter)

Some rebels deny involvement.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:02 AM on July 17


FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK

.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:02 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Holy shit.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:02 AM on July 17


That is awful. I hope it turns out to be ok somehow.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:02 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Live coverage on ABC News.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:03 AM on July 17


My third reaction after horror and wtf, Malaysia airlines must have pissed off their bomoh for this kind of terrible luck, is to wonder how long until the Russians in Malaysia get expelled and what on earth will happen politically internationally.
posted by viggorlijah at 9:03 AM on July 17


Not good. Putin is probably not happy about this. There will be a full investigation. Its probably all on multiple radar recordings too.

Some claims were a Russian jet shot it down. That would be really bad.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:04 AM on July 17


Layer on layer of catastrophe. The idea that it was shot down-- presumably deliberately, given its altitude-- disturbs and confuses me.

I am also surprised that commercial air traffic is still being routed over such a volatile area where planes have been shot down recently.
posted by underthehat at 9:04 AM on July 17 [10 favorites]


.
posted by yeoz at 9:04 AM on July 17


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posted by marimeko at 9:05 AM on July 17


Judging from the footage surfacing, there's no way there were any survivors.
posted by item at 9:06 AM on July 17


According to the NYPost link, the Malaysian Defense Minister tweeted this: "No comfirmation it was shot down! Our military have been instructed 2 get on it! “@Nessie43: @tenoq Ukr Gov report plane was shot down"
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:06 AM on July 17


Separatists claimed responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian plane this morning.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:07 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


If a passenger jet was seriously just shot down over Ukraine, then gird your loins -- shit is about to get real.
posted by eugenen at 9:07 AM on July 17 [6 favorites]


it's already real for everyone who was on that plane.
posted by elizardbits at 9:08 AM on July 17 [45 favorites]


Live updates going on here.
posted by inigo2 at 9:08 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Sick to my stomach.

.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:10 AM on July 17


I was actually in Malaysia about a month ago, and I was fascinated by local theories re: the disappeared flight -- rumor in Malaysia was that it had been the Americans (who'd stolen the plane, whatever). which of course, I'd never heard back home.

I can't imagine what this feels like for Malaysia right now, what it looks like. Is there any link between Malaysia and the Ukraine/Russia, or was the shooting an entirely random act of terrorism?

295 people. fuck.
posted by changeling at 9:11 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 9:12 AM on July 17


A Lusitania moment.
posted by underthehat at 9:12 AM on July 17 [12 favorites]


Just horrible. I've flown Amsterdam to KL on the way home to Oz before: transiting through Schiphol is more appealing than going via Heathrow. That passenger list will have lots of Brits, Aussies and Kiwis on it, as well as Malaysians heading home.
posted by rory at 9:12 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


No words.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:12 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


.


Both sides are accusing each other of shooting down the plane. This could get even uglier.
posted by Pendragon at 9:12 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


shit is about to get real

In what sense? Presumably this is just a ghastly cock-up by the troops responsible, no? I can't see any calculation in which Putin thinks "hey, I know what will be a big propaganda win for me and for Russia--I'll shoot down a planeload of citizens from a myriad of unrelated countries!" At first blush my only thought is that this will be such a huge black eye for the Russians--one that will absolutely firm up international support for Ukraine--that Putin will decide the game's not worth the candle.

Obviously that may just be wishful thinking. One never goes broke betting on humans to do the stupid, destructive thing.
posted by yoink at 9:13 AM on July 17 [14 favorites]


This is horrible, but it would be great to dial back the doomsday escalation rhetoric.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:13 AM on July 17 [16 favorites]


Separatists claimed responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian plane this morning.

That twitter account is GRU Colonel Igor Girkin (Strelkov), Putin's man in Eastern Ukraine.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:14 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Just last night US officials said
On July 14th, Ukrainians lost an An-26 transport jet, which was shot down from an altitude of 21,000 feet, with eight crew on board. And only very sophisticated weapons systems would be able to reach this height.
If this is understood to be done with advanced SAMs just given to these people by Russia, I could imagine some pretty serious repercussions. What is the breakdown of nationalities of those on board?
posted by crayz at 9:15 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


fuck
posted by angrycat at 9:17 AM on July 17


.
posted by Debaser626 at 9:17 AM on July 17


This is already a horrible tragedy. I really hope it isn't compounded by angry people with itchy trigger fingers.
posted by ambrosia at 9:17 AM on July 17


Out of 94 planes in Malaysian Airlines' fleet, only 12 are the Boeing 777-200ER. Both flight MH370 and MH17 were flights on that plane.

Does anyone have a more complete flight tracker? The FlightAware only has it barely entering Western Ukraine, this crash was all the way in Eastern Ukraine near the Russian border.
posted by JauntyFedora at 9:17 AM on July 17


The NY Daily News article says the plane was shot down near Donetsk, but the FlightAware track shows the last contact a good 1000 km away in far northwestern Ukraine, nowhere near Russia or any of the fighting. What's going on here?
posted by theodolite at 9:18 AM on July 17


A Lusitania moment.

You give them too much credit. This is a KAL007 moment.
posted by Talez at 9:18 AM on July 17 [21 favorites]


This is not good. This is Guns of August shit.

Who the hell did they think they were shooting at? There's no way the Ukranian seperatists would think it would be a good idea to shoot down a civilian airliner from an uninvolved party. Or an involved party, for that matter. Was it an inexperienced crew of Ukranians popping off the heavy stuff? Or was it a crew of Russian "advisors" fucking up? There's just no way this was an act of policy. But neither was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:18 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


If Obama gets pissed, he can declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. That would make it near impossible for Russia to engage in the world financial system.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:19 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Dutch media are saying there where at least 20 Dutch passengers on board.
posted by Pendragon at 9:19 AM on July 17


Also, recall this is not the first time something like this has happened. In the 80's, a Korean Air Lines plane was shot down by the Soviet Air Force, and an Iranian airliner was shot down by an American missle cruiser in the Persian Gulf.
posted by hwestiii at 9:19 AM on July 17 [20 favorites]


Does anyone have a more complete flight tracker?

FlightRadar24 is working on getting the data, but their site seems to be a bit slow right now

https://twitter.com/flightradar24
posted by slater at 9:20 AM on July 17


There's just no way this was an act of policy.

People have been saying this about Putin for months. And it turns out to be an act of policy every time.

US is saying that the Russians did deliberately shot down a Ukrainian aircraft on Monday--that is that the missile was fired from Russian territory.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:20 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


What is the breakdown of nationalities of those on board

It'll be a while, I imagine, before we get a list of passengers, but the flight was going from the Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur; one imagines it'd be a pretty diverse group.
posted by yoink at 9:20 AM on July 17


I can't believe this is anything but a fuck-up or a rogue person (is it possible for one person to launch a missile?). There is no benefit to this strategically for any of the involved groups, is there?
posted by sallybrown at 9:21 AM on July 17


Who the hell did they think they were shooting at? There's no way the Ukranian seperatists would think it would be a good idea to shoot down a civilian airliner from an uninvolved party.

The flight was delayed, maybe they thought it was a military plane.
posted by Pendragon at 9:21 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


This is tragic, but also weird in that these are two headline stories this year (Malaysia Airlines and Ukraine) combined into one. It's like parallel storylines that had nothing to do with each other just crossed over.
posted by FJT at 9:22 AM on July 17 [39 favorites]


US is saying that the Russians did deliberately shot down a Ukrainian aircraft on Monday--that is that the missile was fired from Russian territory.

I don't think anyone questions that shooting down Ukrainian military craft was a deliberate act. If you'd like to explain, though, what "policy" Putin would be pursuing in shooting down a non-Ukrainian civilian aircraft full of non-Ukrainian people, I'd be interested to hear your theory.
posted by yoink at 9:22 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


NOT THIS AGAIN
posted by divabat at 9:23 AM on July 17 [8 favorites]


Thanks slater, that answered my question. The actual last tracked location is more where I'd expect it to be.

Awful awful awful.
posted by theodolite at 9:24 AM on July 17


It's like parallel storylines that had nothing to do with each other just crossed over.

I was very thrown off by the OP on the blue until I realized that it wasn't MH370 they were talking about, which they apparently now thought had been shot down over Ukraine.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:25 AM on July 17 [6 favorites]


That's a pretty common route for flights going in and out of Europe from SEA. I've taken that flight before.

As far as I know Malaysia and Russia don't really have anything specific in terms of international relations.

Thank goddd my parents just returned from Europe gahhh
posted by divabat at 9:25 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


My guess is that it's a tragic mistake. It's terrifying that a commercial flight would be flying in the contested airspace over the Ukraine, though.
posted by malocchio at 9:25 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


US is saying that the Russians did deliberately shot down a Ukrainian aircraft on Monday--that is that the missile was fired from Russian territory.

I don't think anyone questions that shooting down Ukrainian military craft was a deliberate act. If you'd like to explain, though, what "policy" Putin would be pursuing in shooting down a non-Ukrainian civilian aircraft full of non-Ukrainian people, I'd be interested to hear your theory.


Yesterday, the United States put additional sectoral sanctions on Russia. Obama went to the press room and announced it. Putin may be saying I will mess with you anyway I can. Sorta a Russian version of the Nixon "madman" theory.

Putin has been grabbing for options for a while. He's been backed into a corner for weeks. This was not a well-planned set of moves by him. He's out of options.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:25 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


My guess is that it's a tragic mistake. It's terrifying that a commercial flight would be flying in the contested airspace over the Ukraine, though.

Looking at the flight tracking site, there were dozens in the air near there.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:26 AM on July 17


from the telegraph live feed >> 17.10 reuters correspondent on the scene in eastern ukraine sees burning wreckage of air plane, bodies on ground
posted by yeoz at 9:27 AM on July 17


The flight was delayed, maybe they thought it was a military plane.

A twin engine wide body? Are there any military planes that are even of that variety? I thought their wide bodied cargo planes were all quad engines.
posted by Talez at 9:27 AM on July 17


Looking at the flight tracking site, there were dozens in the air near there.

Yeah, it's probably more common than I would suspect.
posted by malocchio at 9:28 AM on July 17


Putin may be saying I will mess with you anyway I can.

"You" being Malaysia? Putin is confused about which country Obama is President of?

That makes no kind of sense, at all. All this does, if it is reliably traced back to the separatists of their Russian allies, is give Obama a massive propaganda victory. In particular, if there is any number of Germans citizens on board that plane Russia will have just blown up its relationship with its biggest defender in Europe.
posted by yoink at 9:30 AM on July 17 [16 favorites]


it's a tragic mistake.

A tragic mistake would be a bad decision made with good intentions. This is not one of those. It's a horrific, very stupid, easily avoidable mistake.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 9:30 AM on July 17 [27 favorites]


Shit's been real in Ukraine for some time.
Radio Free Europe: Interview: I Was A Separatist Fighter In Ukraine - "Artur Gasparyan, a 24-year-old native of Spitak, Armenia, was recruited in Moscow in May to fight in eastern Ukraine. Now back in the Russian capital, he spoke with Mumin Shakirov of RFE/RL's Russian Service (see original in Russian here) in detail about his experiences."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:31 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


My guess is that it's a tragic mistake. It's terrifying that a commercial flight would be flying in the contested airspace over the Ukraine, though.

Looking at the flight tracking site, there were dozens in the air near there.


If somebody with more knowledge about such things could explain this to me, I think I'm not the only one who would appreciate it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:31 AM on July 17


If it was an accidental firing, it may be that the missile locked on to the wrong aircraft.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:31 AM on July 17


A twin engine wide body?

You wouldn't know that from radar, though, would you?
posted by yoink at 9:31 AM on July 17


I'm kind of glad that I'm about to go into work for 8 hours. The next news-cycle is going to be exhausting. And terrifying.
posted by Fizz at 9:32 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


@olgatokariuk: Sky over Eastern #Ukraine was shut for civil aviation since July 8, but only for flights below 8000m altitude #MalaysianJet
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:34 AM on July 17 [7 favorites]


I have that Separatist Fighter article open but haven't had a chance to read it yet. I'm at work, so I can't really get into an in depth interview read right now, but could someone tell me what if anything it says about anti-aircraft fire/capabilities?
posted by maryr at 9:35 AM on July 17


My guess is that it's a tragic mistake. It's terrifying that a commercial flight would be flying in the contested airspace over the Ukraine, though.

The aircraft is at over 30,000 feet. Portable missile systems that you'd normally see in rebel fighting struggles to reach over 20,000 feet. That those rebels would be armed with military SAM equipment and use said equipment to shoot down civilian airliners probably didn't enter into anyone's mind in this case.
posted by Talez at 9:35 AM on July 17 [16 favorites]


.
posted by supermassive at 9:35 AM on July 17


Russia has been merrily giving the Eastern Ukranian equivalent of the Tea Party all manner of heavy weapons as a policy of screwing with Kiev. These are not the most intelligent or rational actors, and giving them advanced weapons systems, well - a monumental screw-up involving heavy loss of civilian life was only a matter of time.

This will probably push Europe closer to backing US sanctions on Russia until they disengage with the separatists and let Ukraine sort itself out.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:36 AM on July 17 [11 favorites]


A Lusitania moment.

You give them too much credit. This is a KAL007 moment.


Or, an Iran Air Flight 655 moment
posted by Flashman at 9:36 AM on July 17 [12 favorites]


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posted by shakespeherian at 9:36 AM on July 17


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posted by tonycpsu at 9:39 AM on July 17


Yeah - my first thought was the Iranian airliner in comparison, but...

So... Am I the only one who is slightly disturbed by the fact that earlier this year, Malaysia airlines also lost ANOTHER plane? And that one also had a 7 in it's flight number (that's just coincidence, I know, but...)

It just. Not that I have any opportunity to do so, soon, but hell if you'd catch me on a Malaysian Airlines plane in the year 2014.

This sucks. <3 to all the families
posted by symbioid at 9:39 AM on July 17


yoink: “All this does, if it is reliably traced back to the separatists of their Russian allies, is give Obama a massive propaganda victory. In particular, if there is any number of Germans citizens on board that plane Russia will have just blown up its relationship with its biggest defender in Europe.”

I'm not really sure that would give anybody a "propaganda victory." People in the US already (generally) agree with Obama's account of what has happened in Ukraine. People in Russia overwhelmingly believe that what has happened in Ukraine has been orchestrated entirely by secret US operatives smuggling arms, funding fascists, and indiscriminately killing people. This is believed by average people, even people who aren't huge fans of Vladimir Putin. It's not likely that anybody's going to get a "propaganda victory" over him any time soon.

I mean, Talez mentioned KAL007 above. In that case – where the USSR shot down a Korean airliner en route from the US to Seoul, killing all on board – the USSR just denied responsibility and in fact accused the United States of shooting the airliner down in order to provoke a war. Putin was stationed in Leningrad when that happened, but he surely remembers it. And he's proven quite adept at adapting the old propaganda techniques to new media.

I don't doubt that most Russians will believe this was a covert US operation.
posted by koeselitz at 9:39 AM on July 17 [13 favorites]


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posted by stoneweaver at 9:40 AM on July 17


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posted by lord_wolf at 9:41 AM on July 17


Doesn't look like we know what happened yet, so we don't know what to compare this to.
posted by spaltavian at 9:41 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


I don't doubt that most Russians will believe this was a covert US operation.

I imagine you're right. The "propaganda victory" I was talking about had absolutely nothing to do with what Russians believe.
posted by yoink at 9:42 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


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posted by drezdn at 9:42 AM on July 17


yoink: “A twin engine wide body?

You wouldn't know that from radar, though, would you?”
The transponder code should identify as a civilian aircraft though, no?
posted by ob1quixote at 9:42 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I'd be cool with laying off of the speculation about what this might mean for the Russia-Ukraine confrontation until a lot more was known about this.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:43 AM on July 17 [9 favorites]


It's terrifying that a commercial flight would be flying in the contested airspace over the Ukraine, though.

Yeah, but it was at an altitude of over 30,000 feet. Not a whole lot that can hit you from the ground at that altitude. Civilian transponders also all have certain bits programmed into them that show up on military radar as essentially "I AM A CIVILIAN DON'T SHOOT ME".

A twin engine wide body?

You wouldn't know that from radar, though, would you?

No, you wouldn't. You could look out the window and figure it out, though, I suspect.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:44 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Civilian transponders also all have certain bits programmed into them that show up on military radar as essentially "I AM A CIVILIAN DON'T SHOOT ME".

Is there any history of military aircraft spoofing this?
posted by acb at 9:44 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Screenshot of plane track on FlightRadar24. Twitter search in general is going to have the most up-to-date rumors. Lots of photos too, including some of wreckage and some of bodies.

The Buk missile system that some rumors are saying is responsible for the shootdown can easily hit a target at 30,000'. It's a serious anti-air missile defense system designed for hitting airplanes like this.

A lot of folks have been quick to point fingers at Russian separatists, and that certainly seems the most likely explanation. The complex question is to what extent Russia itself will be held accountable.
posted by Nelson at 9:45 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


The transponder code should identify as a civilian aircraft though, no?

Would whoever fired the SAM have had the tech to reliably match transponder codes with a blip on their radar? That's not a rhetorical question, by the way, I just don't know how that works.
posted by yoink at 9:45 AM on July 17


All those people. All their families. Damn.
posted by harujion at 9:45 AM on July 17 [7 favorites]


[NSFW] Live feed of Russian channel LifeNews reporting, showing still pictures of the wreckage (and bodies) [NSFW]
posted by Kabanos at 9:45 AM on July 17


Not a whole lot that can hit you from the ground at that altitude.

Any cold-war era SAM can do this. The only thing that would have trouble are shoulder-launched weapons.
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:46 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


symbiod: Malaysia Airlines is usually pretty safe and is actually a pretty good airline. Before this mess of a year the last time anything happened to them was 20-30 years ago when an unknown group hijacked a local plane.

They are not responsible for a random military missile attacking them on a common route. Please don't pin this on them.
posted by divabat at 9:46 AM on July 17 [31 favorites]


Another tweet from Russian insurgents in Ukraine claiming they thought they shot down a Ukraine military jet.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:46 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


.
posted by suelac at 9:46 AM on July 17


You could look out the window and figure it out, though, I suspect.

You're assuming it was shot down by a fighter plane? That seems the least likely option to me, but I guess it's not impossible.
posted by yoink at 9:46 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Twitter search in general is going to have the most up-to-date rumors.

RUMORS. I mean, yes, you'll get the most up-to-date info, but a LOT of it will be untrue, misguided, or flat out lies.
posted by maryr at 9:47 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Is there any history of military aircraft spoofing this?

Not that I'm aware of. Military transponders are usually encrypted, so I think (not an expert here, just work alongside them) that they would either not show up on secondary radar or show up as "unidentified". Primary radar would still tag them.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:47 AM on July 17


You're assuming it was shot down by a fighter plane?

No, I mean if the plane was at 30,000 feet directly above you, it's not hard to look out a window and see if has two engines or four. It's pretty easy to spot, even from that distance.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:48 AM on July 17


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posted by Small Dollar at 9:49 AM on July 17


I wonder if there were any "important people" on that flight?
posted by symbioid at 9:50 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


I don't doubt that most Russians will believe this was a covert US operation.

In the same manner that many Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, had WMDs, etc, etc...

255 more civilians murdered by shitbird politicians.
posted by Pudhoho at 9:51 AM on July 17 [10 favorites]


Donetsk separatist boss Strelkov, Kremlin’s proxy in war, says he ordered shootdown thinking plane was Ukrainian pic.twitter.com/uaWKVlsA7q— Strobe Talbott (@strobetalbott) July 17, 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 9:51 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Would whoever fired the SAM have had the tech to reliably match transponder codes with a blip on their radar? That's not a rhetorical question, by the way, I just don't know how that works.

All military radars have some form of IFF (identification, friend or foe) system otherwise they could be targeting their own planes during sorties and nobody wants that to happen. If someone disregards that "hey I'm a civilian airline flight" they do so at their peril.
posted by Talez at 9:52 AM on July 17


RUMORS.

Yup. But right now Metafilter seems delighted to do nothing but discuss rumors so, well, here we are. Twitter is full of interesting primary news sources, possible claims of responsibility, not to mention creepy Russian separatist propaganda.
posted by Nelson at 9:52 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


No, I mean if the plane was at 30,000 feet directly above you, it's not hard to look out a window and see if has two engines or four. It's pretty easy to spot, even from that distance.

It looks pretty cloudy in the shots showing the crashed plane.
posted by yoink at 9:53 AM on July 17


Tagesschau's correspondent in Moscow just said that one of the separatist commanders had taken to social media about when the flight was shot down, claiming that they'd shot down a Ukrainian Antonov in that area.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:53 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


My current job (article is not me, also not my ship) deals almost exclusively with air defense, and we get extensive training on how not to shoot down airliners. Most of it deals with "kinetics" - how fast, high, and what direction aircraft are flying, as well as any changes in those measurements.

This is all speculation, but I see nothing in the data from FlightAware that would indicate that that particular radar/transponder return was a threat. Constant airspeed, altitude, and heading. Assuming that it was shot down, the only conclusion I can draw is that either there was operator error of the most pervasive and systemic kind, or there was a calculated effort to shoot down a target flying overhead - and to what end, I have no idea.

(on preview: The only things that US military radar sees are Mode 1, 2, 3/C, and 4 transponders. Civilian aircraft use Mode 3/C and Mode S, but so do military aircraft. There are no special "I'm a civilian, don't shoot me" modes.)
posted by squorch at 9:54 AM on July 17 [54 favorites]


I should note that I have no idea what the Cyrillic text says. The video attached does appear to be the same footage circulating as of the MH17 crash. The whole thing could be faked, of course.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:54 AM on July 17


wait isn't it crazy that the separatists would have such sophisticated SAMs? I mean, if anybody thought that was going on, there wouldn't be commercial flights over the contested areas in Ukraine at all, right?
posted by angrycat at 9:55 AM on July 17


Tagesschau's correspondent in Moscow just said that one of the separatist commanders had taken to Twitter about when the flight was shot down, claiming that they'd shot down a Ukrainian Antonov in that area.

If these twitter claims bear out, they would seem pretty definitively damning.
posted by yoink at 9:56 AM on July 17


There are no special "I'm a civilian, don't shoot me" modes

Huh--you'd think someone would want to get on that. Then again, the military would immediately start spoofing them, so I suppose it's one of those "why bother" situations.
posted by yoink at 9:57 AM on July 17


How stupid do you have to be to not be able to tell the difference between a Malaysian flight and a Ukrainian Antonov?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:57 AM on July 17


I mean, if anybody thought that was going on, there wouldn't be commercial flights over the contested areas in Ukraine at all, right?

There are sophisticated air defense systems all over the world - to put it another way, no one is ending flights into Tel Aviv, Pyongyang, Tehran, etc. etc. Aircraft flying on constant headings and altitudes on commercial air routes are not viewed as threats by rational actors. Or even non-rational actors.
posted by squorch at 9:58 AM on July 17 [5 favorites]


The Guardian live feed.
posted by seyirci at 9:58 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Malaysia Airlines just linked to their media statement but their website is defaulting to their lite version.
posted by divabat at 9:58 AM on July 17


Does anybody have links to the actual claim? I'm only finding screenshots
posted by I-baLL at 9:59 AM on July 17


(Guardian live feed autoplayed ads at me, heads up.)
posted by maryr at 9:59 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


wait isn't it crazy that the separatists would have such sophisticated SAMs?

Either they 1) nabbed them when some former-Ukrainian military units went over or 2) it came from Russia.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:59 AM on July 17


How stupid do you have to be to not be able to tell the difference between a Malaysian flight and a Ukrainian Antonov?

Careless, poorly trained, and trigger happy seem a lot more relevant than intelligence.
posted by maryr at 10:00 AM on July 17 [6 favorites]


So apparently the FAA warned US airlines not to fly in that region in April, for reasons including the likelihood of misidentification. (Possibly someone who speaks aviation can interpret the parameters of the advisory area.)

Obviously lots of other countries continued to do so. I don't know if the FAA is regarded as prone to drama or if it's just prohibitively expensive to change routes wholesale so the other countries continued to take their chances?
posted by Lyn Never at 10:00 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


The reddit /r/UkrainianConflict Live Thread is a good source for up to the minute relevant tweets.

The Interpreter blog is also an excellent source on the conflict in Ukraine. It's a bit slower in posting updates, but offers more analysis.
posted by Kabanos at 10:00 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


wait isn't it crazy that the separatists would have such sophisticated SAMs?

Think of them as Second Amendment laser pointers.
posted by localroger at 10:00 AM on July 17 [8 favorites]


> How stupid do you have to be to not be able to tell the difference between a Malaysian flight and a Ukrainian Antonov?

Speaking as somebody who can't distinguish between planes when I'm inside them, I'm not sure I'd be able to do a better job from 30,000 meters away, telemetry or no.
posted by ardgedee at 10:01 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Huh--you'd think someone would want to get on that. Then again, the military would immediately start spoofing them, so I suppose it's one of those "why bother" situations.

The military spends billions on making radar cross sections close to negligible. The last thing they're going to do is squawk back with a giant radio pulse saying "I'M A COMMERCIAL AIRLINER EVEN THOUGH I HAVE A RADAR CROSS SECTION THE SIZE OF A MARBLE!"
posted by Talez at 10:01 AM on July 17 [9 favorites]


More precise maps here show (scroll to 17.32) it went down into a populated neighborhood, so there are likely casualties on the ground as well. Those photos of smoke in a rural landscape are probably taken from the west where there is a more rural area.
posted by beagle at 10:02 AM on July 17


Reports 23 US citizens aboard.
posted by Kabanos at 10:02 AM on July 17


How stupid do you have to be to not be able to tell the difference between a Malaysian flight and a Ukrainian Antonov?

I don't know: how stupid do you have to be? We seem to be getting some rather conflicting "authoritative" claims in this thread with respect to that question. Assuming you're a bunch of under-trained separatists who've been given a high-tech SAM system capable of shooting this plane down, just how stupid do you have to be to mistake this plane for a Ukrainian military plane? Assuming it's overcast and you don't actually have a visual on the plane, what will your radar system be telling you that should lead you to rule out the Antonov and be sure that this is a civilian airliner?

(It's also worth noting that there have been multiple cases of trained military accidentally shooting down civilian craft in the past, so it's clearly not something that requires heroic or unprecedented levels of stupidity to do.)
posted by yoink at 10:02 AM on July 17 [5 favorites]


squorch: “The only things that US military radar sees are Mode 1, 2, 3/C, and 4 transponders. Civilian aircraft use Mode 3/C and Mode S, but so do military aircraft. There are no special "I'm a civilian, don't shoot me" modes.”
yoink: “Huh--you'd think someone would want to get on that. Then again, the military would immediately start spoofing them, so I suppose it's one of those "why bother" situations.”
Mode S responds with a callsign though, doesn't it? You'd think that would at least give you pause.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:03 AM on July 17


The aircraft is at over 30,000 feet. Portable missile systems that you'd normally see in rebel fighting struggles to reach over 20,000 feet.

BUK systems can easily target >50,000 feet. I think it was already known that the separatists were in possession of these?
posted by malocchio at 10:03 AM on July 17


It looks to me like that warning back in April covered the Crimean Peninsula. Today's incident was a couple hundred miles northeast of that.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:04 AM on July 17


Mode S responds with a callsign though, doesn't it? You'd think that would at least give you pause.

Hand-me-down soviet hardware usually doesn't have the latest in Western advances. But you don't shoot mode 3 transponders flying straight and level at airliner flight levels. That's just straight ignant.
posted by Talez at 10:04 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


“Donetsk People’s Republic militia downs another Ukraine’s An-26 plane — eyewitnesses,” ITAR-TASS, 17 July 2014 20:01 UTC +4
posted by ob1quixote at 10:05 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Given it is a area with, err, "kinetic action" - someone has radar/location data. But who's gonna share the honest data with us - the ugly public?

shit is about to get real.

Plenty of reasons to just paper over the event as a 'poor maintenance' or 'pilot error'.
Such papering over has been done before - why is THIS time gonna be magical get real time?

I'd never heard back home

All depends on what media market one is in and one opts to use as a media source. Plenty of Internet places made such a claim and Ol'e Alex Jones I'd wager had made such claim on his radio show.

The internet just allows you to exist in a media bubble that self-reinforces your own worldview.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:05 AM on July 17


The Ukranian Air Defence Forces accidentally shot down a commercial airliner in 2001. Makes it easier for peole to point fingers at the Ukraine, legitimally or not.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:05 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


The military spends billions on making radar cross sections close to negligible. The last thing they're going to do is squawk back with a giant radio pulse saying "I'M A COMMERCIAL AIRLINER EVEN THOUGH I HAVE A RADAR CROSS SECTION THE SIZE OF A MARBLE!"

No, I wasn't suggesting they'd spoof them on their stealth planes. The military flies plenty of planes which have no stealth capability at all.
posted by yoink at 10:05 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


(It's also worth noting that there have been multiple cases of trained military accidentally shooting down civilian craft in the past, so it's clearly not something that requires heroic or unprecedented levels of stupidity to do.)
The real question is how plausible the deniability is.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:05 AM on July 17


Does anybody have links to the actual claim? I'm only finding screenshots

The Donetsk People's Republic twitter account has started erasing their tweets.
posted by Kabanos at 10:06 AM on July 17 [9 favorites]


.

My neighbor was on KAL007 and it still haunts me, to the point where I was googling her orphaned son the other day to see where life has taken him. That moment really felt like we tipped closer to nuclear war with USSR, it was terrifying to teenage me. And the conspiracy theories that followed afterwards, some which turned out to be true, sickening. I really don't want to got through this again.
posted by saffry at 10:06 AM on July 17 [11 favorites]


If they want to shoot down a military transport plane then shooting at something straight and level at 30k feet seems plausible. They could have sought to shoot down something even if it wasn't directly attacking them, and just disregarded the risk that it was a commercial flight.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:10 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


“Shadowy Rebel Wields Iron Fist in Ukraine Fight,” Noah Sneider, The New York Times, 10 July 2014
A former intelligence agent, Mr. Strelkov fought in the post-Soviet conflicts in Transnistria, Serbia and Chechnya. Yet his ideological rigidity precedes any connections he has to Russia’s security services, stretching back at least to his days at the Moscow State Institute for History and Archives. There, Mr. Strelkov obsessed over military history and joined a small but vocal group of students who advocated a return to monarchism.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:11 AM on July 17


And John McCain is saber rattling hard. What is wrong with that son of a bitch?
posted by zzazazz at 10:12 AM on July 17 [16 favorites]


My guess is that it's a tragic mistake. It's terrifying that a commercial flight would be flying in the contested airspace over the Ukraine, though.
posted by malocchio at 9:25 AM on July 17
[1 favorite +] [!]


Anyone engaged in war understands and has already tacitly accepted that a number of non-combatants and uninvolved third parties will be killed in the process. To call this a mistake is to mischaracterize the very nature of war.
posted by newdaddy at 10:13 AM on July 17 [6 favorites]


From what I've read, Putin was pretty quick to inform Obama of the incident. To me, this sounds like the actions of someone who clearly doesn't want this kind of situation on his plate.
posted by popcassady at 10:15 AM on July 17


A friend of mine points out that a whole lot of NATO interests are watching Ukrainian airspace very closely. It seems likely that US military and intelligence already knows the origin of the missile, if not the exact type.

One early debate taking place on Twitter is whether the separatists are in possession of sophisticated anti-air missiles and if so, where they came from. Some claims that Russia recently provided the separatists with a Buk system. Some counterclaims that Russian media is reporting separatists already "captured" a Buk system from somewhere and Russia itself didn't provide it.

Assuming the shootdown was a separatist action, I expect the main debate will be to what extent Russia itself is held responsible for the tragedy. The world survived KAL007 and Iran Air 655 without going to World War III, hopefully we'll get through this crisis too.
posted by Nelson at 10:16 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


In before the "let's get satellites to see if there are SAMs there" calls: Most Russian doctrine calls for "shoot and scoot."
posted by squorch at 10:17 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


And John McCain is saber rattling hard. What is wrong with that son of a bitch?

It is his brand and he gets that there will be a spike in donations to his campaign funds.

There is money to be made in war along with consolidation of political power.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:19 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


To call this a mistake is to mischaracterize the very nature of war.

Fine, call it collateral damage if it makes you happy. I just don't see what the separatists have to gain by shooting down a planeful of civilians, so I find it unlikely that it was an intentional target.
posted by malocchio at 10:19 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Not this again.

.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:19 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I don't get it, what was an airliner doing within hundreds of miles of Ukraine? Especially that boarder? Saving a little fuel? I'm pretty oblivious and still knew there were rocket launchers in that area used by nutcases.
posted by sammyo at 10:20 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Two hundred and ninety-five souls.
posted by cmyk at 10:21 AM on July 17 [12 favorites]


Ukraine Accuses Russia of Shooting Down Fighter Jet. This is a separate incident, an SU-25 fighter jet several hours before MH17 went down. The Ukrainian government says "the bombardment probably came from air-to-air missiles fired by a pair of Russian Armed Forces aircraft patrolling the border in a certain area." It's a very strong accusation, troubling it comes right before a civilian aircraft got shot down.
posted by Nelson at 10:21 AM on July 17


Too early to say what's happened, so I'll just leave this here:

.
posted by ob at 10:21 AM on July 17


In before the "let's get satellites to see if there are SAMs there" calls: Most Russian doctrine calls for "shoot and scoot."

I'm sure they were already there. When the Argentinian Air Force hit the Sheffield in the Falklands War, US satellites had photos of the missile in flight.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:21 AM on July 17


.
posted by fremen at 10:23 AM on July 17


sammoyo: that's a pretty common route for Europe<>SEA.
posted by divabat at 10:24 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Anyone engaged in war understands and has already tacitly accepted that a number of non-combatants and uninvolved third parties will be killed in the process. To call this a mistake is to mischaracterize the very nature of war.

No, to call this impossible or unthinkable or maybe even unexpected would be to mischaracterize the nature of war. The reason noncombatants are killed in war is exactly because mistakes get made by people who are using lethal force in stressful situations.


“Donetsk People’s Republic militia downs another Ukraine’s An-26 plane — eyewitnesses,” ITAR-TASS, 17 July 2014 20:01 UTC +4

Look at this link, before it hits the memory hole. The Russian separatists are claiming responsibility for shooting down a large transport aircraft, in the date, time and place that a similar large civilian passenger transport aircraft was shot down.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:25 AM on July 17 [9 favorites]


One early debate taking place on Twitter is whether the separatists are in possession of sophisticated anti-air missiles

Tweet claiming a BUK seen today in separatist-occupied Snezhnoe.
posted by Kabanos at 10:27 AM on July 17


The reason noncombatants are killed in war is exactly because mistakes get made by people who are using lethal force in stressful situations.

Let us not forget the sociopaths who enjoy killing/destruction and find war provides them a more socially acceptable outlet.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:28 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


.
posted by hazyjane at 10:28 AM on July 17


Julia Ioffe (who's generally been a must-follow on the Ukrainian crisis) on the shootdown.
posted by COBRA! at 10:29 AM on July 17 [6 favorites]


“Both sides in Ukraine deny shooting down Malaysian plane,” Peter Leonard, The Associated Press via Stars and Stripes, 17 July 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 10:30 AM on July 17


Ukraine's Foreign Ministry: "Ukraine will present the evidence of Russian military involvement into the Boeing crash."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:31 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


In the 80's, a Korean Air Lines plane was shot down by the Soviet Air Force, and an Iranian airliner was shot down by an American missle cruiser in the Persian Gulf.

play with dangerous toys and people get hurt, regardless of intentions. Fuck War.
posted by philip-random at 10:31 AM on July 17


I've seen multiple reports now that places the number of Americans on board at 23.
posted by helloknitty at 10:32 AM on July 17


Kabanos: "One early debate taking place on Twitter is whether the separatists are in possession of sophisticated anti-air missiles

Tweet claiming a BUK seen today in separatist-occupied Snezhnoe.
"

Further, a post from DNR about a Buk they captured(?) has since been deleted.
posted by specialagentwebb at 10:33 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


ITAR-TASS report from June 29, 2014, saying rebels have Buk missiles.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:34 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Current commercial traffic in the area.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:35 AM on July 17


backseatpilot: "Civilian transponders also all have certain bits programmed into them that show up on military radar as essentially 'I AM A CIVILIAN DON'T SHOOT ME'."

acb: “Is there any history of military aircraft spoofing this?”

backseatpilot: “Not that I'm aware of. Military transponders are usually encrypted, so I think (not an expert here, just work alongside them) that they would either not show up on secondary radar or show up as 'unidentified'. Primary radar would still tag them.”

There is, at least, apparently a history of military types jumping to the paranoid conclusion that a foreign military is faking commercial jetliner flights in order to engage in spying. From the Russian pilot's account of shooting down KAL007, quoted on the wiki page:
"I saw two rows of windows and knew that this was a Boeing. I knew this was a civilian plane. But for me this meant nothing. It is easy to turn a civilian type of plane into one for military use..."
If the tweets "claiming responsibility" are any indication, I would think it possible for freaked-out separatists to tell themselves the same thing. But – I know little about this sort of thing, of course, and it doesn't sound like there's much information yet anyhow.
posted by koeselitz at 10:35 AM on July 17


“The Crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 Is a Game Changer,” Julia Ioffe, The New Republic, 17 July 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 10:36 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


From the Telegraph's live update:

18.27 Our Brussels correspondent, Bruno Waterfield, has just sent across the official Ukrainian response to the crash.

You can read it here:

A large passenger aircraft Boeing 777, performing a flight between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur, was shot down in the eastern part of Ukraine. According to the General Staff of Ukrainian Armed Forces, the airplane was shot down by the Russian Buk missile system as the liner was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters.

Ukraine has no long-range air defence missile systems in this area.
The plane was shot down, because the Russian air defence systems was affording protection to Russian mercenaries and terrorists in this area.

Ukraine will present the evidence of Russian military involvement into the Boeing crash.

The leader of the terrorists Igor Girkin (Strelkov) immediately commented on the airplane catastrophe, believing that it was the Ukrainian jet that crashed down: “In Torez An-26 was shot down, its crashes are lying somewhere near the coal mine “Progress”. We have warned everyone: do not fly in our skies.”

posted by mudpuppie at 10:36 AM on July 17


I've seen multiple reports now that places the number of Americans on board at 23.

@Reuters: #BREAKING: Number of dead from crash of #MH17 more than 300, includes 23 U.S. citizen: Interior Ministry adviser, quoted by Interfax
posted by bowmaniac at 10:37 AM on July 17


> Look at this link, before it hits the memory hole.

Now saved at the Wayback Machine.
posted by stbalbach at 10:37 AM on July 17 [5 favorites]


This is also from the Telegraph link above:

A key question now is whether the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have access to the kind of missile systems that could reach a plane flying at high altitude.

The separatists have denied having any such systems. But the Associated Press is reporting that one of its journalists saw a launcher that resembled a Russian BUK system - the kind the Ukrainian goverment says carried out the strike - near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier today. The Russian network TV Zvezda, the news network for the Russian military, did report that a Buk fell to separatist hands on June 29th.

posted by malocchio at 10:38 AM on July 17


.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:38 AM on July 17


[Let's not, with the black humor. It doesn't come across the internet successfully. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 10:43 AM on July 17 [10 favorites]


Ioffe: "[Putin] will likely do something to punish the rebels after the spotlight moves on to the next global crisis."

I'm predicting Strelkov's time will be up very shortly, to be replaced by a more professional Green Man.
posted by Kabanos at 10:44 AM on July 17


The New York Times has an article up, with some interesting phone interviews and coverage. Also, this odd detail:
Russian missile systems are named for trees.
posted by koeselitz at 10:45 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


"I can't at this point in time" confirm that US citizens were on board MH-17, says @statedeptspox— Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) July 17, 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 10:46 AM on July 17


Kabanos: What does Green Man mean in this context?

(I don't even know where to begin to Google, sorry.)
posted by seyirci at 10:47 AM on July 17


The leader of the terrorists Igor Girkin (Strelkov)
posted by inigo2 at 10:49 AM on July 17


Someone on MSNBC saying the hot seat is Putin's right now. He is in real hot water. EU will now move towards Obama's stronger position on sanctions.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:49 AM on July 17


What does Green Man mean in this context?

(I don't even know where to begin to Google, sorry.)


According to Wikipedia:
"Green men" is a news media term for men wearing balaclavas and military uniforms without insignia involved in the 2014 pro-Russian conflict in Ukraine.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:49 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


.

Those poor people! RIP...

Somehow, some way, I hope this results in huge blowback for Putin, who has helped to keep the violence in Ukraine alive with his immoral support of the rebels. The Russian and Ukranian people deserve better than a sociopath like Putin.
posted by Vibrissae at 10:51 AM on July 17 [5 favorites]


“Is there any history of military aircraft spoofing this?”

That would be a war crime, similar to soldiers fighting while wearing civilian clothing.

...which has been known to happen, of course.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:52 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Green Men was the term applied to the Russian troops who occupied Crimea, because they wore no insignia and wouldn't say where they were from. Locals joked that they must be aliens.

Or what EOI said.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:52 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth: “Someone on MSNBC saying the hot seat is Putin's right now. He is in real hot water. EU will now move towards Obama's stronger position on sanctions.”

We have no idea how this will pan out. Also, "Someone on MSNBC saying..." has about the same ring now as "Someone on the subway saying..." or "Someone scribbled on a bathroom wall..." MSNBC has no authority, and if we want to keep away from ridiculous rumors and half-baked theories, we should probably turn them off and ignore them.
posted by koeselitz at 10:53 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


Little Green Men is used more often, I suppose. Apparently Putin doesn't like the term.
posted by Kabanos at 10:53 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Assoc. Press: A launcher similar to the Buk missile system was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:54 AM on July 17


This is very, very strange. I don't know how there is so much seeming certainty by some parties regarding this, almost immediately after the crash.

I am withholding any conclusions until a lot more information comes in.
posted by cell divide at 10:55 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth: “Someone on MSNBC saying the hot seat is Putin's right now. He is in real hot water. EU will now move towards Obama's stronger position on sanctions.”

We have no idea how this will pan out. Also, "Someone on MSNBC saying..." has about the same ring now as "Someone on the subway saying..." or "Someone scribbled on a bathroom wall..." MSNBC has no authority, and if we want to keep away from ridiculous rumors and half-baked theories, we should probably turn them off and ignore them.


Its not a half baked theory. ITAR-TASS indicated the rebels had the weapon. The Rebels announced shooting down a plane they thought was a Ukrainian aircraft. The rebels are now scrubbing their sites and tweets. You can say we don't have confirmation, but we have more information about the loss of this plane right now than we did with MH 380 weeks into it. We do have facts. Let's acknowledge that.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:57 AM on July 17 [10 favorites]


There is, at least, apparently a history of military types jumping to the paranoid conclusion that a foreign military is faking commercial jetliner flights in order to engage in spying.

Yea, paranoia. There has never been civilian transports used as cover for a military operation.

Remember the Lusitania!

(Read the following in the fast disclaimer voice used at end of advertising: Links to scholarship offers for tweets/facebook posts, the various government contracts for software to manage sockpuppets and other Snowden-centric releases not included in this post. Deceptive value of events may vary and depend on road conditions and surfing habits. )
posted by rough ashlar at 10:58 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Not to Occam's razor this to death, but the separatists have no aircraft. There's zero motivation for the Ukrainian military to shoot anything down. The separatists, conversely, have shot down several Ukrainian aircraft at high altitudes recently.
posted by Behemoth at 10:59 AM on July 17 [11 favorites]


“The Crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 Is a Game Changer,” Julia Ioffe, The New Republic, 17 July 2014

An vacuous little article which goes on to conclude that this doesn't really change much after all :/.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 11:00 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


Black box was apparently found. Popular Ukrainian journalist/talk-show host Shuster tweets that the "terrorists will give it to Moscow".
posted by Kabanos at 11:00 AM on July 17


I don't want to be debbie downer on the speculation on the EU joining the US on increased sanctions but everyone does remember Europe's near total reliance on Russia's natural gas right? This would be like the US responding to a Saudi financed and led terrorist attack with sanctions on Saudi Arabia rather than two wars elsewhere.

If the EU joins the US in sanctions then they will be shooting their own already struggling economies in the foot (or maybe the abdomen).
posted by srboisvert at 11:01 AM on July 17 [7 favorites]


Its not a half baked theory.

Sorry, but any theory that begins with the preamble "Someone on MSNBC (or FoxNews, or CNN, etc.) saying..." is by its very nature less-than-fully baked.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:01 AM on July 17 [8 favorites]


Sky News (yeah, I know) tweets: "Sky Sources: #MH17 flight was in a restricted area unsuitable for civilian aircraft"

It will be interesting to see if other sources can back that up.
posted by malocchio at 11:02 AM on July 17


Well, I mean, if the FAA recommended against US flights there, I guess you could say that. But "restricted" by who? The Separatists? Weren't there other flights nearby at the time?
posted by maryr at 11:03 AM on July 17


"Many of the bodies were still in their seat belts and still attached to pieces of the plane." NYTimes' Sabrina Tavernise tweeting from the site of the crash. @stavernise #MH17
posted by newdaddy at 11:04 AM on July 17


UK has called for an emergency session of the UN security Council. Hope it won't be closed door.
posted by Kabanos at 11:04 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I don't want to be debbie downer on the speculation on the EU joining the US on increased sanctions but everyone does remember Europe's near total reliance on Russia's natural gas right?

Not so much anymore.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:05 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


We do have facts. Let's acknowledge that.

Not really. It's very hard in the moment to tell verifiable fact from likely fact to plausible theory to outright rumor to talking head bullshit on cable TV. I was even suspicious of the specific flight track I posted way up above until FlightRadar24 themselves tweeted it. (There's another flight track from FlightAware that terminates much earlier, on the western border of Ukraine, but then FlightAware traditionally has less data than FlightRadar24 for international flights.)

The important thing isn't what you think you know. It's how you know it. Properly sourcing facts takes time and reporting.
posted by Nelson at 11:06 AM on July 17 [5 favorites]


Its not a half baked theory.

Sorry, but any theory that begins with the preamble "Someone on MSNBC (or FoxNews, or CNN, etc.) saying..." is by its very nature less-than-fully baked.
'

OK, facts we know:

ITAR-TASS reported Donetsk Republic had the Buk. See my link above.

The rebels had shot down multiple aircraft in the area over the last few weeks. Ukraine has no need for these missiles because the Donetsk Republic has no aircraft at all.

The rebel's leader Strelkov, claimed he ordered a shoot down of an AN-26 this morning, almost at the exact time the shoot down happened.

Any evidence pointing to anything else out there?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:07 AM on July 17 [17 favorites]


I'm on a plane flying from JFK-SFO right now, and reading this thread, I completely understand why airlines don't show movies featuring plane crashes. It's amazing how much we take the basic safety of our skies (and roads) for granted.
posted by zachlipton at 11:07 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


This is very, very strange. I don't know how there is so much seeming certainty by some parties regarding this, almost immediately after the crash.

I think it is because Russia has shot down several Ukrainian aircraft recently in this exact area, and they initially took credit for it on twitter before realizing it was a civilian airliner and subsequently deleting their tweets. I'm not aware of Ukraine having shot down any Russian, or "Russian separatist," airplanes. But a Ukrainian missile should still be considered a less likely possibility until a full investigation is complete, imo.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:08 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Tagesschau just showed, among other things, someone holding a rather large number of maroon passports that apparently came from the crash site. I think the EU is pretty much obligated to react here.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:08 AM on July 17


Surreal: First result in Google search shows the flight times and estimated arrival time. It looks for all the world like the plane is suspended in time.
posted by mochapickle at 11:08 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I'm on a plane flying from JFK-SFO right now, and reading this thread, I completely understand why airlines don't show movies featuring plane crashes. It's amazing how much we take the basic safety of our skies (and roads) for granted.

Last flight I was on, they were showing Gravity. Just to put things in perspective, I guess?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:09 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Golden Eternity - Separatists took credit, not Russia. How Russian backed they are we don't know yet, but Russia has made no such claims.
posted by maryr at 11:10 AM on July 17


Omdtlp: Malaysian passports are red - not quite maroon but could be seen as such in wreckage.
posted by divabat at 11:12 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


rt.com: The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, which controls the area around the crash site, says that it will pass the flight recorders of the downed plane to Russian authorities. “In Moscow, they have high-class experts, and they will be able to determine the cause of the crash, though it seems obvious enough anyway,” said vice-premier Andrey Purgin.

"Obvious enough"?
posted by shortfuse at 11:13 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Ukraine has no need for these missiles because the Donetsk Republic has no aircraft at all.

That's pure speculation, not "fact". I also think it's wrong. I believe Ukraine certainly does own Buk AA missiles as part of their defenses. And just 5 hours ago the Ukrainians claim Russian jets shot down a Ukrainian fighter jet, in Ukrainian airspace. You better bet they have an interest in AA defenses.

The rebel's leader Strelkov, claimed he ordered a shoot down of an AN-26 this morning

I want to see more reporting on this before I accept it as fact. It seems likely, but I am looking forward to Russian and Ukrainian speaking knowledgable reporters giving details on it.
posted by Nelson at 11:16 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Any evidence pointing to anything else out there?

Ironmouth, this was your original comment:

"Someone on MSNBC saying the hot seat is Putin's right now. He is in real hot water. EU will now move towards Obama's stronger position on sanctions.”

The "half-baked theory" that we're discussing refers to the bolded part of that statement—speculation about future political repercussions—and not whatever facts we might have gathered about the incident itself.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:18 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Golden Eternity - Separatists took credit, not Russia. How Russian backed they are we don't know yet, but Russia has made no such claims.

Does anyone actually believe the separatists aren't backed by Russia? I ask somewhat incredulously, but then, I have never heard anyone but Russia (and Russia-sympathetic Ukranians) make this claim. It seems too obvious to dispute. If they shot the airliner, it seems likely to be a mistake and not Putin's direct order (unless he's lost his mind), but that doesn't mean he didn't send them over/support them in the first place.
posted by emjaybee at 11:19 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


So far it sounds like Malaysian, Dutch, American, and French passengers. I've seen reports of up to 80 children on the plane.
posted by Kabanos at 11:19 AM on July 17


A neutral third-party (ICAO? The Siwss?) need to step up and take custody of the flight recorders and other evidence immediately. I know ICAO was involved in the KAL 007 investigation given the enormous political problems involved with no party trusting each other to investigate the incident.
posted by zachlipton at 11:20 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Ugh. Children. So sad.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:21 AM on July 17


Golden Eternity - Separatists took credit, not Russia. How Russian backed they are we don't know yet, but Russia has made no such claims.

I don't think we need anybody to claim anything to note that an airliner shot down at 30,000 feet must have been shot down by an anti-aircraft system capable of shooting down aircraft operating at 30,000 feet. These are not the sort of thing you pick up at the local hunting store, nor the sort of thing that "falls off the back of a truck". Man-Portable Air Defense Systems - ie the shoulder-launched tube missiles - don't shoot that high. The Buk missile system - which has been seen in separatist hands - is basically a tank. I find it hard to believe that the guys driving Russian tanks around aren't backed by Russia, even a little bit.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:22 AM on July 17 [6 favorites]


Follow Yulia Bragina

1) "Commander-In-Chief of DNR" did delete a post about downing what they thought was AN-26, which turned out to be #MH17 -- http://web.archive.org/web/20140717161058/https://vk.com/strelkov_info

2) In this post Strelkov said: "Told you not to fly over our sky. Here is video of "birdfall". Our cameraman found the archived version of it.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:24 AM on July 17 [7 favorites]


A neutral third-party (ICAO? The Siwss?) need to step up and take custody of the flight recorders and other evidence immediately.

No chance. Observers from the OSCE were taken prisoner in Donetsk, and they posed less of a political threat than the flight recorders do.
posted by gsteff at 11:24 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


We also know that earlier this week a Ukrainian transport was shot down, as well as a Ukrainian fighter jet being damaged.

We know that the separatists posted a claim this morning that they had shot down another Ukrainian transport, and then deleted all their boasts.

This isn't a case of "rushing to judgement", it's a reasonable deduction from evidence.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:24 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


from the FT
Ukrainian officials said the plane had been flying at 10,000m and was shot down by a Buk missile, a Russian-made, vehicle-mounted weapon system found in the armoury of both Russian and Ukrainian forces.

But Russian state media reported last month that the rebels in Donetsk had captured anti-aircraft missile systems including Buk from the Ukrainian Air Force.
posted by shothotbot at 11:24 AM on July 17


Omdtlp: Malaysian passports are red - not quite maroon but could be seen as such in wreckage.

I ran the footage back. I see four Dutch passports, two Malaysian ones, six more unidentified maroon ones, and three blue ones (could be U.S. or Canadian). The camera then pans to the back of another Dutch passport that says "gemeente Naarden" (municipality of Naarden) on it.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:25 AM on July 17


I thought I saw a report earlier that there was a Ukrainian transport in the area, but given how many Ukrainian planes have been shot down recently that seems reckless. Anyone else see that?
posted by shothotbot at 11:25 AM on July 17


You better bet they have an interest in AA defenses.

The Ukranians have one of the best AA radar systems in the world - top-flight, first-world stuff. They're incredibly reluctant to bring Russia directly into their war with Eastern separatists, so it's doubtful they'd use it short of a full-scale Russian arial assault. The nature of the system means it's also under very strict central control. So, it's possible, but unlikely the Ukranians were the ones to pull the trigger.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:26 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


emjaybee: “Does anyone actually believe the separatists aren't backed by Russia? I ask somewhat incredulously, but then, I have never heard anyone but Russia (and Russia-sympathetic Ukranians) make this claim. It seems too obvious to dispute. If they shot the airliner, it seems likely to be a mistake and not Putin's direct order (unless he's lost his mind), but that doesn't mean he didn't send them over/support them in the first place.”

According to the three friends I have in Moscow, pretty much everyone in Russia believes this, and believes furthermore that the non-separatists are not legitimate and only survive because they are backed strongly but covertly by the US.

I have no idea what people in Europe think. It seems to be a wash. There are, as far as I can tell, a lot of people with fascist leanings who hold the separatists to be comrades in arms.

Homeboy Trouble: “I don't think we need anybody to claim anything to note that an airliner shot down at 30,000 feet must have been shot down by an anti-aircraft system capable of shooting down aircraft operating at 30,000 feet. These are not the sort of thing you pick up at the local hunting store, nor the sort of thing that 'falls off the back of a truck'. Man-Portable Air Defense Systems - ie the shoulder-launched tube missiles - don't shoot that high. The Buk missile system - which has been seen in separatist hands - is basically a tank. I find it hard to believe that the guys driving Russian tanks around aren't backed by Russia, even a little bit.”

One of the accounts floating around is that the separatists recently captured it from those they are fighting against.

My general take on this:

I'm hoping this whole situation becomes more clear. In the interest of seeing that happen, I think we should probably not assume what we want to prove.
posted by koeselitz at 11:27 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Regarding the questions about airspace restrictions, from what I can find online the filed flight plan of MH17 included:

N0490F310 ARNEM UL620 SUVOX UZ713 OSN UL980 MOBSA POVEL SUI L980 UTOLU/N0490F330 L980 LDZ M70 BEMBI L980 PEKIT/N0480F350 L980 TAMAK/N0480F350 A87 TIROM/N0490F350 A87 MAMED B449 RANAH L750 ZB G201 BI MURLI TIGER/N0490F370 L333 KKJ L759 PUT R325 VIH A464 DAKUS

(This is referenced on the PPRuNe forum, but I'm trying to find confirmation elsewhere)

This is going to be greek to most folks, but notice the bit that says "TAMAK... A87.... TIROM". This means the flight was going to be following the A87 flight lane from the TAMAK waypoint.

I've found this NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) number V6158/14 from Ukraine (excerpted... )
DUE TO COMBAT ACTIONS ON THE TERRITORY OF THE UKRAINE NEAR THE
STATE BORDER WITH THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION AND THE FACTS OF FIRING
FROM THE TERRITORY OF THE UKRAINE TOWARDS THE TERRITORY OF RUSSIAN
FEDERATION, TO ENSURE INTL FLT SAFETY,
ATS RTE SEGMENTS CLSD AS FLW:

...

A87   TAMAK - SARNA,

...

   SFC - FL320.
(I can't link to this directly, but search from https://pilotweb.nas.faa.gov/PilotWeb/ for the URRV ICAO and you can find it)

This means that that flight path would have been restricted from the surface to 32000 feet. Since it looks like this flight was planned for 33000 feet, it would have been permitted. I'm not *sure* if this is where the plane went down, but if not it was close, based upon the maps I'm looking at.

I'd get some maps to share, but I'm at work and following this in my minimum free time. This should at least give my best guess at the restrictions on this airspace. I am not a licensed pilot, just an aviation enthusiast, so take all this with a grain of salt.
posted by jammer at 11:30 AM on July 17 [27 favorites]


I think NOTAM only apply to US carriers, which makes sense since they are issued by US gov't.
posted by smackfu at 11:33 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


The New York Times has an article up, with some interesting phone interviews and coverage. Also, this odd detail:
Russian missile systems are named for trees.
posted by koeselitz at 1:45 PM on July 17 [2 favorites +] [!]


That's a peculiar extrapolation from a single data point. Just among Russian SAM systems, there are also ones named for geometric solids ("Kub"/"Cube"), birds ("Berkut"/"Golden Eagle"), mythical giants ("Antey"/"Antaeus"), insects ("Osa"/"Wasp"), and sharp pointy things ("Strela"/"Arrow" and "Igla"/"Needle"). I don't know any other tree-related ones offhand, although they may be out there.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 11:34 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I don't think we need anybody to claim anything to note that an airliner shot down at 30,000 feet must have been shot down by an anti-aircraft system capable of shooting down aircraft operating at 30,000 feet. These are not the sort of thing you pick up at the local hunting store, nor the sort of thing that "falls off the back of a truck". Man-Portable Air Defense Systems - ie the shoulder-launched tube missiles - don't shoot that high. The Buk missile system - which has been seen in separatist hands - is basically a tank.

Ukrainian military units have defected, whatever happened could conceivably have used Ukrainian equipment.
posted by spaltavian at 11:34 AM on July 17


Here's a track of the plane. It was flying at 31,000 feet for most of its trip, but rose to 33,000 shortly before the end.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:35 AM on July 17


Three pictures from Strelkov's social media site.

Translation, via Reddit: "Just shot down an AN-26 plane on Toreza area, crashed around the the Progress mine.
We warned them about flying in "our sky".
And here's a video confirming another "plane falling". [He says something along the lines of "birdfall" but I figure this would be clearer]
The bird fell past the territory, living sector was not hit.
Civilians were not hurt.
And there's also information about a second plane being shot down, looks to be a SU."
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:35 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


No chance. Observers from the OSCE were taken prisoner in Donetsk, and they posed less of a political threat than the flight recorders do.

Apparently OSCE representatives are on their way to the scene. I hope they are unharmed.
posted by zachlipton at 11:37 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


NOTAMs are defined by ICAO, and can be issued by any controlling aviation authority, and by my (again, amateur) understanding apply to all civil (if it's a civilian NOTAM) aircraft flying through the controlled region if they are "mandatory" rather than "advisory".
posted by jammer at 11:38 AM on July 17


I have no idea what people in Europe think. It seems to be a wash. There are, as far as I can tell, a lot of people with fascist leanings who hold the separatists to be comrades in arms.
Do you mean a high proportion of European fascists think this? Or that there are a lot of fascists in Europe?
posted by caek at 11:39 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Is the NTSB likely to be involved in the investigation, since it was a Boeing plane, or not, since it crashed in what is, for all intents and purposes, a war zone?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:40 AM on July 17


NYT reporter Sabrina Tavenise is at the scene. Good god.

After strewing debris over an area of several miles, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 came to a rest in a large wheat field dotted with with purple flowers and ringed in Queen Anne’s lace. Incongruously, many of the bodies strewn about in the smoldering wreckage were largely intact, indicating that the plane had made at least a somewhat controlled landing.

As dark descended on the field, a light rain began to fall, casting a funereal pall over a scene of almost unspeakable horror. A woman in a black sweater top lay on her back, blood streaming from her face, her left arm raised as if signaling someone. Another victim, naked except for a black bra, lay on the field, her grey hair mixing with the green grasses, one leg broken and her body torn.

A young boy, who looked to be around 10 years old, lay on his side in a red T-shirt reading “Don’t Panic.”

Pieces of the plane were scattered across the road and field, a seat back with its television display cracked, a tail fin clearly displaying the colors of Malaysian Airlines. One televised image showed a travel guide for Bali, almost untouched.

The road was lined with fire engines and other emergency vehicles. Militiamen, plentiful in this rebel-controlled territory, urged journalists to take photographs. Rescue workers tied pieces of white cloth on nearby tree branches to mark where bodies were found.

There were no houses in the immediate vicinity. The only visible structure was a poultry operation with long white coops visible in the distance.

Many of the victims were still in their seat belts and attached to pieces of the plane. One man, still in his socks, but without pants, lay akimbo on the field, his right arm placed on his stomach, as if in repose.

A young man in blue shorts, wearing red Nike sneakers, lay with his arms and legs splayed outward, clutching his iPhone.

posted by gwint at 11:42 AM on July 17 [36 favorites]


.
posted by doctornemo at 11:42 AM on July 17


.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 11:44 AM on July 17


.
(i am so worried)
posted by Theta States at 11:46 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I just....those poor people. And their families. I can't stop thinking about them.

.
posted by whitetigereyes at 11:46 AM on July 17 [8 favorites]


Fascinating tweet:

Retweeted by Yulia Bragina
Simon Shuster @shustry · 2h
Spoke to Ukraine separatist leader Tsarev. Says they don't have the weapons to take down #MH17. Hung up when asked about their BUK missiles
posted by Ironmouth at 11:47 AM on July 17 [5 favorites]


I can't reconcile the report above that says it looks like the plane made a "somewhat controlled landing" with other reports that say debris is scattered over a 9-mile area. The only scenario I can think of that would allow both things to be true is that a missile hit and damaged the plane, but didn't destroy it, and that the pilots were then forced to land the crippled plane in a field. Which likely means that people aboard the plane knew what was going on. Which has my stomach in knots.

I would be really happy if someone could discredit my thinking on this.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:51 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


AV Herald report. Some photos and video, bodies are obscured.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:56 AM on July 17


It also means if it was an attempted controlled landing, there may be a lot of things on those blackbox recorders.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:56 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Guardian:
Igor Sutyagin, a Russian military specialist at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, said that he believed that either Russians or Russian supported groups in eastern Ukraine were responsible. He said they had been shooting at Ukrainian aircraft over the last week.

Sutyagin, who monitors social media in the Ukraine, said a Ukrainian rebel force had been spotted just hours earlier with a Buk at Torez, a village close to the site where the plane came down.

Jonathan Eyal, director of the Royal United Services Institute, said it was not a matter of climbing aboard a van and pressing a button. Firing a missile required knowledge of how to use radar, how to lock onto a target and a host of other steps beyond the average Kalashnikov carrying rebel.

"If the plane was shot down, it could only have been shot down by a state authority … The only country that has a persistent policy of trying to prevent Ukrainians controlling air space is Russia. Russia has taken an interest in shooting down aircraft and forcing Ukraine to use ground troops."
I'm assuming that at least a portion of the rebels include former military or those with expertise, but this was on my mind as well. The only equipment in the area remotely capable of downing an aircraft at 30,000 feet (other than another aircraft) would require someone who actually knew how to use it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:58 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I can't reconcile the report above that says it looks like the plane made a "somewhat controlled landing"

The random reporter who happens to be in Eastern Ukraine almost certainly has no experience with plane crash scenes.
posted by smackfu at 11:58 AM on July 17 [10 favorites]


Yeah, when people first started talking about the black box and the pro-Russian group absconding with it to Moscow, my initial thought was "That's really cheeky, but how helpful is a black box if a plane is blown up by a missile?"

Then I thought it through a little bit, and the implications of what the recorder recorded -- and who gets control of that information -- are pretty scary.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:00 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


From the AV Herald comments
Another case for wireless streaming of blackbox data.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:00 PM on July 17 [5 favorites]


Pentagon now confirming a missile shot the plane down via CNN.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:01 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Washington Post: What has and has not been confirmed in Malaysia Airlines crash.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:03 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I can't reconcile the report above that says it looks like the plane made a "somewhat controlled landing"

If it was a Boeing 777, would any attempt at an emergency landing also include air mask deployment, the pilots making a mayday call, etc? It doesn't seem so far like any of that happened.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:04 PM on July 17


Ukrainian SBU (security agency) released an audio recording allegedly of pro-Ru's discussing MH17.
(No subtitles… can anyone with better Russian than me assist?)
posted by Kabanos at 12:04 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


holy shit
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:05 PM on July 17


The random reporter who happens to be in Eastern Ukraine almost certainly has no experience with plane crash scenes.

Guardian ticker has @NoahSneider's tweets: "Locals say everything exploded in the air, fell in pieces, both bodies and plane itself. Ppl thought they were being bombed. "
posted by TwoStride at 12:05 PM on July 17


Watch oil futures in the EU tomorrow morning. That will tell you who did what. Or Nymex late today, possibly.
posted by digitalprimate at 12:06 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I happen to be in Russia for work this week, and am currently watching the news coverage at the hotel with other guests, mix of foreigners and Russians but all speechless. Not much to add, but between this and the tragic Moscow Metro crash a few days ago, it's been a rather distressing week.
posted by photo guy at 12:06 PM on July 17


Okay, this seems more clear, if more awful:

Locals say everything exploded in the air, fell in pieces, both bodies and plane itself. Ppl thought they were being bombed.

So if witness accounts are accurate, that's not a controlled anything. That's a plane that was destroyed in the air and fell to the ground.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:07 PM on July 17


Pentagon now confirming a missile shot the plane down via CNN.

Not watching CNN but twitter has this quote:

""..according to the NSA satellites, the Pentagon, and the CIA - the launch was carried out from the territory of the Russian Federation."

Is that what they're saying? Or is this just twitter rumor bs?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:07 PM on July 17


If anybody speaks or reads Russian, I'm very curious what this video entitled "боінг 17 07 14 2" says. It was posted by a YouTube account named "Служба безпеки України" — which translates to "Security Service of Ukraine" — and was purported to be, "SBU published phone calls. Rebels said that they had shot down a civil plane."

Same video as Kabanos posted above
posted by ob1quixote at 12:07 PM on July 17



""..according to the NSA satellites, the Pentagon, and the CIA - the launch was carried out from the territory of the Russian Federation."

Is that what they're saying?


Saw it on twitter. If the Russians did shoot it down, oh, boy, we have a real problem. How does Putin get out of it? Invading Ukraine would be one way.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:08 PM on July 17


""..according to the NSA satellites, the Pentagon, and the CIA - the launch was carried out from the territory of the Russian Federation."

Given that U.S. satellites are run by the NRO, not the NSA, I'll take this with a grain of salt.
posted by gsteff at 12:10 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


President Poroshenko calls shooting down of Malaysian plane an 'act of terrorism'
posted by komara at 12:10 PM on July 17


Russian media is saying that Ukrainians shot down the plane because they believed it was Putin's plane.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:11 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


The reason noncombatants are killed in war is exactly because mistakes get made by people who are using lethal force in stressful situations.

Or, more typically, they are brutally killed on purpose. "Collateral damage" isn't a mistake either. It is a known write-off of human life that is deemed acceptable to accomplish a mission.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 12:11 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


If the Russians did shoot it down, oh, boy, we have a real problem

Putin will say something like: "The freedom loving people of eastern Ukraine shot it down by accident, Russia can take no responsibility and, in fact, its probably the fault of the illegitimate regime in Kiev." Continue to sell natural gas to Germany and buy advanced warships from France. 32 new people get put on a sanctions list.
posted by shothotbot at 12:11 PM on July 17 [8 favorites]


It wouldn't be the first time the Russians have shot down a passenger jet. We (Americans) have done it as well.
posted by Justinian at 12:11 PM on July 17


If it was a Boeing 777, would any attempt at an emergency landing also include air mask deployment, the pilots making a mayday call, etc? It doesn't seem so far like any of that happened.
posted by XQUZYPHYR


Don't know about the air masks. But no mayday call would not be surprising. Pilots are taught "aviate, navigate, communicate." That's the order to do things in. If they're desperately trying to keep the plane in the air, they are going to do that before anything else, including making a distress call.
posted by azpenguin at 12:12 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


No confirmation of that pentagon report on CNN, please disregard, sorry for quoting non-journalists itt.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:12 PM on July 17


Watch oil futures in the EU tomorrow morning. That will tell you who did what. Or Nymex late today, possibly.

As someone who has traded commodity futures professionally for 20 years: uh, no.
posted by shothotbot at 12:12 PM on July 17 [32 favorites]


Partial translation of the SBU audio recording (via someone on reddit):
Can't provide a full one but here are the highlights: "People from Chernukhin shot down the plane. Cassacks." "Found first 200th. He's a civilian" "- What's going on there? - This is a civil plane for sure. - How many people are there? - Shitton. [not literal] Debris falling around." "- Any documents? - Yes. Of Indonesian student. From Thompson university"
On preview… more being quickly added to that thread...
posted by Kabanos at 12:13 PM on July 17 [5 favorites]


@Missilito : Early Saturday Morning separatists attacked a Ukrainian Buk-M1 Battalion [m/u A-1428] at Avdiyivka
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:13 PM on July 17


I was relatively young at the time, can someone a little older remind me; were there any significant repercussions when the US shot down that Iranian passenger jet in '88? It was a comparable tragedy with nearly 300 killed.
posted by Justinian at 12:13 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I am already having a terrible morning and then the report of the wreckage broke my fucking heart
posted by divabat at 12:14 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Picture of Ukraine airspace shortly after the crash.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:14 PM on July 17 [5 favorites]


Now Ukrainian Government is now in a presser, claiming that they have a Russian GRU officer on tape claiming the Russians shot down the aircraft.

Jesus christ.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:14 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


SBU audio recording

Expect tons and tons of disinformation on this. Seriously. It's youtube. It's less likely to be accurate than CNN.
posted by kiltedtaco at 12:15 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


I was relatively young at the time, can someone a little older remind me; were there any significant repercussions when the US shot down that Iranian passenger jet in '88? It was a comparable tragedy with nearly 300 killed.

US settled at the International Court of Justice, paying 61.8 million to the families.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:16 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


The same report that says "indicating that the plane had made at least a somewhat controlled landing." also say "A woman in a black sweater top lay on her back, blood streaming from her face" so, unless she's still somehow alive and the reporter failed to mention it, I'm guessing some artistic license has been taken.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 12:17 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I have a rocky relationship with Malaysia but it feels so horrible that Malaysia has been trying for so long to get.any sort of international respect and it takes two planes in four months for people to go from "what is a malaysia" to "how bout them planes"
posted by divabat at 12:17 PM on July 17 [11 favorites]


Watch oil futures in the EU tomorrow morning. That will tell you who did what. Or Nymex late today, possibly.

As someone who has traded commodity futures professionally for 20 years: uh, no.


As someone doing OTC swaps at this very moment, yes. If you're institutional, sure you can wait. You have a limited number of bbls in the ground right now, not so much. Someone in Singapore or London knows. They always do.
posted by digitalprimate at 12:17 PM on July 17


SBU audio recording

Expect tons and tons of disinformation on this. Seriously. It's youtube. It's less likely to be accurate than CNN.


Ukrainian government just stated they have the recording and are giving it out to the press. I saw the Ukrainian guy at the presser say it in English on CNN.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:17 PM on July 17


US settled at the International Court of Justice, paying 61.8 million to the families.

Thanks. That seems... ridiculously inadequate.
posted by Justinian at 12:18 PM on July 17 [10 favorites]


If Putin started handing out tapes personally I still wouldn't trust it, and I'm not sure I'd trust a Ukrainian government press conference much more.
posted by kiltedtaco at 12:21 PM on July 17


I translate here the transcript from the SBU-released video, second conversation:
—Yes, "Major"?
—The Chernukhino guys shot down a plane. From the Chernukhino check-point. The Cossacks who are by Chernukhino. The plane exploded in the air, near the Petropavlovsk mineshaft. The first 200-er (?), they got the first 200-er (?). A civilian one.
—So what's going on where you are?
—In a word, 100% a civilian aircraft.
—Many people there?
—It's fucked up. Fragments fell right into courtyards.
—What kind of aircraft?
—I haven't figured yet. I haven't been near the main part. I only see where the first bodies have fallen. There are remains of chairs, bodies...
—No weaponry?
—None whatsoever. Civilian things, medicine boxes, blankets, toilet paper...
—Any IDs?
—Yes. One Indonesian student, from Thomson University.
posted by susuman at 12:21 PM on July 17 [31 favorites]


Don't know about the air masks. But no mayday call would not be surprising. Pilots are taught "aviate, navigate, communicate." That's the order to do things in. If they're desperately trying to keep the plane in the air, they are going to do that before anything else, including making a distress call.

I guess my point was, if the hull was breached, and for some reason oxygen masks didn't deploy... I mean, apologies for being morbid but, that would be it for everyone onboard, wouldn't it? I mean there's just no way you survive a sudden depressurized drop from 30,000 feet, "controlled" or not.

I dunno, I just... I think there's a part of me that would really like to believe the passengers died instantly. The alternative is very hard to think about.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:21 PM on July 17


Expect tons and tons of disinformation on this. Seriously. It's youtube. It's less likely to be accurate than CNN.

The SBU have previously released recordings of GRU Colonel Girkin and Colonel Besler that were later confirmed to be authentic.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:22 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I can't believe we're already exchanging condolences and even capable of talking about who might've done this. This is so beyond the pale. The guy that pulled the trigger has probably been quartered and his body parts sent to the corners of the world. I'm expecting an almost unaddressable level of cover-up.
posted by phaedon at 12:23 PM on July 17


Justinian: “I was relatively young at the time, can someone a little older remind me; were there any significant repercussions when the US shot down that Iranian passenger jet in '88? It was a comparable tragedy with nearly 300 killed.”
The U.S. paid $131.8M, $61.8M to the families of the victims, in compensation for the Vincennes incident. There was no censure of the sailors involved and the captain went on to receive the Legion of Merit for his time commanding the ship.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:24 PM on July 17


XQUZYPHYR, I'd like to think that as well.
posted by azpenguin at 12:24 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


The Chernukhino we hear about in the SBU video seems to be that village, in the center of the rebel-controlled Donbass area.
posted by susuman at 12:27 PM on July 17


I almost feel dumb recounting this, because there was never any real danger, but- one time I was on a plane and, due to an announcement which I misinterpreted, for several seconds I became absolutely convinced that it was about to crash. Like I say, nothing was actually wrong, but I still rank it as one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me. I truly thought I was about to die. It's definitely affected how I feel whenever I see a story like this.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:27 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


kiltedtaco: "Expect tons and tons of disinformation on this. Seriously. It's youtube. It's less likely to be accurate than CNN."

No source anywhere is less likely to be accurate than CNN. That includes the street preacher guy shouting about the book of Revelation around the corner.

Again, MSNBC, Fox, CNN, and other television news channels should be avoided at all costs. They are worse than Twitter or YouTube, which at least are static media that can be judged on their own merit.
posted by koeselitz at 12:29 PM on July 17 [8 favorites]


Tagesschau just showed, among other things, someone holding a rather large number of maroon passports that apparently came from the crash site. I think the EU is pretty much obligated to react here.

Given that the flight was going to Schiphol it was bound to be bearing lots of EU passengers. I'm not sure exactly what the EU or European governments will do on the back of this, however. Any public reaction isn't likely to get Russia to step away from its mess, and acting in anger won't help anybody. Indeed, it might even be better if Germany is still willing to treat Russia in a friendly way and privately counsel that its actions are growing more and more reckless.

(Also, the passports are burgundy, not maroon.)
posted by Thing at 12:30 PM on July 17


Expect tons and tons of disinformation on this. Seriously.

as my 83-year-old mom just put it, "I've got too much to do today. I think I'll wait two weeks and read about all this in my Guardian Weekly."
posted by philip-random at 12:31 PM on July 17 [6 favorites]


Thing: The flight began at Schiphol and was flying to Malaysia.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:32 PM on July 17


My mistake. Sorry for the confusion.
posted by Thing at 12:33 PM on July 17


I'm not sure exactly what the EU or European governments will do

Continue to sell mistral-class amphibious assault ships to Putin?
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:33 PM on July 17 [7 favorites]


No source anywhere is less likely to be accurate than CNN. That includes the street preacher guy shouting about the book of Revelation around the corner.

That's exactly my point.
posted by kiltedtaco at 12:34 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know if there is a passenger manifest available?
posted by divabat at 12:35 PM on July 17


(Also, the passports are burgundy, not maroon.)

Given the variation between government printing offices, this distinction is immaterial.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:35 PM on July 17


Fearless Leader just informed us that "it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:36 PM on July 17


Fearless Leader just informed us that "it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy".

I'm assuming you mean the president, and regarding him saying that: ..........and?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:38 PM on July 17 [6 favorites]


Given the variation between government printing offices, this distinction is immaterial.

They're officially burgundy.
posted by Thing at 12:39 PM on July 17


I agree that CNN and the other "news" outlets are junk so where would you point me to find reliable info?
posted by robbyrobs at 12:40 PM on July 17


kiltedtaco: "Expect tons and tons of disinformation on this. Seriously. It's youtube. It's less likely to be accurate than CNN."

No source anywhere is less likely to be accurate than CNN. That includes the street preacher guy shouting about the book of Revelation around the corner.

Again, MSNBC, Fox, CNN, and other television news channels should be avoided at all costs. They are worse than Twitter or YouTube, which at least are static media that can be judged on their own merit.


Hardly. I just witnessed the Ukrainian foreign minister release the SBU tapes. I also listened to a phone report from a person on the scene.

Its a lot better than twitter.

Fearless Leader just informed us that "it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy".

Prefer that to Iraq has WMD and we're invading. Bush was wrong. Let Obama figure out what we know and what to do over some time.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:41 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


XQUZYPHYR: I'm assuming you mean the president, and regarding him saying that: ..........and?

Both of you are being ambiguous. I assumed Chocolate Pickle meant Putin, but having looked it up, he was in fact talking about Obama. Many Presidents in this world. Many.
posted by gman at 12:41 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I'm assuming you mean the president, and regarding him saying that: ..........and?

This is as good a place for idiotic Obama hatred as any....
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:42 PM on July 17 [20 favorites]


They're officially burgundy.

Only if French. Otherwise they're "sparkling."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:42 PM on July 17 [17 favorites]


I'm so glad we have a 24-hour newscycle. What a valuable service of conjecture, panic, spin, misinformation, propaganda, and ambulance chasing it provides!
posted by entropicamericana at 12:43 PM on July 17 [5 favorites]


I think Pickle was simply pointing out that this was a terrible tragedy no matter what brought the plane down. There is no "may be" about it despite Obama's phrasing.
posted by Justinian at 12:45 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


“Separatists admit downing a civilian plane in tapped conversation (FULL TRANSCRIPT),” The Kyiv Post, 17 July 2014 22:36 EEST
posted by ob1quixote at 12:47 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I'm so glad we have a 24-hour newscycle. What a valuable service of conjecture, panic, spin, misinformation, propaganda, and ambulance chasing it provides!

I know it's hip to shit on the mainstream news, and in many matters I have found the networks' coverage of events sorely lacking, but about 15 minutes watching ABC's coverage was far more balanced, informative, and reasonable than I expected.
posted by aught at 12:47 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


I was kind of hoping for "We condemn those who committed this atrocity and we will offer as much help as we can to the government of Ukraine."
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:48 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


The United States is prepared to act with the utmost speed and resolve to condemn this atrocity, if that is what it happens to be, in the strongest possible words (but no swears).
posted by Behemoth at 12:50 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Reporter Natalia Melnychuk is reporting from the Ukraine in English.
posted by drezdn at 12:50 PM on July 17


I was kind of hoping for "We condemn those who committed this atrocity and we will offer as much help as we can to the government of Ukraine."

Then you should have watched the speech. He said he was going to give Ukraine all the help they needed. He just didn't say it had been shot down. Need to get that one right.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:51 PM on July 17 [5 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle: I was kind of hoping for "We condemn those who committed this atrocity and we will offer as much help as we can to the government of Ukraine."

Be honest here -- would that really have been enough for you not to talk about what the "fearless leader" is and isn't doing right?
posted by tonycpsu at 12:51 PM on July 17 [26 favorites]


@Chocolate Pickle

There is actual value in showing restraint in the use of words in volatile situations such as this one. I'm sure you do know that.
posted by RedShrek at 12:51 PM on July 17 [12 favorites]


has Obama talked to Najib?
posted by divabat at 12:52 PM on July 17


I was kind of hoping for "We condemn those who committed this atrocity and we will offer as much help as we can to the government of Ukraine."

"The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened, and why"

... was literally the next sentence uttered by "Fearless Leader," but I guess whatever Twitchy post you copied yours from didn't include that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:55 PM on July 17 [35 favorites]


I was kind of hoping for "We condemn those who committed this atrocity and we will offer as much help as we can to the government of Ukraine."

I can easily imagine a situation where the nitpicking would be over him calling it a deliberate act when it has not been confirmed/denied as such by anyone who is not Russia or Ukraine.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:55 PM on July 17 [5 favorites]


were there any significant repercussions when the US shot down that Iranian passenger jet in '88?

Remember the US settled with the dead Chinese when their embassy was bombed "by mistake" back in the day.

And later it was claimed the 'mistake' was more 'was a source of data to opposing forces'.

and while settlements like the 60+ million happen I'm guessing its far easier and better than nukes flying around.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:59 PM on July 17


White House is in lock-down right now. And it will stay that way until discussion of "Fearless Leader" ends.
posted by Kabanos at 1:00 PM on July 17


UPDATE: "Unattended package" on fence line of North Lawn at White House has forced lockdown
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:02 PM on July 17


[Move on, folks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 1:04 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


Yeah, it sounds like someone left their bag on the lawn or something and has nothing to do with this.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:04 PM on July 17


.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 1:05 PM on July 17


Contrail after Buk surface-to-air missile was launched at the 3rd district of #Torez
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:07 PM on July 17


This means that that flight path would have been restricted from the surface to 32000 feet. Since it looks like this flight was planned for 33000 feet, it would have been permitted. I'm not *sure* if this is where the plane went down, but if not it was close, based upon the maps I'm looking at.

Per this tweet attributed to Eurocontrol and Rueters, they were 1,000 feet above the airspace restriction, so yep.
posted by zachlipton at 1:09 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Contrail after Buk surface-to-air missile was launched at the 3rd district of #Torez

looks like some place rural maybe a bit suburan, some blue sky with a few puffs of something in it.
posted by philip-random at 1:12 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


me: "Again, MSNBC, Fox, CNN, and other television news channels should be avoided at all costs. They are worse than Twitter or YouTube, which at least are static media that can be judged on their own merit."

Ironmouth: "Hardly. I just witnessed the Ukrainian foreign minister release the SBU tapes. I also listened to a phone report from a person on the scene. Its a lot better than twitter."

You witnessed it – who translated it? How do you know the phone report is from a person on the scene? CNN, MSNBC, and Fox have all bungled this stuff so often that it's a mistake to call what they do "journalism." The only difference between these networks and Twitter is that the networks gather unsubstantiated stories for a purpose: to increase their market share.

Which makes Twitter better, since at least Twitter allows you to (a) go back and read over what's been tweeted to examine it and verify it, and (b) filter tweets on your own so you can decide what to read.
posted by koeselitz at 1:15 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


OK, more actual confirmation here: WSJ Reports US Intel claims "surface-to-air missile fired at Malaysian jet but are divided over origin".
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:18 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


The Telegraph live-blog just posted a picture showing how there are hardly any jets now over Ukraine. One thing I found interesting is that there is a virtual sky-train of jets flying over ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq, rerouted there because it's perceived to be safer. (I guess you gotta fly somewhere.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:18 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


A Howard Stern listener made a prank call on MSNBC's The Cycle claiming to be an eyewitness to the attack. bleargh.
posted by Small Dollar at 1:22 PM on July 17


looking like a missile more and more. Even photos of the missile's contrail.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:23 PM on July 17


me: "Again, MSNBC, Fox, CNN, and other television news channels should be avoided at all costs. They are worse than Twitter or YouTube, which at least are static media that can be judged on their own merit."

Ironmouth: "Hardly. I just witnessed the Ukrainian foreign minister release the SBU tapes. I also listened to a phone report from a person on the scene. Its a lot better than twitter."

You witnessed it – who translated it? How do you know the phone report is from a person on the scene? CNN, MSNBC, and Fox have all bungled this stuff so often that it's a mistake to call what they do "journalism." The only difference between these networks and Twitter is that the networks gather unsubstantiated stories for a purpose: to increase their market share.

Which makes Twitter better, since at least Twitter allows you to (a) go back and read over what's been tweeted to examine it and verify it, and (b) filter tweets on your own so you can decide what to read.


Please. Twitter is only working off the sources of the MSM. Not like there's tons of people tweeting from the Ukrainian MOD or the CIA.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:25 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


Guys, can we please stay on topic and not debate Twitter v. mainstream media? This is fast-moving enough without derails.
posted by ladybird at 1:29 PM on July 17 [16 favorites]


A Howard Stern listener made a prank call on MSNBC's The Cycle claiming to be an eyewitness to the attack. bleargh.


Someone I work for was just crowing about how funny this was. See if I get you those spreadsheets you so desperately need today, asshole.
posted by pineappleheart at 1:31 PM on July 17 [28 favorites]


Wasn't there a scheduled news conference in Malaysia?
posted by shortfuse at 1:33 PM on July 17


It's airing right now, in fact.
posted by Small Dollar at 1:43 PM on July 17


Jim Acosta (CNN): "Biden moments ago says US looking into cause of plane crash but says it was "apparently shot down. Not an accident. Blown out of the sky.""
posted by komara at 1:44 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


From the Guardian liveblog - U.S. officials confirm the plane was shot down.
MH17 "was shot down" and there "may have been American citizens on board", US vice-president Joe Biden has said in Detroit. Senior US officials has told the Wall Street Journal and CNN that a surface-to-air missile shot down MH17.

As explained by Barbara Starr on CNN, US intelligence had found a heat signature from "a massive event" and "information from intelligence assets" confirming the use of a surface-to-air missile system.

"Information from intelligence assets that a surface to air missile system … was tracking an object, they believe it was the object. There was at racking of the aircraft from a surface-to-air missile system."

"[US intelligence has] another asset that gives them a heat signature, an infrared heat signature that tells them there was a massive event … they put both of these pieces of information together and concluded that the plane was shot down.
posted by fight or flight at 1:45 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


This is awful.
posted by Renoroc at 1:49 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


200-er (?)

Apparently this is Russian slang for a dead body.
posted by theodolite at 1:50 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


You witnessed it – who translated it?

If you want an independent translation of the voice recording which has been alleged to have occurred between two Russian-supported separatist leaders, The Interpreter blog (a US-based non-profit) has its own.
posted by dhartung at 1:53 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Today is a bad day for peace. I am impotently angry at people who can justify killing others for some bullshit cause or "response". I empathize with the civilians - there but for dumb luck go I.
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:54 PM on July 17 [10 favorites]


I was on MH17 in 2005, travelling from Amsterdam to Australia by way of Kuala Lumpur. A really common route. There will have been people from all over the place on that plane. Malaysia, EU, US, Australia, you name it.
posted by rocketpup at 1:54 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Putin says airplane disaster would not have happened if Kiev had not renewed military operation against rebels in east Ukraine - Reuters.
posted by helloknitty at 1:56 PM on July 17


The heat signature "assets" are likely SBIRS or DSP.
posted by kiltedtaco at 1:57 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


And it wouldn't have happened if Putin refrained from arming his proxy soldiers with anti-aircraft missiles. Or did the Cossacks scrape together the money to buy that thing on ebay?
posted by Kevin Street at 2:01 PM on July 17 [6 favorites]


Putin says airplane disaster would not have happened if Kiev had not renewed military operation against rebels in east Ukraine

It sounds like Russia isn't even going to try to claim that the Ukrainian military did this, which surprises me slightly.
posted by gsteff at 2:02 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Putin says airplane disaster would not have happened if Kiev had not renewed military operation against rebels in east Ukraine

interesting perspective. i would have guessed that the missile was a bigger factor
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:02 PM on July 17 [25 favorites]


Expect tons and tons of disinformation on this. Seriously.

It is indeed pointless to read any information source on this event for at least 3 months. Murky and shady doesn't begin to describe it.

.
posted by colie at 2:03 PM on July 17


I can't comprehend the Putin quote - is that an admission or a threat? (If he meant to say that it was caused be the Ukrainians, e.g. the government in Kiev, he would have said exactly that. But he didn't.)
posted by newdaddy at 2:03 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Question: I was on an international flight yesterday, and between check-in/bag-drop, customs, security, and boarding, I had my passport scanned at least 7 times.

How come it takes so long to get some kind of passenger manifest? I'm seeing a lot of "Country X says it may have had citizens on the flight."
posted by TwoStride at 2:03 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


How come it takes so long to get some kind of passenger manifest?

I assume they are attempting to notify peoples' families before releasing it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:05 PM on July 17 [20 favorites]


I think they're trying to contact next of kin first
posted by divabat at 2:06 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


TwoStride: How come it takes so long to get some kind of passenger manifest? I'm seeing a lot of "Country X says it may have had citizens on the flight."

I'd guess they had preliminary lists for a while, but information is power, and it's best to go through the lists, identify a strategy, and confirm things before notifying the public.
posted by JauntyFedora at 2:06 PM on July 17


Report on the radio of passengers just said 27 Australians, over 100 Dutch... After that it came so fast I lost track, but there were Germans, Malaysians, Indonesians, one Canadian...
posted by Jimbob at 2:06 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


That's a good point, showbiz_liz, but I don't mean necessarily publishing the names; more of countries at least being able to confirm how many of their passengers were aboard.

On preview: thanks, all.
posted by TwoStride at 2:07 PM on July 17


Partial List:

Airline releases partial list of passenger nationalities

A senior vice-president of Malaysia Airlines has released a partial list of the nationalities of the plane’s passengers. This list is incomplete because the airline doesn’t know the nationalities of the remaining passengers, officials said. (Malaysia Air had said earlier that there were 280 passengers and 15 crew members on board.)

154 Dutch
27 Australian
23 Malaysian
11 Indonesian
6 UK
4 German
4 Belgian
3 Philippines
One Canadian

Every member of the 15-person crew was Malaysian, the airline said.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews-live/liveblog/report-malaysia-airlines-plane-shot-down-over-ukrainian-airspace/?hpid=z2#8b2bced4-4a27-4c25-937a-18c6afd669f3
posted by RedShrek at 2:08 PM on July 17 [6 favorites]


telegraph.co.uk: Another man trying to find out if his loved ones were on board berated airline officials, calling Malaysia Airlines "stupid". He said: "We just want to know the name list." Another man said: "Facebook is more efficient than Malaysia Airlines' media network. It's really a laughing stock. We need to know the list. The list. That is all."
posted by shortfuse at 2:09 PM on July 17


Reuters now tweets 154 Dutch, 27 Australians, 23 Malaysians on board. But that's not a complete count. [preview failure, nevermind]
posted by beagle at 2:09 PM on July 17


And it wouldn't have happened if Putin refrained from arming his proxy soldiers with anti-aircraft missiles. Or did the Cossacks scrape together the money to buy that thing on ebay?

Personally, I'm leaning toward the theory that this was the Buk system stolen/captured from the UKR military on June 29 and seen in the area. So in a way, Putin may be off the hook here ("the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions", etc.).

As far as pax on board, governments would prefer to notify families before the media, but they like to say they are working on the problem when mostly that may mean looking up next of kin. Manifests have been wrong in the past, so they can't just go by that.
posted by dhartung at 2:10 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


But how would they know how to operate it? Even if the Buk was stolen from Ukraine, somebody with decent training must have shown them what buttons to push.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:16 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


It's a good thing none of the "Ukrainian separatists" are actually Russian operatives.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:17 PM on July 17 [17 favorites]


No Americans? There's some proof of the "let the facts come out before you start repeating random tweets", as I'd heard anywhere up to 32 Americans were on the flight.
posted by DynamiteToast at 2:19 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Manifests also wouldn't necessarily include permanent residents or people who currently reside elsewhere on visas.
posted by divabat at 2:21 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Npr just reported that the nationalities of 45 passengers haven't been released yet.
posted by futz at 2:21 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


"No Americans?"

From The Telegraph: "Dutch officials are reporting the following distribution of nationalities: [...] 47 unknown"

It's possible that the U.S. has requested that they not announce even the number of citizens lost. If there were any, that is.
posted by komara at 2:22 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


But how would they know how to operate it? Even if the Buk was stolen from Ukraine, somebody with decent training must have shown them what buttons to push.

the idea is that Russians were operating the system. Even the leader of the separatists is an admitted GRU officer.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:22 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


This is a major fuck-up and it is hard to see how anyone other than the separatists would be unsophisticated enough to make this kind of mistake.
posted by caddis at 2:22 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


"This is what the controls of older BUKs look like. You won't be operating this without some training." [unless you're Sandra Bullock]
posted by Flashman at 2:29 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think any experienced operator would mistake a passenger jet for a military transport or fighter jet. The transports don't travel at 33 000 feet and the fighters don't travel in straight lines. This is what happens when you recruit hillbillies from the Caucasus, give them (or let them steal) the latest military hardware, and set them loose to fight for Greater Russia.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:31 PM on July 17


Here's what I'm having a hard time figuring out. Given that the plane could only have been shot down by a sophisticated (i.e., not shoulder-fired) SAM like the Buk system, and given that successfully firing and hitting something with such a weapon requires a significant degree of training, it seems hard to deny that the party responsible for downing the plane was military (or ex-, if you prefer to view the separatist militia this way). But presumably, having the capability to successfully down a plane with such a system would ALSO mean you had the capability to know better, that is, to properly identify a civilian aircraft. So either the firer was untrained and colossally lucky, or trained and made a massive target identification error. I'm leaning toward the latter, which to my mind puts the blame for this squarely on Russia, because the Ukrainian military had no cause to be trying to down any aircraft, as the separatists weren't airborne.
posted by axiom at 2:33 PM on July 17 [7 favorites]


"This is what the controls of older BUKs look like. You won't be operating this without some training."

vs

I don't think any experienced operator would mistake a passenger jet for a military transport or fighter jet.

How to square the two, which both seem right?

On preview: along the lines of what axiom said.
posted by shortfuse at 2:34 PM on July 17


hillbillies from the Caucasus

Can we avoid racist stereotypes more commonly found in Putinist propaganda? Russia (and Ukraine, and many other nations) abound in hillbillies and idiots of all sorts, and the singling out of Caucasus people is pretty tasteless.
posted by susuman at 2:35 PM on July 17 [11 favorites]


So either the firer was untrained and colossally lucky, or trained and made a massive target identification error.

Or they were just completely mad, undisciplined, and didn't give a fuck.
posted by Jimbob at 2:36 PM on July 17 [7 favorites]


Putin, per The Guardian: "Undoubtedly, the government in whose air space this happened bears responsibility for this terrible tragedy." And then later in the same report, he is quoted as saying "no one has the right" to make conclusions without comprehensive, "objective information about the incident." As an aside, I dislike it when news organizations break up a quote like this, splitting off parts of a single sentence or thought.

But Geez, does this guy even listen to the shit he says?
posted by newdaddy at 2:37 PM on July 17


RT’s Irina Galushko reports there were at least 82 children on board, though that number may be as high as 100.
posted by shortfuse at 2:37 PM on July 17


They're trained enough to shoot at targets, and so far they've had some success blowing up military aircraft. But they're not trained enough to know when something isn't a legitimate target.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:37 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


But how would they know how to operate it? Even if the Buk was stolen from Ukraine, somebody with decent training must have shown them what buttons to push.

Many of the separatists have served with either the Russian or Ukrainian militaries. There seems to be a core of trained cadres surrounded by, you know, the usual array of farmers with more heart than head (to channel Gary Brecher).

newdaddy: Go back and watch his "press conference" around the time of the Crimea crisis. The guy has a roomful of selected fawning softball pitchers and really, really, really enjoys to listen to himself thinking out loud.
posted by dhartung at 2:39 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


As much as it disappoints me to say, I don't really think anything really changes based on this incident. Russia has two things the main powers in Europe need and want - gas and investment money.
posted by RedShrek at 2:41 PM on July 17


This is a major fuck-up and it is hard to see how anyone other than the separatists would be unsophisticated enough to make this kind of mistake.

This isn't necessarily a mistake. It could have been a deliberate act--meaning they saw a passenger jet and they decided to shoot it out of the sky. War is ugly. People at war are capable of unspeakable cruelty and brutality. It is often futile to understand why from the standpoint of safe harbor on the other side of the planet.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 2:50 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


The long and short of it is whatever shot down the flight was Russian in origin. Most likely from the separatists, and again most likely, not actually stolen from Russian but supplied from Russia. The current plausible deniability Moscow is hiding behind regarding the arming of separatists is about as thin as the veneer of "what troops in Crimea? Those aren't OUR troops!"
Russia has stockpiles of equipment on the boarder specifically FOR the separatists, and I'd say it's a pretty good bet there are plenty of Russian troops actually amongst the separatists.
I'd also say this incident was a mistake and in no way an intentional act, not that it actually matters to those it affects the most.

Parenthetically, it was a fucking joke for Russia to host this Olympics


it is hard to see how anyone other than the separatists would be unsophisticated enough to make this kind of mistake.

All manner of mistakes happen in warfare, being "sophisticated" in no manner makes you immune to them. All it means is you have bigger and badder mistakes because you are using bigger and badder equipment.
posted by edgeways at 2:52 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Here's the Reuters story on the alarming Putin quote. (Seriously, Reuters, putting something so inflammatory in a single tweet with no context? I hate this future of journalism.)

I'm troubled by the rumors that the separatists have taken the black box and will deliver it to Moscow. That's outright theft, not to mention covering up a murder investigation. I can't imagine the international community will accept it but by the time anyone reacts it may be too late. It's not clear to me if Malaysia, Ukraine, or the European ATC consortium has lead on the investigation. It's traditional for many countries to involve the US NTSB for their help and expertise, and likely FBI will try to get involved if there were any Americans on board.
posted by Nelson at 2:54 PM on July 17


Incidentally, here's an interview with one of the foreigners recruited to defend the newly fledged Donetsk People's Republic: I Was a Separatist Fighter in Ukraine.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:55 PM on July 17


According to this (and corroborated by this) there were a lot of AIDS researchers, activists, etc on the flight heading to a conference in Melbourne.
posted by Runes at 2:58 PM on July 17 [6 favorites]


The discussion of the identity of the separatist fighters reminded me of this - Recent Guardian interview of an Armenian (that's his ethnicity and citizenship) who fought for the separatists in Ukraine - he isn't pro-Russian, he's pro-Soviet Union. He recounts a major friendly fire incident (ground warfare) on his side which was covered up
posted by Bwithh at 2:58 PM on July 17


Oops jinx with Kevin on that link
posted by Bwithh at 3:00 PM on July 17


Same dude. I guess he was interviewed by a number of different publications.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:00 PM on July 17


edgeways: Parenthetically, it was a fucking joke for Russia to host this Olympics

Couldn't agree more, but I felt the same way about the US hosting them in 2002.
posted by gman at 3:01 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


And remember, in four years Russia's hosting the FIFA World Cup. That's going to be "fun".
posted by Small Dollar at 3:06 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


The Armenian guy who gave those interviews claims that many of the separatist fighters are Ingush and Chechen, which struck me as odd. Would Chechen militants really volunteer to fight for Russia, and help it bring territory under Russian control?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:07 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Parenthetically, it was a fucking joke for Russia to host this Olympics

There's a lot of protest now to them hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2018 (although a lot can change in four years).
posted by Kabanos at 3:07 PM on July 17


And the USA evidently lacked the military training and sophistication in 1988 to distinguish an Iranian Airbus 747 in Iranian airspace and on its regular flight path from a fighter jet, when it blew that aircraft out of the sky, killing 290 including 66 children. And although we did pay out cash for that event we have never apologized or admitted responsibility for that event. I am sure the USA government will soon express indignation--in the most hypocritical way--toward those who could commit such an act, ignoring our almost identical action 25 years ago.

And I am watching the NewsHour on PBS right now. Gwen Ifill is interviewing panelists and asking questions like "how does one misidentify a passenger jet for a fighter jet" and of course they are talking about the USSR event back in 1983 and nobody is mentioning our own 1988 event. Nobody. It is sureal. They are talking about how Russia has never taken responsibility for that Korean jet and how Russia handled that event badly. Absolutely amazing. Not a word about 1988. Gee Gwen, why don't you just ask the US Navy?
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 3:11 PM on July 17 [50 favorites]


There Were Multiple Warnings About The Dangers Of Flying In Ukrainian Airspace Prior To Malaysian Plane Crash
posted by helion at 3:13 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


The Armenian guy who gave those interviews claims that many of the separatist fighters are Ingush and Chechen, which struck me as odd. Would Chechen militants really volunteer to fight for Russia, and help it bring territory under Russian control?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:07 PM on July 17 [+] [!]


pro-Moscow Chechen forces : e.g. Wikipedia , FT
posted by Bwithh at 3:15 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


SZ, the situation wasn't exactly comparable. When USS Vincennes shot down the Iranian airliner, it was at battle stations because it was exchanging fire with Iranian gunboats. When they saw an aircraft lifting off from Iran and come straight for them (the flight path would have taken the jet directly over Vincennes) the commander decided it was a bomber, part of the same Iranian operation.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:15 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Also, there seems to be a decent life insurance policy benefit for their surviving families:
For each killed Russian puppet sent from Chechnya to Ukraine, invaders paid $ 85,000 to parents
posted by Kabanos at 3:18 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


But how would they know how to operate it?

We have our answer, now, don't we? Hey, Alexei, what happens if I hit this button here?

Sickening incident. Countdown to John McCain insisting we invade the Caucasus and bomb the Kremlin in 5, 4, 3, 2 . . . .
posted by spitbull at 3:18 PM on July 17


CP: It does kinda call in to question the idea that it's trivial to tell the difference between a commercial jetliner and a cargo/military plane, though. Because the USS Vincennes sure couldn't do it.
posted by Justinian at 3:19 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Would Chechen militants really volunteer to fight for Russia, and help it bring territory under Russian control?

The North Caucasus conflicts of the 2000s were a bloody mess. As the independence movements radicalized and transformed into a Jihadist insurgency more interested in Salafi ideological purity than on the preservation of the Chechen nation against Russian imperialism, and as their tactics became more and more suicidal while the Russian showed their will to keep the territory whatever the cost may be, many Chechen and Ingush made the choice to compromise and to display loyalty to Putin. Warlords and clan leaders that had led the insurgency became enforcers of Russian power, most notably Ramzan Kadyrov, and they were lavishly rewarded. There is no love lost, but realistic (or cynical) calculations, on both sides.

Then you have to imagine what kind of lives these men have led for the past 20 years. They have known only war, and it is the primary means they know of making a living, for themselves and their families. Being mercenaries for Russia in Ukraine may actually be better than doing the same job at home, against their neighbors. Blood feuds are still pretty much a thing in the North Caucasus, and many men are fleeing retribution from local enemies, or at least wish to avoid creating new ones: enlisting in the Donbass insurgency can actually appear less dangerous than staying home, and offers more potential rewards.
posted by susuman at 3:23 PM on July 17 [11 favorites]


the situation wasn't exactly comparable

If the question is "how does one mistake a passenger jet for a fighter jet" our own 1988 event is a relevant example of how that might happen. To not mention it at all in the discussion that just took place on the NewsHour seems like an attempt to ignore our own history and experience.

From wikipedia: the (Iranian) airliner was making IFF squawks in Mode III (not Mode II used by Iranian military planes), a signal that identified it as a civilian craft, and operators of Vincennes mistook for Mode II.[4] According to the United States Government, the crew incorrectly identified the Iranian Airbus A300 as an attacking F-14 Tomcat fighter (a plane made in the United States and operated at that time by only two forces worldwide, the United States Navy and the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 3:23 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Statement by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Raza. (Link goes to all Malaysia Airlines official statements about MH17)
posted by helloknitty at 3:31 PM on July 17


.
posted by greenish at 3:33 PM on July 17


There Were Multiple Warnings About The Dangers Of Flying In Ukrainian Airspace Prior To Malaysian Plane Crash

They should probably just shut the airline down at this point. They don't seem to know what they're doing.
posted by empath at 3:33 PM on July 17


Small Dollar: “And remember, in four years Russia's hosting the FIFA World Cup. That's going to be "fun".”
The Russian Grand Prix is in 12 weeks.
posted by ob1quixote at 3:33 PM on July 17


It's not clear to me if Malaysia, Ukraine, or the European ATC consortium has lead on the investigation.

Per ICAO protocol, the country where the wreckage is located will open the investigation. Parties will include the airline's country, country of manufacture (US), country of engine manufacture sometimes, and I believe the flight's origin or destination countries.
posted by kiltedtaco at 3:33 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


The Vincennes incident is certainly relevant, but it is a kind of a mess to introduce because there is still a lot of contention over what exactly happened. The Wikipedia page doesn't even try, and just lists both the US and Iranian accounts.
posted by smackfu at 3:34 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


@MajorCBS: Key nugget frm WH readout of POTUS-Poroshenko call - both "emphasized that all evidence must remain in place on the territory of Ukraine."
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:35 PM on July 17


I expect the EU to respond by sending a firmly worded diplomatic note. Perhaps combined with a back channel plea to keep sending natural gas.
posted by Area Man at 3:36 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


The destruction of Iran Air Flight 655 was a horrible fuckup that should never have happened, for many reasons, but the context there was significantly different from the current incident. The Vincennes did try to warn the aircraft several times, but the Americans didn't know how to talk to the Iranian jet and the Iranians didn't even know they were in danger.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:37 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Per ICAO protocol, the country where the wreckage is located will open the investigation.

But in this case the territory is disputed. Isn't Russia claiming it as Russian territory?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:38 PM on July 17


Neither Ukraine nor Russia should be heading this investigation since they both have serious conflicts of interest.
posted by Justinian at 3:44 PM on July 17


They don't seem to know what they're doing.

As noted a couple of times above, the plan was in open airspace at the time. From Eurocontrol, the organization that coordinates air traffic control in Europe, including Ukraine:

"... the aircraft was flying at Flight Level 330 (approximately 10,000 metres/33,000 feet) when it disappeared from the radar. This route had been closed by the Ukrainian authorities from ground to flight level 320 but was open at the level at which the aircraft was flying. Since the crash, the Ukrainian authorities have informed EUROCONTROL of the closure of routes from the ground to unlimited in Eastern Ukraine (Dnipropetrovsk Flight Information Region). All flight plans that are filed using these routes are now being rejected by EUROCONTROL. The routes will remain closed until further notice." (source)
posted by effbot at 3:47 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


Regarding IFF squacks in Mode II versus Mode III, this is another case where you have to look at the context: Iran had already demonstrated thoroughly that it didn't feel any need to comply with international norms, for instance by not treating foreign embassies as sovereign territory (which, technically, they are). This was only 9 years after the US Embassy was taken over and our diplomatic personnel were held hostage.

Also, the gun battle was taking place in international waters, where technically the Iranians had no more rights than anyone else.

Changing a fighter jet's IFF mode from III to II was just the kind of thing they might have been expected to do, if it had actually been an attacker.

Combat is a confusing situation and you have to make snap judgements. In this case the judgement was catastrophically wrong, but as the events were taking place it wasn't at all clear cut what was happening. It could have been an attacker. The captain of Vincennes decided he couldn't risk it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:49 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


There Were Multiple Warnings About The Dangers Of Flying In Ukrainian Airspace Prior To Malaysian Plane Crash

That sure is a terrible article. One of the warnings was about Crimea from 3 months ago, which is nowhere near where the crash happened. And the closing of civilian airspace excluded aircraft in transit above 29000 ft.
posted by smackfu at 3:49 PM on July 17 [10 favorites]


Runes: "According to this (and corroborated by this) there were a lot of AIDS researchers, activists, etc on the flight heading to a conference in Melbourne."

I've been fearing this since I first heard the news this morning. The International AIDS Conference starts in a couple of days in Melbourne, and there are lots of pre-conferences that people go to, so the timing made sense. So far, no one that I know, but Joep Lange is apparently confirmed as one of the passengers.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:51 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Locals: Russian forces are moving incriminating BUK AA system (capable of shooting down #MH17 jet) away from #Ukraine towards Russian border
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:51 PM on July 17


Iran had already demonstrated thoroughly that it didn't feel any need to comply with international norms

I don't think, when it comes to Iran, Americans have many legs to stand on when it comes to respecting international norms and not interfering with sovereign governments...
posted by Jimbob at 3:59 PM on July 17 [15 favorites]


Flight MH17: What the Wreckage Is Already Revealing
posted by cendawanita at 4:04 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


.
posted by homunculus at 4:07 PM on July 17


Can we quit with the Vincennes/Iran derail?
posted by Runes at 4:12 PM on July 17 [5 favorites]


.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 4:13 PM on July 17


That sure is a terrible article.

Well, yeah. Business Insider, despite its high-falutin' name, is a clickbait enterprise. I guarantee that none of the three (!) people who worked on that article has any aviation experience, or understood that altitude should be taken into account.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:14 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Would Chechen militants really volunteer to fight for Russia, and help it bring territory under Russian control?

Would Indian soldiers really volunteer to fight for the British Empire? Really, the situation is quite similar. The current Chechen president, son of Kadyrov, is essentially a bought-and-paid-for vassal. Grozny, once a city of rubble, now boasts gleaming skyscrapers and a pristine mosque named for the elder Kadyrov, an investment of billions.

But in this case the territory is disputed. Isn't Russia claiming it as Russian territory?

Russia has annexed the Crimea, to be sure, and is now de facto acting as if it is a fully recognized part of Russia (and was all along). The situation in the Donbass is much less overt and in fact Russia has chosen to at least appear to respect the international border, moving troops and equipment up to but not into Ukraine, and indeed, Putin has claimed today that the accident is in Ukrainian territory and therefore Kiev's responsibility. The separatists (signature chant: Rossiya!) obviously desire to follow Crimea's lead, but Moscow has been too circumspect to fully back those claims. I and others have always believed this is less about invading/annexing parts of Ukraine, which are even more impoverished than parts of Russia, than it is about harassing and de-legitimizing the government in Kiev. So, no, this is not disputed territory, unless you're a rebel, in which case you send the black box to your notional national capital, Moscow (if that has happened).
posted by dhartung at 4:17 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


This is an NYT article describing what rescuers found at the crash scene. Warning - no graphic photos, but the text is really disturbing: At the Scene, a Bitter Smell and Crumpled Bodies
posted by Kevin Street at 4:18 PM on July 17


Posted 4 minutes after plane shot down by Russian Lifenews #MalaysiaAirlines Nothing to add. #russia

The rebels reported shooting down AN-26 plane in eastern Ukraine.
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:29 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Per ICAO protocol, the country where the wreckage is located will open the investigation.

But in this case the territory is disputed. Isn't Russia claiming it as Russian territory?


Russia doesn't claim this territory.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:38 PM on July 17


Re: HIV researchers on the flight on their way to the international conference: fuck fuck fuck fuck.
posted by Sophie1 at 4:43 PM on July 17 [11 favorites]


Why are people making excuses for military exercises that shoot down passenger flights? You don't need to justify it, civilians know "mistakes were made". We know what that phrase means. They are all here in memoriam and we add another to the list.
posted by vicx at 4:44 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Per ICAO protocol, the country where the wreckage is located will open the investigation.

But in this case the territory is disputed. Isn't Russia claiming it as Russian territory?

Russia doesn't claim this territory.

Novorossiya
On April 17, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin used the term during his annual call-in show for residents of the Russian Federation, in connection to Novorossiya administrative area (Russian: Новороссийская область) that existed during Russian Empire and after that in civil war from 1919 until it was given in a march of 1920 to Ukrainian Soviet Republic and was never before part of Ukraine.[9][10][11] Putin admits Crimea troops were his, calls east Ukraine 'new Russia'.[12] Protesters in eastern Ukraine also used the term for south and east ("South-East") of Ukraine.[8][9] Polish defense minister Tomasz Siemoniak worried that Putin might be pursuing a new doctrine aimed at a recreation of the Soviet Union as "New Russia".[13] Putin's definition of Novorossiya, however, was historically inaccurate in that it conflicted with and was more expansive than the original definition; he seemed to include the cities of Kharkiv and Luhans'k in his definition of "Novorossiya," while they were never part of its original territory. Also, he claimed during the call-in show that "only God knows" why Novorossiya was incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR in 1922.

On 24 May 2014, a day before the Ukrainian presidential elections, the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic signed a document announcing their intention to unite as the Union of Peoples Republics also referred to as the Union of Novorossiya, the Novorossiya Union or simply as Novorossiya. This would not constitute a single state immediately as the two republics would continue to function as two independent/ autonomous republics until practical issues of everyday government were resolved. They also invited other regions of South Eastern Ukraine to join Novorossiya in the future.[14]
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:44 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Web evidence points to pro-Russia rebels in downing of MH17

posted by KokuRyu at 4:47 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


But presumably, having the capability to successfully down a plane with such a system would ALSO mean you had the capability to know better, that is, to properly identify a civilian aircraft.

Some time ago I came across a video of some guys playing around with a flight simulator that faithfully modelled all the fairly complicated-looking controls of a military fighter jet. Yeah, it was this A-10C; they get it off the simulated ground after about 40 minutes. Nobody would be able to make much use of it without at least a few days of training, or some luck and some weeks of probably dangerous trial and error. Not that the aircraft necessarily has much else in common with a surface-to-air missile system, but they do both launch missiles. From the looks of it I would guess the older version of the BUK might have the less complicated targeting system. Unlikely there'd be a similar youtube video for it, but it's plausible to me that someone with a bit of experience operating complicated machines could quickly learn enough to get them to launch missiles without learning any of the nuances of target identification. It wouldn't be too hard to get started if they had some knowledgeable friends in the Russian military to ask for advice.

So it seems to me that there could exist a level of inadequate training that would give someone the capability to shoot down a defenseless aircraft, without the capability to know what the hell they were doing beyond that. Not that it couldn't just as well be a disastrous miscalculation from someone who was properly trained in a regular army of some unidentified country.
posted by sfenders at 5:04 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Expect tons and tons of disinformation on this.

I'm starting early by disbelieving everything I've heard about this so far.
posted by telstar at 5:27 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Golden Eternity, there's a difference between an invitation and annexation. That is basically Putin having a glorious time having it both ways, both for external (pro-Russian separatists) and internal (jingoist) consumption, not to mention making Kiev nervous. A month ago, before the UKR military was having any success, it was pretty cheeky and rattling, but at this point it's clear that Moscow will not actually risk a further break with the West by overtly moving in troops. It's a big sell-out and not all the rebels have realized this yet.

it's plausible to me that someone with a bit of experience operating complicated machines could quickly learn enough to get them to launch missiles

It's also entirely plausible that individuals who have already had this training on the real thing are now in the ranks of the separatists. I don't think we need to bring in this canard of how they could have learned how to operate the damned thing when not only are obvious veterans of various Russian adventures openly mustering with the separatists, but dissident pro-Russian members of Ukraine's own military have taken up arms against it. Occam's Razor, really. When the guys in Sloviansk took over some Ukrainian APCs the first thing they did was tool around town in them doing donuts like they were pros.

a disastrous miscalculation from someone who was properly trained

I feel the problem here may have been that a system like the Buk presumes a level of logistical support including communications and command and control that just wasn't present amongst these guerrillas.
posted by dhartung at 5:32 PM on July 17 [12 favorites]


.
posted by travelwithcats at 5:34 PM on July 17


At least 3 of my co-workers and many, many of my colleagues are on their way to the IAS in Melbourne. I don't want to go in to work tomorrow morning. I was sick over this before, now I am just speechless.
posted by Sophie1 at 5:38 PM on July 17 [5 favorites]


Sophie1, all the names I've heard so far are Dutch.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:43 PM on July 17


Buzzfeed has two names in its round-up of the IAS aspect of the crash: Joep Lange^, and Glenn Thomas, a media rep with WHO.
posted by dhartung at 5:54 PM on July 17


Apparently a number of people were on their way to the 2014 AIDS Conference. :(
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:03 PM on July 17


A friend is heading to the conference from Singapore - apparently they booked scholarship receipients on MAS flights.  
posted by divabat at 6:09 PM on July 17


My cursory understanding of the Buk is that these systems are not sophisticated enough to be tied in to any sort of overall/national radar or C2 (Command & Control) system. Instead, they rely on a local radar for target tracking and detection. The Buk battery includes three components, all vehicle mounted: a 9S18M1 Target Acquisition Radar, a 9S470M1 Command Post, and one or more A310M1S launchers, each with 4 radar-guided missiles. They also have their own IFF (Identification, Friend, Foe) system, but it's not sophisticated enough to do anything but basically yell "hey, you friendly?" at an aircraft.

It doesn't seem too far-fetched that the system used was being operated by former military or well-trained former conscripts, but that they just couldn't tell that it was a commercial jet rather than a military one. To me, it seems plausible that they thought they shot down a Ukrainian fighter jet or supply aircraft, hence the FB post from Girkin/Strelkov. Then when they realized that they had shot down a passenger plane, they freaked out and are now trying to cover it up.

In some ways, that just makes it all worse I think. So many people paying for a case of mistaken identity... No matter what happened, though, it's just horrendous all around.
posted by gemmy at 6:09 PM on July 17 [6 favorites]


Gingerbeer - where are you seeing names? Other than Joep and Glenn Thomas, I haven't heard any.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:10 PM on July 17


Maddow also more interested in relitigating 1988 shootdown than reporting today's news. Very weird.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:14 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Copied from a friend:
Mr. Pim de Kuijer on staff with STOP AIDS NOW and Ms. Martine de Schutter, Programme Manager,Bridging the Gaps at Aids Fonds, Netherlands were on the plane unfortunately.

Heading for Australia, Dr. Joep Lange, clinical researcher Professor of Medicine at the Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam; and Jacqueline van Tongeren, with ArtAids, Director of Communications of the Center for Poverty-related Communicable Diseases (CPCD), Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam active with AIDS issues since 1986, and Dr. Lucie van Mens, Director of Program Development and Support,

Unfortunately, we must add Mr. Ton Coenen, executive director of Aids Fonds and STI AIDS Netherlands since 2004, a board member of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Ton was also a passenger on this flight.The Female Health Company, were also on the plane."
posted by gingerbeer at 6:15 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


That's an extremely unfair characterization, Ironmouth. She's simply going over previous incidents in which commercial planes were shot down. The 1988 shootdown was one among many she is speaking about.
posted by Justinian at 6:16 PM on July 17 [6 favorites]


Thank you gingerbeer. I appreciate it.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:17 PM on July 17


And, frankly, it's kind of an insulting characterization. This Maddow segment is probably the single best one I've seen today on the incident. She's doing an in depth look at past cases and the current Ukraine conflict. She's providing information and, importantly, context which is something very sadly lacking in most of what passes for television news. I suppose you'd prefer yet more unqualified talking head experts giving out-of-their-ass opinions which will prove outdated mere minutes after they speak.
posted by Justinian at 6:21 PM on July 17 [31 favorites]


This is a major fuck-up

Welcome to the history of the human race. Sickening.
posted by Twang at 6:34 PM on July 17


Please try to go easy on each other.
posted by um at 6:38 PM on July 17 [5 favorites]


Ukrainians lay thousands of flowers at the Dutch embassy in Kiev
posted by gwint at 6:50 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Flowers..
posted by stbalbach at 6:55 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I don't think "silver lining" is the right word for those Ukrainians laying flowers at the Dutch embassy, but it's the best piece of news I've heard about this incident so far. (I was going to say it was a "classy move" on their part, but that phrase seemed too cheap. It was a good, human thing to do.)
posted by uosuaq at 7:08 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


change.org: Stop Calling Russian Agents "Pro-Russian Separatists" or "Rebels" - Report Responsibly!
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:08 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


.
posted by koucha at 7:29 PM on July 17


Maybe we could compromise on "pro-Russian separatist/rebels who just happen to have access to advanced technology only the Russian army could have, but hey, who knows what's available on craigslist.ru these days"?
Or yeah, I guess being straightforward with the obvious truth would be another option. Seems less objective, though, somehow.
posted by uosuaq at 7:40 PM on July 17


Well, I guess the other part of it is that a lot of people in eastern Ukraine do sympathize with the "separatists." How many is probably hard to tell.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:41 PM on July 17


Unconfirmed but one of the major Australian newspapers The Australian ( which I don't know how reliable it is reputed to be but it's not a tabloid at least, I think) is saying that it is believed that 108 of the victims on MH17 were heading to the AIDS2014 conference in Melbourne as attendees or accompanying family members.
posted by Bwithh at 7:45 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


.

Very sad news today. The victims and their families are in my thoughts.
posted by ageispolis at 7:48 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Unconfirmed but one of the major Australian newspapers The Australian ( which I don't know how reliable it is reputed to be but it's not a tabloid at least, I think)

The Australian is, actually, a piece of shit newspaper, but on this kind of issue it's probably fairly believable.
posted by Jimbob at 7:48 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I got her point eventually, which was separatist denials follow pattern of later admittance. Kind of a hinky way of going about it.

But we also learned that Reagan did apologize.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:56 PM on July 17


The marginally less shitty major Melbourne newspaper, The Age, reports "about 100". (I strongly suspect that both papers will be getting their information from conference PR.)
posted by gingerest at 8:04 PM on July 17


UN Security Council Sets Urgent Meeting on Ukraine
Britain's U.N. Mission said Thursday it requested the meeting and later tweeted that it is set for 10 a.m. Friday.
...

Britain proposed a Security Council press statement calling for "a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident."
...

The White House in a statement released late Thursday also called for a "full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation" as soon as possible.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:12 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


School starts again next week in many Australian states. It's likely that there were families coming home from holidays.
posted by kjs4 at 8:24 PM on July 17


Article from Crikey's "Aviation Reporter" saying Malaysian Airlines, and Singapore Airlines were flying across the Ukraine to save fuel, when most other carriers have been avoiding it. The article is a bit breathless, but it does raise some fair points.
posted by Jimbob at 8:38 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


FWIW, James Fallows, the veteran journalist for The Atlantic Monthly in the US who has written deeply on aviation issues for ages, is defending Malaysian Airlines on Twitter re: the flight route issue. He says the route was OK'd by governing authorities so not MA's fault
posted by Bwithh at 8:58 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Indian press is saying that Indian Prime Minister Modi's plane was 1 hour behind MH17 on the same flight route
posted by Bwithh at 9:05 PM on July 17


As terrible as this incident is, the idea that somebody could have shot Modi out of the sky is an order of magnitude worse as nightmare fuel.
posted by immlass at 9:07 PM on July 17 [9 favorites]


80 children vs. some politicians? I dunno.
posted by Behemoth at 9:11 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Looking at the map embedded here, you'd be hard-pressed to fly from Schiphol to Oceania without passing over a war zone.
posted by gingerest at 9:11 PM on July 17


Behemoth - Certainly as a human being in and of himself, Modi's worth is exactly the same as the worth of any one of the 80 children.

But Modi's plane being shot down could very likely lead to situations where many, many more than 80 children would die, and adults as well. It wouldn't take a whole lot to spark serious conflict, given the tensions that already exist within India, as well as India/Pakistan and the Kashmir dispute.
posted by Chanther at 9:19 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Hey, here's an idea, how about we not bother with the "who we wish was on a plane that got shot down" game?
posted by tonycpsu at 9:25 PM on July 17 [16 favorites]


I wish Putin and the person who shot the missle were on the plane.
posted by mazola at 9:33 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


At this point I am amazed by how much Putin's behavior resembles some kind of Unbelievable Soviet Enemy from any political thriller of the Cold War. If not for the fact that what he perpetrates is very real and very horrible, he'd be a ridiculous caricature of a Bond villain. The things he does and says make no fucking sense, nobody would believe him as a fictional character, and yet... there he is blaming Kiev for this.
posted by cmyk at 9:39 PM on July 17 [8 favorites]


I could really do without this discussion of whose murder would be better or worse. I live in Melbourne, know people attending the conference, know people who've flown Schiphol to KL on MA. It feels very personal (although to the best of my knowledge I didn't know anyone on MH17), and the "what if someone more/less important had been killed" game is hurtful.
posted by gingerest at 9:39 PM on July 17 [18 favorites]


NYT maps show some airlines completely avoiding area in question before incident , others going right over it. If MA is at fault ( not saying it is), then other major airlines did the same thing.
posted by Bwithh at 9:43 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


The “black box” from the airplane traveled to Moscow “for investigation,” Russian radio station Kommersant FM reported.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:44 PM on July 17


I primarily thought the Modi story was relevant re: the "is Malaysian Airlines to blame for picking an unsafe route" question.
posted by Bwithh at 9:46 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


It's also Eid/Hari Raya very soon, so there were likely many families reuniting, including international students.

(I keep wanting to start a fundraiser for these families but have no idea where to even begin)
posted by divabat at 9:56 PM on July 17


Horrible. Just horrible. I find it deeply embittering to see fellow civilian-murdering entities like the US government pretend to have a leg to stand on in their outrage, but that doesn't make the act itself less outrageous or tragic.

.
posted by threeants at 9:57 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


There seems to be a subtext in this thread that somehow the United States is in some kind of position of moral authority from which to judge the actions of the separatists and/or Putin. Given recent history this proposition is dubious at best. It would seem to me that both Russia and the U.S. share some responsibility for this horrible tragedy as both have been supporting their respective proxies on both sides of the civil war. Granted, the ultimate responsibility for this mass murder lies directly with the commander who gave the order to fire.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:07 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


Who flies over active war zones with irregular troops in possession of SAMs shooting down planes?

> the route was OK'd by governing authorities

Autopilot is great.
posted by stbalbach at 10:19 PM on July 17


This was the second item on the news tonight after the land war starting in Gaza.

295 people, blown out of the sky. Thousands of people who loved them, their lives torn apart.

For what? Nothing. More senseless death.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:26 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


There seems to be a subtext in this thread that somehow the United States is in some kind of position of moral authority from which to judge the actions of the separatists and/or Putin.

Besides the posts quoting statements of US administration officials condemning the shoot-down (what do you expect them to say?) I don't see that subtext present in this thread at all.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 10:42 PM on July 17 [7 favorites]


Pretty sure nobody here has used this to absolve the US of anything

Does anybody know yet if the plane went directly down or was in some form of controlled flight? Some of the footage from the crash site looks like a definite furrow in the ground.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:20 AM on July 18


It was blown apart in the air, and the wreckage fell across a wide area.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:47 AM on July 18


Does anybody know yet if the plane went directly down or was in some form of controlled flight? Some of the footage from the crash site looks like a definite furrow in the ground.

Witnesses describe the plane breaking apart in the air ("Everything rained down in bits and pieces", journalist Noah Sneider tells CNN, quoting a witness who says the plane exploded in mid-air [link]), and apparently the spread of the debris is large enough to be consistent with that ("Debris was spread out for kilometres" [link]).

The “black box” from the airplane traveled to Moscow “for investigation,” Russian radio station Kommersant FM reported.

Guardian Liveblog is saying Ukranian rescue workers found the black box, not pro-Russian rebels. Presumably the Ukranians wouldn't send it to Moscow?

Interesting map comparison of Malaysian Airlines routes over Europe vs British Airways.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:48 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Guardian Liveblog is saying Ukranian rescue workers found the black box, not pro-Russian rebels. Presumably the Ukranians wouldn't send it to Moscow?

Then again the Ukranian authorities say the crash site is controlled by pro-Russian rebels so who knows what happened to the box after it was found.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:50 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Who flies over active war zones with irregular troops in possession of SAMs shooting down planes?

Sounds a bit like victim blaming to me. Who the fuck fires SAM missiles at civillian passenger jets is surely the more reasonable question to ask.
posted by Jimbob at 1:02 AM on July 18 [9 favorites]


Sounds a bit like victim blaming to me.

The victims are the people on the plane, not the people working for the airline who plan the routes. I think the blame lies with the latter.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:06 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


The Guardian has a video of a few pieced together videos of captured conversations with translations here.
posted by Admira at 1:08 AM on July 18


I think the blame lies with the latter.

The blame lies with a desk-jockey in KL, not the millitant who fired the SAM? Gotcha.
posted by Jimbob at 1:13 AM on July 18 [17 favorites]


Not to be morbid, but I want to think that the passengers never knew what hit them. If it was a Buk missile and it blew apart the fuselage at 33,000 feet, wouldn't that mean instant death or prolonged unconsciousness for everyone on board? An anti-aircraft missile strike from a Buk would firstly deliver a fierce explosion to the fuselage with devastating blast force and shrapnel after-blast; and, at the same time expose everyone to unpressurized atmosphere. I don't see anyone surviving that scenario. Death and/or prolonged unconsciousness would be instantaneous. Anyone have any ideas about this?
posted by Vibrissae at 1:14 AM on July 18


Sorry to bear bad news, but Pan Am 103 was destroyed at a similar height and there is evidence that at least some of the passengers died on the ground. That they knew and suffered is the truth, however horrific.
posted by Thing at 1:21 AM on July 18


Pan Am 103 was broken into large pieces by a bomb, not blown up by a surface-to-air missile. There is no evidence that anyone was alive on the groiund here. I don't think you should speculate about whether the victims were conscious until there's been a bit more investigation.
posted by gingerest at 1:27 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


The blame lies with a desk-jockey in KL, not the millitant who fired the SAM? Gotcha.

I was defending the position of laying some blame with the airline (which was incorrectly described as "victim blaming" - the airline was not the victim, the passengers and crew were), not saying that the missile-firer wasn't at fault. Clearly the SAM operator shouldn't have shot down a civilian plane, but also a civilian airline shouldn't route through an area with active anti-air combat operations. As an example, some airlines were already voluntarily completely avoiding Ukrainian airspace.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:44 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


And most weren't because the decision was made, not by the airline but by wider European air traffic control, that the situation was safe above 32,000 ft.
posted by Jimbob at 1:49 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]


If the speed limit is 50, I'm going to assume it is safe to drive 50. If the airline is told they can fly above 32000 feet, they are going to assume it is safe to fly above 32000 feet.
posted by Pendragon at 1:50 AM on July 18 [6 favorites]


Sorry, earlier on the BBC link I just linked were claims 16 out of 17 asia-pacific airlines were flying though that airapace. Now I can't find it.
posted by Jimbob at 1:51 AM on July 18


If the speed limit is 50, I'm going to assume it is safe to drive 50. If the airline is told they can fly above 32000 feet, they are going to assume it is safe to fly above 32000 feet.

If someone tells me I can drive through a minefield because it's safe if you go a certain route, I'll take the longer route that avoids the minefield completely thanks.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:53 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


The risk assessment of where it's safe to fly is complex. National regulators, airlines and pilots are all part of the equation. But in general, if you're a pilot you follow NOTAMS (Notice To Airmen), which are bulletins provided by various agencies that cover variations from published limitations - normally stuff like unusual conditions at your destination airport, en-route dangers or closed airspace, etc. You check those relevant to your flight before you submit your flight plan.

If a NOTAM says that an area is safe, then that's the best information you have - and your airline will expect you to act accordingly. I don't think there were any NOTAMs closing upper air space over Eastern Ukraine at the time, and given there was no reason to think that anyone would be popping off SAM-11s, I don't think that was an unreasonable risk assessment. The regulators and airlines take their lead in such matters from national security services - they do not have independent sources of information on conflict zones - and it's only fair to say that they made a bad judgement if they had been warned of problems via a reliable source and ignored it.

That lower flight levels were closed shows that they were responsive to conditions as reported. The system was working, but it isn't omniscient or prescient.
posted by Devonian at 2:13 AM on July 18 [26 favorites]


What was the situation of airlines flying over Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia during the civil war there?
posted by PenDevil at 2:19 AM on July 18


I was at a pre-conference event here in Melbourne for the International AIDS Conference last night. Several people mentioned that a whole contingent of attendees were flying over from Europe right then.

I am heartbroken. Friends who work in AIDS research are saying that this will set us back by years. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
posted by third word on a random page at 2:22 AM on July 18 [34 favorites]


third word on a random page, I'm so sorry for your - and all of our collective - loss.
posted by harujion at 3:01 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


If someone tells me I can drive through a minefield because it's safe if you go a certain route, I'll take the longer route that avoids the minefield completely thanks.

Don't you know driving is one of the most dangerous things you can do? You should choose to not drive at all, otherwise if you have an accident you had it coming.

See? That reasoning never ends. The area was officially safe. You can't fault the airline for not guessing that this time the guidelines they have been following for decades are wrong. Hindsight is 20-20.
posted by Tarumba at 3:04 AM on July 18 [29 favorites]


Malaysian Prime Minister's step-grandmother reported to have been on MH17
posted by Bwithh at 3:14 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


>Friends who work in AIDS research are saying that this will set us back by years.

That was being reported on the BBC this morning, with a heartbreaking interview with a conference attendee who had been waiting for his colleague on that flight. They'd been together since training, and were just starting their careers in Holland when AIDS first appeared.

War is the enemy of us all, wherever it is and whoever we are.
posted by Devonian at 3:21 AM on July 18 [10 favorites]


'[Australian woman] Kaylene Mann lost her brother Rod Burrows and her sister-in-law Mary when MH370 mysteriously disappeared in March this year. Her step-daughter Maree Rizk and her husband Albert, from Sunbury near Melbourne, were among the Australians on flight MH17' (source).

Words fail me.
posted by brushtailedphascogale at 4:05 AM on July 18 [19 favorites]


Read on the soccer sub-reddit that a few Newcastle United fans were on the flight who were on their way to NZ to follow Newcastle's pre-season tour, including one guy affectionately called "The Undertaker" because he wore a suit to every game and had only missed a single match since 1973.
posted by PenDevil at 4:11 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


These comments about the people on the flight, like the two above, are so important. It can be hard to think of a disaster like this in terms of real, individual people sometimes. Hurts my heart so much reading them though.
posted by greenish at 4:16 AM on July 18 [17 favorites]


Watch oil futures in the EU tomorrow morning.

The reaction shows up most clearly in wheat futures (yesterday), wheat being something Ukraine produces lots of. But it's not a big enough move to make any great difference to a long-term chart. This event will likely not have much effect on the course of the war. Politicians might use it as an excuse to do whatever they wanted to do anyway. It might help turn local public opinion in eastern Ukraine further against the Russians, if the continued fighting hasn't already done all that death and destruction can do in that respect.
posted by sfenders at 5:30 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


With regard to the altitude being safe, 32,000 feet is safe from the kind of portable shoulder-mounted SAMs which are relatively easy for untrained n00bs to point and fire. The general reasoning would be that more complex and powerful systems capable of targeting higher altitudes would be operated by trained personnel who are likely to know the difference between a commercial airliner and a warplane and target accordingly.

OOPS.
posted by localroger at 5:50 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


I do AIDS research. I've been trying to find a list of AIDS researchers aboard the flight. Has anyone found one? Or is there a list of victims? I know Jaap Goudsmit (albeit, not that well). He has been one of the best AIDS researchers for over twenty years. (Netherlands has several of the best.)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:13 AM on July 18


New statement from Malaysia Airlines:

"1. Flight plan

MH17’s flight plan was approved by Eurocontrol, who are solely responsible for determining civil aircraft flight paths over European airspace.
[....]

2. Altitude

MH17 filed a flight plan requesting to fly at 35,000ft throughout Ukrainian airspace. This is close to the ‘optimum’ altitude.

However, an aircraft’s altitude in flight is determined by air traffic control on the ground. Upon entering Ukrainian airspace, MH17 was instructed by Ukrainian air traffic control to fly at 33,000ft.

3. Nationalities

Following this afternoon’s press conference, Malaysia Airlines can confirm that a further 16 passengers’ nationalities have been verified. The latest breakdown of nationalities of those on board the flight is as follows:

189 Netherlands, 44 Malaysia, 27 Australia, 12 Indonesia, 9 UK, 4 Belgium, 4 Germany, 3 Philippines, 1 Canada, 1 New Zealand

Four passengers’ nationalities remain to be verified.
[...]"
posted by travelwithcats at 6:17 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Or is there a list of victims?

Not yet, the airline will issue the manifest as soon as all next of kin have been notified.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:18 AM on July 18


Thanks again to all for contributing to the topic, Metafilter continues to be one of the most reliable and informative places to go in these breaking-news-disaster-stories. Does anyone have a concise update (or link) to new developments in the last 6-8 hours? Also wondering if there's a good guess for how long to expect before they ID the culprits...is this is an any-second-now type deal or should be waiting days/weeks before more concrete information emerges?
posted by JJ987E at 6:33 AM on July 18


JJ987E, the Guardian has a good summary on their live updates page here -- scroll down to about an hour and a half ago.
posted by sldownard at 6:37 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Odd, the Guardian reports that:

"Malaysia has released a new breakdown of the nationalities of the passengers on board. Here are the details:

Netherlands: 189
Malaysia: 44 (including 15 crew and two infants)
Australia: 28
Indonesia: 12 (including one infant)
United Kingdom: 9
Germany: 4
Belgium: 4
Philippines: 3
Canada: 1
New Zealand: 1
Hong Kong: 1
Unconfirmed nationalities: 18
"

That would be over 300 passengers - where did they get this from?
posted by travelwithcats at 6:40 AM on July 18


Josh Marshall, at Talking Points Memo:
Europe and even America never cared that much about Crimea. It is difficult to dislodge an annexation when a majority of the population likely really did support it. And the Europeans, as long as the big red lines weren't being crossed, are too tied to Russian fuels and their myriad other concerns to care that much about mischief on Ukraine's eastern border. But having a passenger plane, filled with EU citizens, shot out of the sky above what is presumed to be the bubble of first world safety that is "Europe" is a game changing event not only in the Ukraine crisis but much more broadly about Putin's role in Europe generally.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:43 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


I haven't heard about any other researchers, dances_with_sneetches, but there are media reports that Glenn Thomas, a WHO spokesperson, and lobbyists Pim de Kuijer and Martine de Schutter were on the plane. I imagine that other names will come out today.

It's a tragedy no matter what, but the loss of AIDS researchers and advocates really compounds it.
That would be over 300 passengers - where did they get this from?
They're double-counting dual citizens, maybe?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:44 AM on July 18


The number of unconfirmed nationalities is 4, not 18.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:44 AM on July 18


I expect little change on the bigger picture. Germany has called for serious study while it seems France and Italy are also content to wait. The US seems reluctanct to lead without the support or partnership of the major Euorpean states. I expect some additional sanctions and maybe some weapons or advisors to Ukraine but I don't see any adjustment like Josh Marshall suggests.
posted by shothotbot at 6:46 AM on July 18


Yes, the MAS website lists 4 as unconfirmed (as linked upthread), but the Guardian reports 18. I found it odd and pointed it out.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:47 AM on July 18


I still maintain its the Germans who matter most. The US can do all the Sabre rattling it wants, but its only the Germans who can actually damage Russia and Putin with their sanctions/actions.
posted by JPD at 6:48 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]


Obama going on at 11:30 in the briefing room.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:51 AM on July 18


Also wondering if there's a good guess for how long to expect before they ID the culprits

CNN reporting US concluding separatists did it.

I suspect Obama will have something to say today.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:52 AM on July 18


Looking at the various airline companies' flight paths over the area that the NYT published, I can't help but wonder whether the British and French intelligence authorities knew something they didn't tell the Dutch and Germans. I wonder what made Air France and British Airways judge the situation so differently than KLM and Lufthansa.
posted by AwkwardPause at 6:53 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


so, uh, sorry if wild speculation, but with Putin blaming Ukraine, does this tend to make the EU welcoming of Ukraine and vice-versa? Beyond the horror of the plane being shot out of the sky, could that be the international danger?

i guess I'm flipping between sadness for the loss of life and worry that Putin is a crazy fucker who could escalate this.
posted by angrycat at 6:54 AM on July 18


sorry, just read the linked Josh Marshall piece, which addressed my question. not that i'm any less worried
posted by angrycat at 6:57 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I expect little change on the bigger picture

Compare the German reaction to that of Australia, or Canada, for example. Not much is going to change.
posted by aramaic at 6:59 AM on July 18


Not yet, the airline will issue the manifest as soon as all next of kin have been notified.

Out of curiosity, how does an airline actually go about doing this? I have taken several hundred airline flights in my lifetime and no airline has ever asked me for an emergency contact. My first thought is that the airline would contact the consulates/embassies, but I cannot recall that my federal government has any listing of whom to contact (for me at least), short of the maybe-accurate, maybe-not profile generated by public records. I have several friends who have a living parent they have not spoken to in decades, and if I had been in a plane crash two years ago, it is odd to think that an airline might have called my estranged wife, whom I had not seen or spoken to since the nineties.

I then thought the airlines might call the phone number associated with the passenger, but if these deceased passengers were like me, the phone number listed for them would be for a cell phone which is now part of the debris field.

So what is the process?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:00 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Looking at the various airline companies' flight paths over the area that the NYT published, I can't help but wonder whether the British and French intelligence authorities knew something they didn't tell the Dutch and Germans. I wonder what made Air France and British Airways judge the situation so differently than KLM and Lufthansa.

Its an interesting idea - although KLM and AF are actually the same company. That and I'd think on something like that the allies would at least communicate? At least I hope?
posted by JPD at 7:01 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Out of curiosity, how does an airline actually go about doing this?

Probably there are loved ones calling the Malaysia Airlines hotline trying to get the status of their family, and their contact information is taken then.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:02 AM on July 18


I hope a full manifest is released, and soon, because I have a sinking feeling about the Canadian who was on that flight.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:09 AM on July 18


Yes, that's what struck me as odd, too -- that they don't share. Your point about KLM and AF being the same company makes it even weirder -- one arm flies entirely around UKR, the other arm of the same company right over.
posted by AwkwardPause at 7:16 AM on July 18


UN confirms there were 80 children on board
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:20 AM on July 18


It seems weird to me that the Talking Points Memo survey of newspapers' front pages didn't include Der Spiegel, for instance. The picture on the front page there (of the Online international edition at least) is of a single piece of fuselage in a seemingly pristine field.

The only article on the front page there that relates to ML17 at all is a Der Spiegel interview with the German foreign minister in which the question of sanctions is never even approached.
posted by newdaddy at 7:23 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Der Spiegel is a weekly.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:24 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Washington Post:

"Cor Pan and Neeltje Tol were leaving Amsterdam for vacation when Cor — who goes by the last name “Pan” on Facebook . . . stopped to snap a picture of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and post it to Facebook. His message, in hindsight, was eerie: 'Should it disappear, this is what it looks like'."
posted by ryanshepard at 7:25 AM on July 18


German Foreign Minister: 'Further Escalation Not Out of the Question' in Ukraine
posted by KokuRyu at 7:33 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I hope a full manifest is released, and soon, because I have a sinking feeling about the Canadian who was on that flight.

While I think people all over the world are going to be affected by this, Vancouver is a leading centre for AIDS research, and I know there are a lot of people in Van who must be out of their minds right now.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:34 AM on July 18


Der Spiegel is a weekly.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:24 AM on July 18
[+] [!]


That's true, but the interview with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier must have happened yesterday. He went so far as to call the ML17 event "appalling" and talked a bit about asking for a cease-fire, but didn't address the issue of sanctions.
posted by newdaddy at 7:36 AM on July 18


While I think people all over the world are going to be affected by this, Vancouver is a leading centre for AIDS research, and I know there are a lot of people in Van who must be out of their minds right now.

Wouldn't a flight to Australia from Vancouver go west, over the Pacific?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:39 AM on July 18


Yeah. Well I think usually south, xfer or layover through LAX, then off to Oz. But AIDS researchers aren't always necessarily working in their home countries; it's entirely possible that a Canadian could have been in the Netherlands for example, and thus on that plane.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:42 AM on July 18


Der Spiegel is a weekly.

I just posted a link to Der Speigel above. I'm not sure why we should care if Talking Points Memo didn't do as I did out and check out the Spiegel site. All of this stuff (Figaro, Le Monde etc in France) is online for all of us to check out whenever we want.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:42 AM on July 18


80 children on a flight of 285 seems like an unusual ratio (80/205 = 285) of children to adults to me. Is this typical for a summertime flight?

.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:44 AM on July 18


As noted above, Australian kids go back to school soon. Could have been a lot of families returning from holidays, families tagging along with someone attending the AIDS conference, etc.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:45 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Is this typical for a summertime flight?

I'm not sure, but it does sound strange, considering that if none of the 103 AIDS researchers were traveling with a child, these 80 children were traveling with 102 adults.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:46 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


(and it would be 80 + 190, 15 of the murdered people were crew)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:47 AM on July 18


Airline Will Not Escape Liability if Act of War Caused Crash
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:50 AM on July 18


> I do AIDS research. I've been trying to find a list of AIDS researchers aboard the flight. Has anyone found one? Or is there a list of victims? I know Jaap Goudsmit (albeit, not that well). He has been one of the best AIDS researchers for over twenty years. (Netherlands has several of the best.)

The IAS says it will post updates as they become available. I know a lot of people in this field as well, and everyone is kind of holding their breath, waiting for names. It's so awful.
posted by rtha at 7:50 AM on July 18


If you were a researcher with a partner and a fam and you had a summertime conference in Oz its entirely plausible you would bring the crew along.

Certainly a lot of my childhood vacations involved us tagging along on a business trip.
posted by JPD at 7:51 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


There is a lot of coverage on Spiegel.de/Schlagzeilen - in German. The English edition covers only some story lines. First and foremost Der Spiegel is a weekly print magazine, and their reporting reflects that. Those front page snapshots might have been of physical/daily newspapers (and the selection was very limited, only showing 4 IIRC). That's why I said Der Spiegel was a weekly.

A few other international front pages on Austrian Der Standard's page.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:52 AM on July 18


It's not summer in Australia, is it? High of 60?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:53 AM on July 18


are you thinking of Berlin's Der Tagespiegel? my fave newspaper in German.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:57 AM on July 18


It's summer in the hemisphere that a lot of the conference goers are traveling from, though.
posted by rtha at 7:59 AM on July 18


Oh, right. Duh.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:03 AM on July 18


I wonder if the skies over Donetsk will now be safer for the Ukrainian airforce and if so if they will try to take advantage of it. It could get interesting if the conflict escalates and aircraft continue to be shot down while the investigation is going on, more so if Putin did indeed steal the black boxes.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:16 AM on July 18


If Putin has the black boxes (I'm not seeing a lot of agreement on that point? Has it been confirmed at all?) then he's an idiot. He may be an evil, arrogant man, but stupid he is not; he knows if those black boxes ever enter Russia, nobody (internationally) will ever believe a single thing Russia says about their contents, and that won't end well for anyone, least of all him. (How tamper-proof are they, anyway?)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:19 AM on July 18


I keep wondering about what kind of chain of command there is (if any) in the separatist groups. A Google search led me to a Washington Post article from last month about Russian nationals fighting in the Ukraine:

Is anyone in charge of Russian nationalists fighting in Ukraine?
posted by malocchio at 8:22 AM on July 18


Feckless fecal fear mongering...According the Washington Post

"Ukrainian authorities were in possession of one “black box” data recorder from the downed plane on Friday, said Konstantin Batozsky, an adviser to the Donetsk regional governor, Serhiy Taruta. Batozsky said he didn’t have exact information about where the recorder had been recovered.

Rebels had told Ukrainian authorities that they had at least one other data recorder, Batozsky said, but government officials had not actually seen the second recorder...

In an interview with Russia 24 television Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia would not be taking the black boxes pro-Russian rebels said they had recovered from the plane, despite the separatists’ offer to hand them over.

“We are not going to take away these boxes, we are not going to violate the rules existing with regard to this sort of cases within the international community,” he said."

This was posted at 9:33 AM EST this morning to their live blog.
posted by whitetigereyes at 8:22 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


I haven't seen confirmation about black box(es) going to Russia. It was reported that some rebels said they found a black box and was indeed taking it to Moscow. Then it was denied by a Russian authority. Then the rebels found a second black box. Then the rebels found around 80% of black boxes / reporting equipment. It's all in flux.
posted by shortfuse at 8:22 AM on July 18


Well that's some tiny bit of good news at least.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:24 AM on July 18


He may be an evil, arrogant man, but stupid he is not...

At some point, you start drinking your own Kool-aid, and then all bets are off.
posted by Behemoth at 8:24 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


It was a bit risky and perhaps short-sighted for the Ukraine government to release those tapped phone calls. thereby vividly alerting the separatists to that capacity, vs. trusting the truth would very quickly out anyway.
posted by Rumple at 8:26 AM on July 18


This page pulls together clips from Ukrainian TV news coverage (some of it *extremely graphic*) about the crash.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:27 AM on July 18


Other than the potential tampering issue, there isn't likely to be too much useful information on the black boxes, I mean, presumably systems were normal and then boom. I think in the case of the Korean Airlines shoot-down in the eighties then the CVR recorded that the plane flew on for a while after being hit, which adds just another level of horror and not much else.
posted by Rumple at 8:28 AM on July 18


Wrt the number of children: I live in Holland, and the moment I heard about this I immediately thought 'fuck, there must've been so many kids onboard". Malaysia is a very popular destination for Dutch families, seems like everyone we know have vacationed there. The school summer holiday started here in Zuid Holland today and it always shows immediately in ticket prices; if you can skip the last school day you can often save hundreds of euros when travelling with two or three little ones. The Thursday flight would've been popular. Still, I hope there's an error in that figure.

So far I've heard of a few friends of acquaintances who were on that flight. Young people. Oh god, my heart hurts for their families.
posted by sively at 8:32 AM on July 18 [24 favorites]


how long it flew after being hit and the direction could be very material.
posted by JPD at 8:34 AM on July 18


Obama press conf delayed 30min.
posted by shortfuse at 8:36 AM on July 18


Avakov: 'Irrefutable evidence' shows that Kremlin-backed separatists shot down Malaysian plane
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:37 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Well, Vitaly Churkin pretty much put his foot in it at the UN, IMHO.
posted by aramaic at 8:41 AM on July 18


It was a bit risky and perhaps short-sighted for the Ukraine government to release those tapped phone calls. thereby vividly alerting the separatists to that capacity, vs. trusting the truth would very quickly out anyway.

The SBU has released other recorded conversations between separatists/Russians over the last few months, so they already know that there is no guarantee their that their communications are secure.
posted by Kabanos at 8:42 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Someone on another message board pointing out that MH17 went down on the 18th anniversary of TWA 800's crash landing out of JFK. Obviously, nothing in common, other than conspiracy, but small chances.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:42 AM on July 18


Well, Vitaly Churkin pretty much put his foot in it at the UN, IMHO.

Can you expand on that?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:48 AM on July 18


For sophie1 and others following the IAC connection: the Washington Post has more specifics about those traveling to Melbourne, with a much smaller number: 7. The 100+ headed to the conference seems to be one of those guesses that turn into fact in these tragedies.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:49 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]


Telegraph: "Churkin stuck to Putin’s line yesterday that Ukraine was responsible for an incident that happened in its air space. His speech more notable for what he did not address than his geopolitical rant. He chose not discuss any specifics about the shooting down, whether pro-Russia separatists were responsible or indeed Samantha Power’s suggestion a few minutes earlier that rebels could have received Russian assistance firing the missile. He took a predictably scatter-gun approach of blaming everyone but Russia and the rebels. He portrayed Russia as the peacemakers and the separatists as the oppressed, said that Ukraine escalated the crisis, encouraged by their Western supporters, trying to stamp out dissenters, calling them bandits and terrorists. It was the West’s fault that “much is said, nothing is done” at international institutions, he said."
posted by shortfuse at 8:52 AM on July 18


NSDC #Luhansk: RU fighters fired at bus w/ refugees; there are ~20 bodies on streets that RU don't allow to take away
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:56 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Here's a remembrance of one of the Dutch HIV activists on the plane: Pim de Kuijer.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:56 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Apologies, I should have been clearer. From my POV, the way he spent the majority of his time ranting about the Ukraine in general was a very poor strategy, and comes across as a poor job of misdirection. Sort of "oh yeah, well if you didn't want me to steal your cookies then you shouldn't have put the jar on the countertop where I could reach it!" type of thing. Childish, poorly-argued, and poorly-timed.

...not intending to make light of the situation, of course.
posted by aramaic at 9:00 AM on July 18


Oh sorry aramaic, I meant what he said was a steaming load of shite. Not you.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:01 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I know it's not the best source, but Buzzfeed has this:

WASHINGTON — None of the passengers on the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over eastern Ukraine used a U.S. passport to check in, according to internal Obama administration emails about the incident.

President Barack Obama said Friday, however, that one of the passengers, who he didn’t name, was an American citizen. The emails contradict widely circulated rumors that that there were 23 Americans on the flight.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:08 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


There have been 130 plane accidents with over 50 fatalities in the last 20 years. The chance of two of them being on the same date is over 99%.
posted by theodolite at 9:08 AM on July 18 [7 favorites]


An RT Reporter Resigns In Protest Of Network's Downed Jet Coverage
(This per TPM).
posted by newdaddy at 9:09 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]


Contrary to BuzzFeed, Obama did name the one US citizen: "We know at least one american citizen, Quinn Lucas Shanzmen, was killed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."
posted by shortfuse at 9:10 AM on July 18


Also: "U.S. State Department tells @ABC’s @AliABCNews Quinn Lucas Schansman was a dual U.S.-Dutch citizen on #MH17 when it was shot down."
posted by shortfuse at 9:12 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Thus explaining the discrepancy: American, but traveling on a Dutch passport.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:13 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Other than the potential tampering issue, there isn't likely to be too much useful information on the black boxes,

Agreed. All of the relevant information is going to be military SIGINT, as we've seen some of with the released conversations. How much more of this information is made public is likely going to be the determining factor in our understanding of the event.
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:14 AM on July 18


Well they're firing at OSCE investigators who have reached the site per ABC news reporter on the scene.

this could get even uglier.

My guess--the rebels never got a Buk system from a Ukrainian airbase. The Russians handed it to them and the claim about the capture was a cover story. Reporting I'm seeing this morning is that Ukraine can account for their entire supply of missiles. So either the missiles and the launcher or the missiles came from Putin.

That's really, really bad for everyone involved.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:18 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]


Other than the potential tampering issue, there isn't likely to be too much useful information on the black boxes

dunno, I think the black boxes told everyone a lot about KAL 007. The GPS location of the plane coupled with the data as to where the missile hit (likely a proximity fuse from 20 meters away) can give further clues as to the location of the launcher.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:20 AM on July 18


Ironmouth - I saw this tweet: "Rebel's commender fires a warning shot when 2 #OSCE members leaved the road to inspect #MH17 part in a field"

That's not quite firing *at* the investigators. Might be a nitpick in the grand scheme, but still.
posted by shortfuse at 9:21 AM on July 18


According to the Ukrainian government, the rebels did capture a BUK but it wasn't in working condition. Then the Russians gave a working one to the rebels, later.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:24 AM on July 18


Other than the potential tampering issue, there isn't likely to be too much useful information on the black boxes

Oh, I don't know. If the Russians have the black boxes I think we can be reasonably confident that we'll find they contain a radio warning from Ukraine military forces that they're entering Ukraine airspace and are about to be fired on by "Ukrainian military forces...we repeat, Ukrainian military forces are targeting your flight" and probably some conversation between the flight crew in which they get a visual on the missile and notice that it has the Ukrainian flag on it and a crude graffiti saying "We hate Putin, he's so much more virile and manly than we are! I am a missile that was fired by Ukrainian military personnel under direct orders from Kiev!"
posted by yoink at 9:29 AM on July 18 [27 favorites]


Woman loses family members in both Malaysia Airlines crashes: "Kaylene Mann, whose brother was on board missing flight MH370, learned Friday that her stepdaughter was traveling on MH17"
posted by stbalbach at 9:32 AM on July 18


It seems pretty clear that Obama believes it was Putin and he as much as said so in the conference. I don't think he'd do that without good intelligence to back it up.

I'm glad they've redirected flights out of that airspace, at least.
posted by emjaybee at 9:33 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


If the Russians have the black boxes I think we can be reasonably confident that we'll find

It's always interesting on MetaFilter what the words "we" and "they" mean. We're all in this together on planet Earth. There is no "other" and there are undoubtedly some of "them" (Russians) on MetaFilter.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:33 AM on July 18 [8 favorites]


Now those are astronomical odds.

I really hope she has people/cats/dogs nearby to hug.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:34 AM on July 18


Re: Dual citizenship

How do authorities find out if there are people on that flight who are dual citizen? None of my passports indicates that I have another passport/citizenship and it certainly is not recorded anywhere. Are the families the only way to find out?
posted by travelwithcats at 9:37 AM on July 18


It's always interesting on MetaFilter what the words "we" and "they" mean.

Um, I'm addressing the people reading this thread, among whom I include myself, as "we." "We Mefites will find this..." If you have another pronoun to suggest, I'd be happy to hear it.
posted by yoink at 9:39 AM on July 18 [7 favorites]


Guardian reports: Rebels turn away OSCE observers

"A unit of heavily armed rebels blocked the 30-strong team, cordoning off a large part of the crash site. The inspectors retreated after an hour-long stand-off."

posted by travelwithcats at 9:40 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


There is no "other" and there are undoubtedly some of "them" (Russians) on MetaFilter.

Oh, and I can add: any Russian mefites are, clearly, included in that "we" who will "find" whatever it might be.
posted by yoink at 9:41 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


How do authorities find out if there are people on that flight who are dual citizen? None of my passports indicates that I have another passport/citizenship and it certainly is not recorded anywhere. Are the families the only way to find out?

Just a guess that governments are given the passenger list immediately to run through their systems.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:42 AM on July 18


Indiana University doctoral student Karlijn Keijzer among those killed on MH17.
posted by helloknitty at 10:07 AM on July 18


Denis Pushilin, self-declared Chairman of the Supreme Council of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk, has submitted a letter of resignation (from Moscow).

Rats off a sinking ship? I think everyone is going to leave this on Girkin's shoulders, because he's crazy enough to stick around till the end.
posted by Kabanos at 10:21 AM on July 18


My continued thanks to all contributing to this thread, reading this conversation really does help channel some of the helpless sadness I feel. It's also a pretty good tonic against misinformation.

I do have one, tiny tiny nitpick, though: please stop calling this country "the Ukraine." It is considered offensive.

The name of the country is Ukraine.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:35 AM on July 18 [24 favorites]


I got in touch with the Malaysian AIDS Council and set up a fundraiser for them in memory of MH17.
posted by divabat at 10:36 AM on July 18 [14 favorites]


LooseFilter, I had no idea. Thank you -- that was helpful.
posted by mochapickle at 10:40 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


I think everyone is going to leave this on Girkin's shoulders, because he's crazy enough to stick around till the end.

Civilization be damned, I won't shed a single tear if that lunatic is Qaddafi'd right on the street.
posted by Behemoth at 10:42 AM on July 18


Wow, according to one report 930 flights travelled near or around eastern Ukraine over the past seven days. Looking at this United Airlines flew 5 times over that part of the world.
posted by travelwithcats at 10:53 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Proportionately, more of the Netherlands population was lost on MH17 than the U.S. lost on 9/11/2001.
posted by stevis23 at 11:04 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]


An important point, LooseFilter. I also did not know.

The link was very informative and much appreciated.
posted by RaRa-SpaceRobot at 11:24 AM on July 18


Malaysian officials, airlines defend flight path of downed jet.

I can totally understand why airlines overflew Ukraine. "Just fly around it" is a complicated, expensive proposition; it takes time and fuel and potentially creates congestion. And Ukraine has not been understood to be a war zone and the flight level restriction was ATC's method for protecting commercial traffic from some jackass with a shoulder mount rocket. Of course now in retrospect we know the threat was much more severe, but hindsight is 20/20.
posted by Nelson at 11:38 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]


feckless fecal fear mongering: I hope a full manifest is released, and soon, because I have a sinking feeling about the Canadian who was on that flight.

Andrei Anghel from Ajax, Ontario.
posted by gman at 11:57 AM on July 18


NTSB tweeted that they will travel to Ukraine for the crash investigation.

Photos on The Big Picture (some graphic images).
posted by backseatpilot at 11:57 AM on July 18


(When did TBP start this terrible "take this dumb survey to see the rest of our photos" bullshit? Ugh.)
posted by elizardbits at 12:09 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


So Where Are the Black Boxes?

It is interesting that Borodai was seen at the crash site yesterday, and today has reportedly submitted his retirement in Moscow.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:11 PM on July 18


I can totally understand why airlines overflew Ukraine. "Just fly around it" is a complicated, expensive proposition; it takes time and fuel and potentially creates congestion. And Ukraine has not been understood to be a war zone and the flight level restriction was ATC's method for protecting commercial traffic from some jackass with a shoulder mount rocket. Of course now in retrospect we know the threat was much more severe, but hindsight is 20/20.

The SBU has known that BUK missiles were in the area and several Ukrainian aircraft have been shot down. I don't understand why Ukrainian ATC did not notify air traffic that eastern Ukraine was unsafe even at 30k feet.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:13 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Pushilin has submitted his resignation. I haven't seen anything about Borodai doing the same.
posted by ob at 12:22 PM on July 18


Oops. I had the two confused. Nevermind ;)
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:26 PM on July 18


LooseFilter: I do have one, tiny tiny nitpick, though: please stop calling this country "the Ukraine." It is considered offensive.

Very interesting. The linked article has this explanation: “The Ukraine is the way the Russians referred to that part of the country during Soviet times … Now that it is a country, a nation, and a recognized state, it is just Ukraine. And it is incorrect to refer to the Ukraine, even though a lot of people do it.”

I'm a bit confused. I always thought that Russian doesn't have articles.

So how exactly do you make the distinction between "Ukraine" and "the Ukraine" in Russian?
posted by sour cream at 12:27 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


I read that too fast and thought Putin had resigned.
posted by sio42 at 12:30 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


Photos on The Big Picture (some graphic images).

Heartbreaking. Anyone who ever advocates that war is a solution for anything should first view pictures like this.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:30 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


American victim (dual Dutch-U.S. citizenship) - Quinn Lucas Schansman
posted by zakur at 12:31 PM on July 18


So how exactly do you make the distinction between "Ukraine" and "the Ukraine" in Russian?

I don't know, I just know I was pointedly corrected a couple of years ago by a Ukrainian acquaintance.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:33 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Remembrance of Joep Lange and reflection on what his loss means for the HIV fight, by Laurie Garrett.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:35 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


How difficult would it have been to get permission to go through a different airspace? I actually have no idea, but I would have assumed that it was a complicated thing and required levels of approval? At least in the US, airlines routes seem a fairly complicated thing to arrange.

I guess I can agree that the airlines flying over this space (not just Malaysia Airlines), after it was somewhat known what weaponry the Russians had, were negligent, but I can also understand why they didn't really think the risk was that high and were not motivated to start the process of finding new routes. This seems to be more in the "not understanding the politics of the situation" and less in the "clearly criminally negligent" category. But what do I know.
posted by emjaybee at 12:35 PM on July 18


Wikipedia suggests it's not an article in Russian that matters, but a preposition.

In the Ukrainian language, there was an official change in the way of saying "in Ukraine" following the country's independence. Traditional usage is na Ukrajini (with the preposition na, "on"), but recently Ukrainian authorities have begun using v Ukrajini (with the preposition v, "in", which is also used with most other country names). Linguistic prescription in Russian dictates usage of na. Russian-language media in Ukraine are increasingly using the parallel form v Ukraine. However, the media in Russia continue to use the standard na Ukraine. Note that the preposition na is also used for some regions of Russia as well as with Rus, the historical homeland of Eastern Slavs (na Rusi). The na preposition implies the borderland etymology (and in general, a description rather than a proper name), in this context similarly to the use of the definite article in English (see above).
posted by sbutler at 12:39 PM on July 18 [9 favorites]


CTV News: What airlines were already avoiding east Ukraine?
posted by malocchio at 12:51 PM on July 18


Distressing news from @OSCE on #MH17 crash scene. Rebels reluctant to let anyone in, investigation likely to be very complicated #Ukraine

OSCE unable to access all but a small area of #MH17 crash site due to aggressive armed rebel guards. "Some looked slightly intoxicated."

OSCE have no idea who is controlling #MH17 crash site. Appears to be several small rebel groups with no leader. Fate of black boxes unknown.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:01 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


So I guess they're committing to the "let's just stonewall until everyone loses interest" approach then?
posted by aramaic at 1:05 PM on July 18


This whole situation is fractally bad. No matter what angle you look at it from, no matter how small- or big-picture a view you're taking, everything is just awful. Assholes shoot down a plane, everybody on the planet knows it, and they won't let investigators in.

And at the end of the day there's still 295 grieving families who are being tortured over and over again by these assholes and their obstinacy.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:07 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


I'd hate to be the air traffic control bureaucrat who made the judgment call about the degree of restrictions on airflight over Ukraine. This is why I do a job with no real world consequences.
posted by Rumple at 1:11 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


This picture of the separatist leader Alexander Borodai could illustrate the word "thugs". God help Ukraine from the likes of them.
posted by Rumple at 1:29 PM on July 18


Oh for fuck's sake Ukraine rebels!
posted by divabat at 1:35 PM on July 18


(not meaning to imply any specific pinning of responsibility on any government)
posted by divabat at 1:36 PM on July 18


Video (YT) of what I think is OSCE arriving at the scene. Interviews with armed soldiers in Russian; some French and English segments in there too. You might have seen a photo of a soldier holding up a black & white stuffed-animal monkey - this video shows that moment. Video shows lots of debris; no bodies as far as I can see. (Via a reddit live feed)
posted by shortfuse at 1:56 PM on July 18


Kremlin-backed insurgents now claim Malaysia Airlines plane was carrying corpses
According to Girkin, the plane’s passengers were already dead when the plane went down.

“I just talked to two people who were gathering corpses, both from Shakhtarsk (the city where the plane crashed) so they came to the spot only 30 minutes after the tragedy. I am writing from their words. They said many corpses were totally bloodless and looked like blood had clotted long before the catastrophe,” the leader of Russian backed insurgents wrote.

Сiting the same locals, Girkin also said a strong putrid smell was noticed in the area of the plane crash. “This smell could not have appeared in a half an hour in any weather, and it was cloudy, not very hot yesterday,” he wrote. According to the terrorist leader there was a special medical cargo on board.

In the same statement Girkin-Strelkov admitted plane pilots were alive and did die as a result of the crash. “The cabin, and its front is in a good condition, is literally spilled with their blood all over,” he wrote.
@Voproskin: One of the biggest #Russia newspapers reporting that bodies on #MH17 were not"fresh", died days earlier pic.twitter.com/Dy7FVJJQww

Maybe they're just doing the Nixon crazy routine again to scare us.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:06 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Maybe they're just doing the Nixon crazy routine again to scare us.

That kind of irrational paranoia makes me think the meth is flowing freely in Donetsk. Giving troops 'go pills' has been a thing for a long time.
posted by mullingitover at 2:09 PM on July 18


So, the new story is secret fascist Ukrainian operatives... snuck into the Netherlands and planted... corpses on a plane? Which they then hijacked?

Well okay then
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:10 PM on July 18


They said many corpses were totally bloodless and looked like blood had clotted long before the catastrophe

One can only assume these were duly accredited medical professionals.

I mean seriously, do they actually expect anyone to buy the bullshit they're selling?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:13 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Yeah, OK, call me cynical or something but by taking this line the rebels have pretty much admitted their guilt.

Scum.
posted by aramaic at 2:14 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


Their response is basically "false flag!" which is totally credible. Next they'll claim that the plane that crashed was actually the same one that went missing earlier in the year.
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:17 PM on July 18 [8 favorites]


What exactly does "One of the biggest Russia newspapers" really mean, though? You could say the same for the New York Post or Washington Times in the US, or heck, even The Enquirer. Is this a "legitimate" Russian news source feeding the public this obvious bullshit, or a well-known propaganda rag?
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:17 PM on July 18


At what point do we stop the charade that these are 'rebels' and not plain ol' agents of the Russian state? They're getting arms from Russia, many are actual Russian nationals, and they're coordinating with Russian military intelligence.

This kinda seems like a deliberate act. Less than 24 hours before this happened, Russia was hit with the most painful sanctions yet, and now, purely coincidentally(?), the situation has escalated in dramatic fashion.
posted by mullingitover at 2:19 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


They said many corpses were totally bloodless and looked like blood had clotted long before the catastrophe

I remember Karadzic saying the same thing about the victims of the Sarajevo Marketplace Massacre (the famous line was that they had "ice in their ears"). Not only did many Serbs ardently embrace this transparent piece of bullshit, some of their more egregious apologists in the West even repeated it solemnly (I could never respect Alexander Cockburn again after he did that).

It really doesn't matter how blatant the lie is--with your really dedicated supporters, the more absurd it is the more ardently they'll cling to it. In part, I think, because its very outrageousness is so distressing to their opponents (the logic, of course, behind so much Holocaust denialism).
posted by yoink at 2:19 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


This kinda seems like a deliberate act. Less than 24 hours before this happened, Russia was hit with the most painful sanctions yet, and now, purely coincidentally(?), the situation has escalated in dramatic fashion.

It's clear from the cellphone conversations that have been released that this was an accident. There is absolutely no percentage for Putin in this at all. He might well have chosen to escalate against the US in some way or against Ukraine, but it makes no kind of sense at all for him to encourage his proxies to shoot down this plane. All it does is unite the world against him when he's been playing a nice little game of divide-and-conquer so far (or, at least, of playing German self-interest off against American interests).
posted by yoink at 2:24 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Kremlin-backed insurgents now claim Malaysia Airlines plane was carrying corpses

that has got to be one of the dumbest excuses i've ever heard a military entity utter
posted by pyramid termite at 2:24 PM on July 18 [8 favorites]


The stupidest part is it isn't without precedent. I started reading more about the Iranian plane we shot down in '88 since asking about it in this thread and some people were claiming the same thing there; the Iranians loaded up the plane with corpses and flew it deliberately at the carrier.

It's like they all read from the same playbook.
posted by Justinian at 2:27 PM on July 18


This just gets worse and worse.
posted by rtha at 2:27 PM on July 18


The world's certainly been having a more-than-usual careening out of control feel the last week or so, hasn't it?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:29 PM on July 18


It's clear from the cellphone conversations that have been released that this was an accident. There is absolutely no percentage for Putin in this at all.

That's assuming Putin really wanted eastern Ukraine and wasn't content with the real prize: solid, uncontested ownership of Crimea.

This gives Putin a golden ticket to throw the rebels under the bus, walk away with Crimea, and come out smelling like roses.

I picture this scenario: the rebels were getting their orders from Russian military intelligence. They aren't competent enough to distinguish the two types of planes (Ukrainian military plane vs. civilian airliner), they simply got orders of when to fire and what to fire at. Russian intelligence pointed them at the target, and they fired at it.
posted by mullingitover at 2:29 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


This picture of the separatist leader Alexander Borodai could illustrate the word "thugs". God help Ukraine from the likes of them.

In a different political culture he'd be a joke, a kind of Joe the Plumber
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:32 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Ars Technica has a reasonably brief but interesting article on why the U.S. is so ready to say the launch was from rebel territory.
posted by aramaic at 2:32 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I have no idea what's going on, but can we leave the wild speculation and conspiracy theories to the unhinged Ukrainian rebels?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:33 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


In a different political culture he'd be Joe the Plumber

The culture is xenophobic hystericalism regardless of the particular flag it's waving.
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:34 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


"Plane full of corpses" reminds me of this third-rate TV movie.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:36 PM on July 18


This gives Putin a golden ticket to throw the rebels under the bus, walk away with Crimea, and come out smelling like roses.

Putin's control of the Crimea is already beyond question and he could have dropped the separatists any day of the week with no meaningful cost--certainly far less cost than having this plane shot down will impose on him. He could have looked like he was playing the statesman if he'd negotiated an end to the hostilities with the Ukrainians--now he's just going to look like he backed a bunch of loonies and had to run away from them. He's certainly not going to come out "smelling like roses."

No, if there is any way to make this a deliberate and rational act by Putin, no one has put it forward yet.
posted by yoink at 2:39 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


deliberate and rational act by Putin

ah there's a word there that might not fit all the actions of the man in question.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:42 PM on July 18


Kremlin-backed insurgents now claim Malaysia Airlines plane was carrying corpses

That they then proceeded to shoot down anyway...

So, either they are morons for taking the bait and shooting down an airliner stuffed full of corpses as ruse to make them look bad, or...

They are morons shot down an airliner full of innocent civilians.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:42 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


chocolate pickle "Plane full of corpses" reminds me of this third-rate TV movie.

[SPOILER]It's also part of the plot in a Sherlock episode. [ /SPOILER]
posted by nathan_teske at 2:45 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


In a different political culture he'd be a joke, a kind of Joe the Plumber

You do realize that essentially the entire GOP is Joe the Plumber in everything but name, right? The fact that a majority of Mississippi Republicans either proudly admitted that they would support the Confederacy or that they "weren't sure" if they would or not certainly freaks me out a little. The popular welcoming of secession and separatism isn't just for those around the Crimean peninsula.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:47 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


"Plane full of corpses" reminds me of this third-rate TV movie.

Millenium wasn't a TV movie!
posted by Justinian at 2:50 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


...and now they're editing Wikipedia.

Nice.
posted by aramaic at 2:59 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


What exactly does "One of the biggest Russia newspapers" really mean, though? ... Is this a "legitimate" Russian news source feeding the public this obvious bullshit, or a well-known propaganda rag?

There really isn't any such thing as a legitimate Russian news source anymore: Amid Ukraine Crisis, Russia Puts the Squeeze on Independent Media The Moscow Times -- owned by Dutch investors, as it happens, but English-only -- is one possible exception, but almost all Russian-language media, particularly TV-style outlets, are controlled directly or indirectly by Putin allies. Even the Facebook-style social media site VK saw its founder leave amid pressure to take on regime-friendly investors. (I noted that when there was a peace demonstration in Moscow, the Facebook event had 3 or 4 times as many attendees subscribed as the equivalent event on VK, which is based in Russia --- suggesting that dissidents were already avoiding the site.)

Guardian Liveblog is saying Ukranian rescue workers found the black box, not pro-Russian rebels.

Be cognizant that pro-Russian rebels may have day jobs as Ukrainian first responders. Saying one is not automatically excluding the other.
posted by dhartung at 3:05 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


That Russian newspaper cited in the conspiracy theory tweet seems to be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moskovskij_Komsomolets

a Moscow-based daily newspaper with a circulation approaching one million, covering general news.[1] Founded in 1919, it is now regarded as publishing sensational or provocative items on Russian politics and society.[citation needed]

MK is also known as host for Russia's oldest hit parade - the Zvukovaya Dorozhka (Sound Track, in Russian).

posted by Bwithh at 3:22 PM on July 18


Kyiv Post: alleged conversations between Russian military intelligence officers and their proxies regarding the receipt and delivery of a Buk system from Russia.
posted by sfenders at 3:29 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Oh god. If true, this situation just got measurably worse.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:44 PM on July 18


So the Ukrainian Security Service is saying that the first two attacks on military planes came from Russia itself, and the current tragedy was the first use of the Buk missile system by rebels.

Also, it's very weird to see a SBU military intelligence video posted on YouTube, but that's the kind of time we live in.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:44 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I think it's weird when warring nations are releasing information about the struggle using Twitter.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:47 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


A dangerous missile, and a dangerous lack of training on how to use it
Time.com's "working theory of the shootdown".
posted by monospace at 3:47 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


There were pets on that flight - the cargo manifest names 2 live dogs, 4 live pigeons and 5 unspecified live birds. [page 15]

The Guardian writes: "An unlikely menagerie of dead pets lay strewn across the scene in the grass, bright blue and yellow macaws, a cockatoo, a random giant St Bernard dog curled peacefully where he fell."
posted by travelwithcats at 4:32 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


"Plane full of corpses" reminds me of this third-rate TV movie.

The John Varley book this is based on is really good.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:55 PM on July 18


A slightly unbalanced Facebook friend of mine on Facebook who identified solidly with Obama and the Democrats (most of the time) seems to think that it's no coincidence that *two* Malaysian aircraft have gone down. The Americans, you see, are sending them a message about the TPP...
posted by KokuRyu at 5:13 PM on July 18


(btw I don't believe that for a second)
posted by KokuRyu at 5:13 PM on July 18


Passenger list.
posted by AnnaRat at 5:16 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


TPP?
posted by newdaddy at 5:29 PM on July 18


Passenger list.

Having that, one could possibly verify the authenticity of the first transcript, the one that mentions "an Indonesian student. From a university in Thompson".
posted by ringu0 at 5:29 PM on July 18


I think it's "Trans-Pacific Partnership".
posted by wintermind at 5:30 PM on July 18


If that list is right, there were 23 children in seats and three lap infants, contrary to the reports of 80+ children.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:31 PM on July 18


Russian State TV Edits Wikipedia to Blame Ukraine for MH17 Crash
posted by homunculus at 5:32 PM on July 18


Not all the passengers known to be children are marked as children in that list. If you look at the Maslins, the three Australian children widely reported as being on the flight and aged 12, 10 and 8, only Otis (but not Evie or Mo) is marked on this list with a C.
posted by AnnaRat at 5:37 PM on July 18


Oof. Wishful thinking on my part, I guess, if it can even be called that. Thanks for the correction.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:43 PM on July 18


evidenceofabsence, I did exactly the same count as you did when I saw it, but then realised that it wasn't right.
posted by AnnaRat at 5:45 PM on July 18


ringu0, FWIW:
One unverified online report raised the notion of another Canadian connection. Based on a transcript of an unverified recording, the report suggested one of the victims may be an Indonesian from the “University of Thompson” – which left officials at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C., checking their records.

TRU currently has a joint program with the Indonesian government, with three Indonesian students enrolled, but has so far found no evidence any were on the flight. “It doesn’t appear that that’s the case … we’re working on tracking down all our students,” TRU spokeswoman Diana Skoglund said Thursday evening. -- Globe and Mail, this afternoon

posted by dhartung at 5:50 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


According to lenta.ru (under all-new kremlin-connected management), the separatists say the first 2 recordings leaked were authentic, but made on different days and then spliced together. [edit: to clarify, they claim 'we shot the plane down' referred to the Su-25 from a few days or weeks ago]

Another interesting thing I scoped out on that site was that they claim Buk (which in russian means Beech - as in, a Beech tree), does not reach above ~5,600m without an external radar. This claim didn't seem to be covered in western reports. By the way there were no openly outlandish theories on lenta.ru, but they completely ignored some key stuff that came through, e.g. Girkin's claim on downed AN-25 plane made at the same time the passenger jet went down.
posted by rainy at 6:51 PM on July 18


One unverified online report raised the notion of another Canadian connection. Based on a transcript of an unverified recording, the report suggested one of the victims may be an Indonesian from the “University of Thompson” – which left officials at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C., checking their records.

Yeah that thought sprang to mind when I read "University of Thomson"; TRU has a very large foreign student population.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:39 PM on July 18


The official name of the Buk is SA-6 and the NATO code name is "Gainful". Here is what the Federation of American Scientists have to say about it.

They agree that an external radar (known as "Long Track") is needed for high altitude work.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:43 PM on July 18


Fear of Landing: The Information So Far: Malaysia Airlines flight 17. A summary from a blogger who does a very good job writing up aircraft accidents for laymen.
posted by Nelson at 7:43 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


The official name of the Buk is SA-6 and the NATO code name is "Gainful". Here is what the Federation of American Scientists have to say about it.

They agree that an external radar (known as "Long Track") is needed for high altitude work.


Chocolate Pickle, I'm afraid there's some confusion here. The SA-6 (US DoD designation) Gainful (NATO designation) is the previous generation, Russian name "Kub" ("Cube"). The "Buk" ("Beech") is its successor, known to the US as the SA-11 and NATO as "Gadfly". Here's the FAS page for it.

One of the major improvements of the Buk over the Kub is that a Kub battery required a separate radar vehicle to guide the missiles launched from the TEL vehicle (Transporter-Erector-Launcher). The Buk design uses a TELAR vehicle (TEL and Radar), meaning that a single vehicle can track its own targets and guide the missile itself. A Buk battery normally includes a separate vehicle with the SNOW DRIFT target-acquisition radar, but the SNOW DRIFT hands off the target to the FIRE DOME radar on the TELAR itself for tracking and guidance. The FIRE DOME can engage targets at up to 22km altitude. As long as they knew roughly where to look for the target, a single TELAR vehicle should be perfectly capable of engaging it without need for external support.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 7:58 PM on July 18 [15 favorites]


My apologies.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:02 PM on July 18


To be fair, both the Kub and the Buk were available in metallic mint green paint.
posted by Kabanos at 8:11 PM on July 18 [16 favorites]


this third-rate TV movie.

It was not third rate, it was at worst second-rate, and it was not a TV movie; it was released theatrically, and if you didn't see the opening first person plane crash sequence in a theatre then you have missed one of the great theatre experiences.

As for the rest of the movie, John Varley has complained bitterly that Natalie Wood killed the movie that should have been made by dying on the set of Brainstorm, setting in motion a chain of events that ended the career of Douglas Trumbull, who had been set to direct the adaptation of Varley's novel. The people who ended up doing the project didn't have Trumbull's vision and sleptwalked through the production.
posted by localroger at 8:16 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


McCoy Pauley: very interesting, thanks! So if you have a TELAR vehicle without SNOW DRIFT, how does that affect your ability to ID different types of aircraft?
posted by rainy at 9:03 PM on July 18


School starts again next week in many Australian states. It's likely that there were families coming home from holidays.


Victorian schools returned last Monday.
List of Australians killed
The 3 Australian children were from WA & traveling with their grandfather.
My heart breaks for their relatives, esp the parents & grandmother of the children. What an unbearable loss for one family.
Several of the Australians killed were teachers (one at a school near me), a terrible loss for all of their communities, I'm sure.
Each of these lives were precious, but the losses to their communities and the lives that these educators, researchers, etc would have touched, so much potential lost, is so terribly upsetting.
posted by goshling at 9:10 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


Can we (the US) take all the soon to be retired (madness!) A-10s and send them into Ukraine wherever they're needed? Of course we'd need interceptor cover overhead like F-15Cs, but when your adversary is dropping civilian planes from the sky, you can only put up with so much.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:25 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


rainy, that's an interesting question, and not one I have the in-depth knowledge to answer. However, if I had to guess, I'd think that any IFF or transponder interrogation would be done by the search radar rather than the fire-control radar. Logically, by the time you've handed a contact off to FIRE DOME on the TELAR, you've already classified it as a hostile target. So it seems likely that a lone TELAR vehicle might be limited in its ability to recognize a civilian aircraft unless the crew stopped to think through its observed behavior. Which obviously they either didn't, or else decided that it was a Ukrainian cargo plane pretending to behave like an airliner.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 9:28 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


INNH, a transfer like that (A-10's) would take months and require training hundreds of Ukrainians. (Modern combat jets require a couple dozen man-hours of maintenance for every hour of flying time.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:07 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


VICE News has just posted Russian Roulette: Dispatch 60, with Simon Ostrovsky, their journalist who was briefly detained in Sloviansk some weeks ago. Exclusive [trigger warning: bodies, but faces blurred] footage of the crash site, interviews with people who have bodies in their gardens, and search teams in an impossibly beautiful field of sunflowers.

McCoy Pauley, some of the mindset may be illuminated by Dispatch 59 (note, currently 404 for some reason), filed a few days ago, about the military aircraft recently shot down. It sounds like it was performing a perfectly "ordinary" patrol or surveillance maneuver (approach Russian border, turn around and come back), but this perplexed the people on the ground.

InsertNiftyNameHere, not only would that represent an enormously frightening escalation of our role in the conflict thus far, it would place us in perhaps the most direct conflict with a descendant state of the Soviet Union since the end of the Cold War. I'm not sure that the one American (dual) citizen who was killed really matches the magnitude of what you're suggesting here. In any case, though they were slow to get started, and generally lack combat experience, the Ukrainian military is itself a descendant of the Red Army and may be capable, for the moment, of dealing with the situation. The fuse is, one could say, now on the other foot, but the volatility was there all along.
posted by dhartung at 10:11 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


A group of Malaysian activists across faiths are participating in #Puasa4Msia, a one-day fast in solidarity with MH17 (because it's the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan right now). It's possibly a little late notice for USA et al, but they're inviting everyone to join in.

One of the participants, Niki Cheong, wrote about the social media response to MH17 compared to MH370.
posted by divabat at 12:36 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


Bloomberg has helped to answer my earlier question about whether passengers on this flight ever knew what hit them. I'm relived to find out that the suffering of the victims was probably not prolonged. Nevertheless, a massive and needless tragedy.
posted by Vibrissae at 12:50 AM on July 19


first segment of Maddow's recent 7-18 show is also good (or download the whole show since the segment is ~20 min and leads into related discussions: entire ~40 min. show (200mb))
posted by torii hugger at 1:49 AM on July 19


Worth repeating:

'[Australian woman] Kaylene Mann lost her brother Rod Burrows and her sister-in-law Mary when MH370 mysteriously disappeared in March this year. Her step-daughter Maree Rizk and her husband Albert, from Sunbury near Melbourne, were among the Australians on flight MH17' (source).

Words fail me.
posted by brushtailedphascogale at 10:05 PM on July 18 [+] [!]


And words also fail me.
posted by evil_esto at 3:51 AM on July 19


I'm reading on the guardian that the rebels are stopping investigators from getting to the site, are taking bodies away before investigators can do their work, have removed the black box.

If true ... How in the hell is this happening? Is the international community so toothless that we will stand by and let that happen?
posted by Admira at 3:52 AM on July 19


Admira, what would you suggest?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:56 AM on July 19


I'm no expert in anything to.do with any of this... but from what I understand, the accident happened over Ukrainian soil so they should lead the investigation. If the rebels are able to take control by force, and Ukrain isn't equipped to stop that, I'm sure some of the nearly European neighbors are.

Though that drastically escalate the political situation in the region. But it feels wrong that those bodies will be deprived of dignity, the tragedy will not get the investigation it requires and the families will suffer.
posted by Admira at 4:12 AM on July 19


Actually, none of the Europeans are capable of projecting significant force into that area.

Ukraine would love to be able to control the area, but so far they can't do so. (If they could, they would have ended the rebellion a long time ago.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:26 AM on July 19


Can we (the US) take all the soon to be retired (madness!) A-10s and send them into Ukraine

For the sake of we (the rest of the world) please stop fantasising about heroically stepping in and destabilising difficult situations further with high-tech full-out proxy wars that inevitably end up multiplying the death count and regional political strife. I would have hoped that that sort of Hollywood diplomacy had been thoroughly debunked over the last several decades.
posted by forgetful snow at 4:44 AM on July 19 [30 favorites]


Actually, none of the Europeans are capable of projecting significant force into that area.

So I guess the answer to my question " Is the international community so toothless that we will stand by and let that happen?" Is yes
posted by Admira at 5:00 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


Pretty much.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:38 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


But it's a leading question, so.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:39 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


No. The international community is not willing to pay the price and accept the risks. Please beleve me, we have teeth aplenty.
posted by shothotbot at 5:45 AM on July 19 [4 favorites]


Surely there are ways to speak up about access to the crash site that don't require warfare. Even strong statements from world leaders would go a long way, if nothing else than to demonstrate that people care. Right now the only people doing so are journalists and Malaysian authorities (many of whom want the black boxes back into Malaysia).

In fact I am pretty frustrated and dismayed at how little attention has been given to Malaysia overall, except to snark at over Malaysia Airlines as though they had any say in both disasters. It's as though our losses don't matter.
posted by divabat at 7:04 AM on July 19 [14 favorites]


Russian natural gas heats Europe, and Russia has previously demonstrated willingness to react very negatively to any criticism. European leaders won't be saying or doing very much beyond the occasional plaintive whimper. Just enough noise to look like they've reacted at all.

If they're not prepared to freak out over their own dead, they're sure as hell not going to freak out over Asian dead. This isn't a meaningless gesture where they can make loud angry pronouncements that have no consequences, there would be a price to pay and they're not prepared to pay it. Gas is more important.
posted by aramaic at 7:41 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


We begin bombing in 5 minutes.....

(First time I agree with Reagan.)
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 8:10 AM on July 19


The US is in a position to badly hurt Russia economically over a period of years. All we'd have to do is to permit oil and gas drilling on federal land, open up drilling in the Gulf again, permit export of crude oil and permit building of export facilities for LNG.

Also stop delaying Keystone XL.

Then we (and the Canadians) sell to Europe and they stop buying from Russia.

But it'll have to wait until the next presidential term. Environmentalists are a big part of Obama's coalition and they'd have a tantrum. (And Steyer would stop giving the Dems money.)

Though there's some hope. The feds just reopened drilling off the East Coast.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:14 AM on July 19


I think the reporting is very US-centric, every news outlet quoting Obama etc., so in that respect every other country involved comes short (disregarding Ukraine and Russia, as directly involved as actors on the crash site).
posted by travelwithcats at 8:16 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


The Guardian: "Malaysia Airlines has released a full list of the names and nationalities of the 298 people who were on board flight MH17." (link to PDF)
posted by ringu0 at 8:19 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Chocolate Pickle: "The feds just reopened drilling off the East Coast."

Well that's wonderful for the Koch brothers etc., and they're really the only ones who matter, right?
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 8:19 AM on July 19 [7 favorites]


Surely the outcome of shutting off pipelines would be as bad, if not worse, for Russia as it would be for Europe? After all Russia isn't giving the gas away.
This could be turn out to be very bad for Putin at the polls.
posted by Flashman at 8:36 AM on July 19


Chocolate Pickle: The US is in a position to badly hurt Russia economically over a period of years. All we'd have to do is to permit oil and gas drilling on federal land, open up drilling in the Gulf again, permit export of crude oil and permit building of export facilities for LNG.

Meanwhile, back here on Earth: US Gas Will Never Replace Russian Gas For Europe
The entire set of US shale gas plays, which consist of 8 major plays and a slew of minor ones, cumulatively provide the US with 27 billion cubic feet per day. That is, just over half of the entire current US shale gas play would have to be dedicated to the European cause of eliminating Russian natural gas dependency.

And even with the shale plays, in April 2014 the US remains a net gas importer. In 2013, the most recent full year of data, the US had to import 1.3 trillion cubic feet to satisfy domestic consumption.

At this point, some might say that the ability of the US to export natural gas will rise because US domestic production is rising. While true, two things weigh on this view to render it moot.

The first is that European domestic gas production is falling...

The second is because liquefying natural gas is enormously energy-intensive and expensive. To ship vast quantities of natural gas across the Atlantic, we'd need to liquefy it first. Fully 25% of the energy embodied in natural gas (NG) is wasted during the process of turning it into a liquid (LNG). That energy is simply gone: those expended BTUs cannot ever be used for anything else.

So when it's noted that Russia supplies 5.7 trillion cubic feet, that's of ordinary gas in its rightful gaseous form (NG).

The equivalent in US gas would be (5.7/0.75) = 7.6 trillion cubic feet (of NG) to account for the energy loss in the liquefying process (to make LNG).

In short, LNG is just an energetically stupid thing to do. It is wasteful.
...
The final nail in the "US will supply Europe's gas" coffin is simple economics.

US LNG could be produced and shipped for about $9 per thousand cubic feet. Russia produces theirs for $.50 for the same amount and can sell it for a price well below $9 for as long as they wish.

People investing in an LNG terminal are tying up billions and billions in the project. They cannot invest in such a project because Europe might need gas for the next 2 or even 20 months because of temporary hostilities with Russia. They need 20 years of expected profitable sales to justify the expense.

Who thinks that the West is in any position to place a 20+ year permanent ban on Russian energy exports to Europe? Anybody?
posted by tonycpsu at 8:36 AM on July 19 [22 favorites]


"I think the reporting is very US-centric, every news outlet quoting Obama etc., so in that respect every other country involved comes short (disregarding Ukraine and Russia, as directly involved as actors on the crash site).
posted by travelwithcats at 8:16 AM on July 19 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


Yes. Also, I shuddered when Obama made a statement that the number one priority was the American lives lost. Or something to that effect. Kind of like, fuck you Dutch people.

It really didn't sit well with me.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:37 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


Also stop delaying Keystone XL.

The current holdup is due in part to landowners suing to prevent the government from taking their land and giving it to the private company running the pipeline. It's remarkable how quickly conservatives have come around on the Kelo decision.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:59 AM on July 19 [6 favorites]


The situation on site is apparently getting worse. The Guardian gathered several reports about bodies being moved and taken away. The rebels don't allow the OSCE observers to get close to the site, restrict their movements and even fired warning shots when they got too close to the bodies.
posted by travelwithcats at 9:14 AM on July 19


There's no chance we go to war with Russia or even Russian separatists over a downed airliner. Three hundred people is a tragedy, but war with Russia is gambling with the lives of billions.
posted by empath at 9:24 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


InsertNiftyNameHere: "We begin bombing in 5 minutes.....

(First time I agree with Reagan.)
"

Senility is setting in.
posted by Reverend John at 9:56 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


You could probably heat Germany without Russian gas but you would need to shut down BASF and Bayer to do it. But actually nat gas consumption has been declining slowly.
posted by JPD at 9:58 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Eh. We post zero hedge links now?
posted by JPD at 10:03 AM on July 19


JPD: Eh. We post zero hedge links now?

Perhaps instead of questioning the source, you could engage with the argument on the merits.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:05 AM on July 19


“We are not going to take away these boxes, we are not going to violate the rules existing with regard to this sort of cases within the international community,” he [Lavrov] said."

That's a statement from Russia, the one European (yes) country that is able to project force in the area. I fear that it will use its influence to disappear the black boxes (essentially order its agents to hand them over) and then claim that since the black boxes disappeared in Ukraine, obviously Ukrainians - doesn't matter, rebels or the military - have something to hide, and Russia never had anything to do with this whole situation, this was Ukrainians fighting among themselves from the beginning, how unfortunate.
posted by hat_eater at 10:08 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Kind of like, fuck you Dutch people.

And fuck you Malaysians too, by omission?

(see the problem? even in responding to my frustrations about Malaysians being overlooked, the Malaysians are being overlooked.)
posted by divabat at 10:30 AM on July 19 [5 favorites]


Zerohedge is a ridiculous conspiracy website and that article is completely a straw man. I've never heard it seriously suggested by actual energy people that US LNG could replace all of gazprom to Europe.

The solution is something like: reduced consumption + fracking in Europe and or LNG from West Africa and the Gulf.

The idea LNG is a Pipe dream is silly. Its how Japan gets most of its Nat Gas.
posted by JPD at 10:32 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


I shuddered when Obama made a statement that the number one priority was the American lives lost.

You realize he was elected as President of the United States, and not the World, right? And he didn't say nothing else mattered, he said, "Right now we're working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority." Meaning the first thing to do.

I feel there's a Fox News denseness settling in among the American public. Greta von Susteren tweeted that she was hearing from people on the street that they want us to "strike back". Strike whom? With what? To what purpose? Especially when US casualties were much lower than the number 23 that went around at first.

Surely there are ways to speak up about access to the crash site that don't require warfare. Even strong statements from world leaders would go a long way, if nothing else than to demonstrate that people care.

You have to realize that the separatists are in a very isolated mindset already. They have rejected a European-monitored election and have even taken neutral observers from the OSCE hostage. They've been subjected to months (years?) of propaganda which paints "Europe" as not a group of mostly inoffensive countries who are focused on mostly other things, but as a fascist hegemony bent on the destruction of "Greater Russia" and corrupted by (yes) homosexuality. The effect of the civil war has been the creation of a victim mentality where civilians have contempt for Kiev and resentment against the world for allowing them to be brutalized. Since we're now arguably in the realm of war crimes for which their leaders will never be accepted in the world community, on the assumption that they might one day achieve some measure of autonomy, their only recourse is embrace by Russia. To some extent, this is exactly what Putin set out to achieve.

But that's the point. They already have a champion, in Mother Russia. They aren't like many breakaway movements who are seeking the respect and support of the world, so they aren't looking outward in the way that many other dissident movements have. The world that operates through the conventional channels of the UN, the OSCE, and the EU, to them is all lies and betrayal. The influence of the world, here, is primarily going to be what leverage we can further place on Moscow -- not on its paranoid and violent proxies.

This could be turn out to be very bad for Putin at the polls.

*snort*

Seriously, he absolutely thrives on this, domestically. I'm quite sure the man is not himself deluded, but the Russian public is certainly buying his line of nostalgia for the Soviet Union (the good parts only, of course). An incident of this sort actually plays right into that mindset.

(First time I agree with Reagan.)

You're speaking as if the Cold War, under which hundreds of millions of people lived with the threat of annihilation, was some sort of lark. You do realize that while the propaganda had it that we had to worry about a Soviet first strike, that was never actually part of their doctrine and only at the outer bounds perhaps even within their capability -- that the only superpower that had both the capability and a first strike doctrine was the United States?

In any case force projection here -- to the extent it might be discussed -- should be for the purpose of a) preventing further incidents, b) securing the site for recovery and investigation, and c) bringing legally implicated suspects to justice. Since a) is easily solved by simply not routing commercial air traffic where it can get shot down it isn't actually a serious problem. Point b) is rapidly becoming moot as the site is compromised and evidence is looted, disturbed, or deliberately vamoosed. As for c) the world can be patient; recall how many years we waited to prosecute Serbian war criminals.

I don't get this desperate we-must-cut-off-Russia urgency. There isn't actually that much urgency. Again, they're not going to get another chance to shoot down another jetliner; this isn't an al Qaeda with global reach, but an insurgency that barely controls maybe 5-8% of Ukraine and then dubiously. Containment of the problem is sufficient for now. Which brings us to:

Ukraine would love to be able to control the area, but so far they can't do so. (If they could, they would have ended the rebellion a long time ago.)

You need to think more strategically about this. The Ukrainians did have a rough start, but they have actually been succeeding fairly well, and this is important, thanks to air superiority in the field. This is precisely why the rebels needed to upgrade from MANPADS to the Buk SAMs, to degrade the air superiority of the Ukrainian air force. Frankly, it was the only way the insurgency could continue to be effective beyond a few more weeks (maybe months in some pockets) -- they had already lost numerous supposed strongholds and the Ukrainian ATOs were moving closer and closer to the Russian border near Luhansk, with the prospect of cutting off any Russian support from that thus-far very porous border.

Kind of like, fuck you Dutch people.

Again, he ain't the President of the World. Can we drop this divisive bullshit?
posted by dhartung at 10:36 AM on July 19 [45 favorites]


I just checked the numbers to be sure. Japan already imports more LNG annually than all of Germany's nat gas consumption. And the Germans still have the Dutch and Norwegians to provide a big chunk of supply.
posted by JPD at 10:39 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


JPD: Zerohedge is a ridiculous conspiracy website and that article is completely a straw man. I've never heard it seriously suggested by actual energy people that US LNG could replace all of gazprom to Europe.

The "by actual energy people" qualifier is doing a lot of work here. Real-life politicians do actually say this, and the conceit behind Chocolate Pickle's comment was that we could do a non-trivial amount of damage to Russia's economy by implementing every item from the wingnut energy wish list. The ZH article was responding to the "drill baby drill" mentality and people like Chocolate Pickle who think it's merely a matter of opening up every single domestic source of energy to the world market. It's just not that simple.

The idea LNG is a Pipe dream is silly. Its how Japan gets most of its Nat Gas.

Because it has no other viable options. Europe has this other option -- Russia -- to get more efficient NG without the 25% loss. Combine that with the fact that our exports would cost Europeans 18 times what imports from Russia currently cost, and there is simply no viable path forward for replacing any substantial amount of Russia's imports with ours.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:41 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


divabat, I think the Dutch were mentioned in the context of that comment because the majority of people on that flight was from the Netherlands.
Obviously, every single one of those 298 on board matters. It must be devastating for Malaysia to go through such a tragedy twice this year and for MAS to lose two sets of flight crew and two airplanes in such short succession.
posted by travelwithcats at 10:44 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


"We support the people of Malaysia through this crisis and will do as much as we can to help them during this time."

Nothing about where people stand on Ukraine or Russia needed. Just state your support for a country that's just dealt with the worst disaster they've had possibly ever.

We're not a sidebar.
posted by divabat at 10:55 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Right now there's way more attention being placed on the Australian victims, for instance, than the Malaysians. The Dutch guy who snarked about missing planes on Facebook is getting a ton of attention; the Malay guy who instagrammed the boarding process and talked about being scared got a Buzzfeed article but is largely forgotten outside Malaysian social media.
posted by divabat at 11:00 AM on July 19


Spot LNG is 14 bucks mmbtu in Japan. But let's use 20 as our benchmark. That equates to 700 per Thousand Cubic Meter. If you google around you can find some guesses that Gazprom is charging something like 350-300 per TCM. So yeah. Not like 18x.
posted by JPD at 11:02 AM on July 19


We're talking production cost, not spot cost. Russia can always lower its prices to compete. The ZH article quotes production cost figures of $9.00/kcf in the U.S and $0.50/kcf in Russia. That's the 18x figure.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:07 AM on July 19


But if Russia is forced to reduce its price, plus if its sales quantity is reduced (even if not to zero) then Russia is hurt economically.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:15 AM on July 19


Huh. No that logic makes zero sense. You aren't bailing on gazprom because of price. That doesn't make sense. And yeah ZH crazy conspiracy site as I told you ...US Nat gas price according to the EIA is around 5. Not 9.

BTW have you heard my favorite conspiracy story ? That Gazprom funds greens in Europe to fight Fracking.
posted by JPD at 11:16 AM on July 19


JPD: And yeah ZH crazy conspiracy site as I told you

You keep saying that, but aren't disputing the central facts that U.S. imports to Europe would be far more expensive

To be clear, the author of the ZH piece is factoring in the cost of shipping LNG to Europe in the $9.00/kcf number. So even if your $5 figure is closer to the actual domestic production cost, it doesn't magically appear in Germany, it has to get there -- which means, as the ZH piece also points out, there need to be LNG terminals constructed, which costs money. You keep trying to use current numbers that don't take into account the fact that Europe getting LNG from us has significant capital investment that has to be paid for by higher prices.

We can quibble about the actual numbers, but $5.00/kcf is still greater than $0.50/kcf even if there were no additional cost to get the LNG to Europe. Someone has to invest in the infrastructure and wait many years for the permits, construction, etc. Who's going to do that with, at minimum, a 10x price disparity?

We get it -- you don't like Zero Hedge. But please stop pretending the data is on your side.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:26 AM on July 19


TonyCpsu, there is market value in reliability of a supplier. People will be willing to pay more for product from a supplier who doesn't shut off the valve unexpectedly, for political reasons.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:34 AM on July 19


... first segment of Maddow's recent 7-18 show is also good ... entire ~40 min. show (200mb))

I continue to be impressed with Rachel Maddow, in general and on this story. If you don't want to bother pulling down and watching the video, they also provide an audio-only RSS feed here, just 10 MB if you've got slow Internet. (Warning: They only keep the most recent show up, no back issues.)

Last night's show mentioned that for a while one of the Russian state-affiliated media was running the story that the real target had been Putin, i.e. that the Ukrainians mistook the Malaysian Air plane for a Russian one, thought that Putin was on it, and they shot it down. Yeesh.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:35 AM on July 19


benito.strauss: "Last night's show mentioned that for a while one of the Russian state-affiliated media was running the story that the real target had been Putin"

That's just insane. However I don't doubt some Russian people believed it given some of the birthers, truthers, etc. in the USA.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 11:44 AM on July 19


No. You just don't understand the equation.

In your earlier quote you implied that costs were .5 per mmbtu for Russia (which is correct at the well head - which isn't where you are buying it, and you aren't being offered that price even if you were) and $9 per mmbtu for US (landed and regassed in Europe - Belgium probably, tho he doesn't say that) - both those numbers are correct however they are comparing apples and oranges. But yes still - Gazprom absolutely can always provide cheaper gas than LNG - even if the LNG is coming from Qatar where local Nat Gas is essentially free - because the cost of gassing and regassing and transit is something like $5 -$6 per mmbtu. And Gazprom can probably survive at half of that - although that would create massive issues for Russia - but that's not really germane.

But the argument isn't that.

Its "we're going to fire Gazprom as a supplier because we can't trust them as a supply source" - so the only question that matters is "What would the price be of the substitutes we would replace Gazprom with compared to what we pay for gas today" So bear in mind the price Germany is paying today is something like 300-350 per Thousand Cubic Meter. There are 35 MMBTU per TCM - so $8.57 to $10 per MMBTU. So replacing that with US Gas - not a bad deal.

Except, here's where ZH is not full of shit for once - the US doesn't have enough excess gas to supply all of Europe.
In reality the solution could be (in addition to continued roll-out of solar to decrease nat gas demand from power) -Some combination of LNG from West Africa, Middle East, the US, and Maybe SEA. Perhaps some local unconventional/fracked production.

If it ends up being SEA as the marginal supplier It'll end up being a few bucks more per MMBTU then they are paying today.

My personal opinion is that this will take a reasonably long period of time and that it'll end with SEA as the marginal supplier. But I wouldn't bet on that.
posted by JPD at 11:45 AM on July 19 [4 favorites]


divabat:
Yesterday I spoke with the leaders of Ukraine, Malaysia and the Netherlands, and I told them that our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and that the American people stand with them during this difficult time. -- Transcript: President Obama’s July 18 statement on Ukraine and Gaza

You're not a sidebar, but also keep in mind there are other things on the President's plate even just internationally, not to mention that domestically the House is preparing to take him to court over Obamacare.

People will be willing to pay more for product from a supplier who doesn't shut off the valve unexpectedly, for political reasons.

The only country which has been subjected to this is Ukraine itself. Russia is reckless, perhaps, but not dumb.

benito.strauss: Yes, that seems to be one of the leading theories among those who don't simply take the simplest route of assuming the entire thing is a frame-up of Russia. Then there's the "frozen bodies" conspiracy theory. As I've pointed out the entirety of Russian-language media is pretty much in Putin's pocket one way or another, and the country as a whole is in a very jingoistic mood following the "loss" of Ukraine and the "saving" of Crimea -- ready to believe anything, and with few means to get that view challenged in any substantive way. I have a Russian-American friend who is very anti-Putin, and watching him argue on Facebook with his still-in-Russia cousins has been eye-opening. Even people who might go to an anti-Putin demonstration are backing Putin's course of action on Ukraine.

As to the LNG discussion, I'm tuning out as it's sounding more and more like Bitcoin or Roko's Basilisk. It just isn't a realistic discussion and an energy price war would be disastrous for the world economy, which is why we've had to push, pull, shove, and drag other countries into the tiniest of incremental increases in existing sanctions. And none of that involves building new hookups or supply lines.
posted by dhartung at 11:52 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


How does it sound like bitcoin? The alternative supply solution is costly but real and creates catastrophic damage to Putin. Its not a coincidence that when one of Baltics built a regas faculty Gazprom cut its prices 40% or that the UK which has regas capability payts the lowest price in Europe for Russian Gas. Realistically German Sanctions are the only thing that can hurt Putin. If the Germans do nothing real he's essentially won.
posted by JPD at 12:06 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


The photo of the bullet-headed unshaven militia holding up a teddy bear from the wreckage while smoking a cigarette... words fail me.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:07 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


JPD, it sounds like Bitcoin because you guys are arguing in circles about minutiae, which seems maybe a bit out of place in a thread about such an unmitigated tragedy.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:09 PM on July 19 [4 favorites]


I don't have any opinion on the geopolitics of this or LNG exports or we should bomb them or Obama is the world's spokesman or whatever bullshit, but the fact of the matter is the families of the victims will likely never get any closure. They will likely never know where the final resting place of their loved ones are, or how much of an indignity their remains were subjected to by a bunch of armed thugs. I don't speak Russian, but I imagine these guys sound like one of Tony's crew from the Sopranos.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:12 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


I'm not just talking about Obama. I'm talking internationally, especially since everyone here is going "but EUROPE!".
posted by divabat at 12:19 PM on July 19


It's possible the bodies are being taken to an undisclosed location so they are safe from looters and drunk Russian "fighters," I guess. Gosh, I hope it's something like that.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:33 PM on July 19


WSJ: Ukraine Knew of Separatists' Air-Defense Capabilities, Say Officials. Claims Raise Questions of Why Ukraine Failed to Close Airspace.
posted by Nelson at 12:39 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Putin’s Deadly Doctrine - ‘Protecting’ Russians in Ukraine Has Fatal Consequences
In 1994, I was half asleep at a round table in St. Petersburg, Russia, when a short, thickset man with a rather ratlike face — apparently a sidekick of the city’s mayor — suddenly piped up. Russia, he said, had voluntarily given up “huge territories” to the former republics of the Soviet Union, including areas “which historically have always belonged to Russia.” He was thinking “not only about Crimea and northern Kazakhstan, but also for example about the Kaliningrad area.” Russia could not simply abandon to their fate those “25 million Russians” who now lived abroad. The world had to respect the interests of the Russian state “and of the Russian people as a great nation.”

The name of this irritating little man was — you guessed it — Vladimir V. Putin, and I know exactly what he said back in 1994 because the organizers, the Körber Foundation of Hamburg, Germany, published a full transcript. For the phrase that I have translated as “the Russian people,” the German transcript uses the word “volk.” Mr. Putin seemed to have, and still has, an expansive, völkisch definition of “Russians” — or what he now refers to as the “russkiy mir” (literally “Russian world”). The transcript also records that I teased out the consequences of the then-obscure deputy mayor’s vision by saying, “If we defined British nationality to include all English-speaking people, we would have a state slightly larger than China.”
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:49 PM on July 19 [5 favorites]


Of course, Russia's actions in the Ukraine are all about protecting Russians.
posted by empath at 12:54 PM on July 19


Surely the outcome of shutting off pipelines would be as bad, if not worse, for Russia as it would be for Europe? After all Russia isn't giving the gas away.
This could be turn out to be very bad fpor Putin at the polls.


Because of Putin, Europe can't allow themselves to be too dependent on Russia. It will take time, but Europe must develop alternative energy suppliers. Russia will supply more gas to China too fill the gap I imagine. I wonder if China would object to having the majority of SEA LNG go to Europe.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:17 PM on July 19


The photo of the bullet-headed unshaven militia holding up a teddy bear from the wreckage while smoking a cigarette... words fail me.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:07 PM on July 19 [+] [!]


Is this the one with the toy monkey? I saw on Twitter ( can't find link now; most Twitter commentary is condemning the photo as an outrage - suggestions of looting/disrespect etc.) someone said that this was a scene from an impromptu militia-run "memorial ceremony" (there's video somewhere online apparently). They made a makeshift crucifix for the ceremony. Maybe sincere, maybe for the journalists' benefit, maybe a mix of both... but not well thought out and seems to have backfired badly on Twitter though.
posted by Bwithh at 1:20 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Of course, Russia's actions in the Ukraine are all about protecting Russians.

FTFY
posted by LooseFilter at 1:22 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


seems to have backfired badly on Twitter though.

They shot a civilian aircraft out of the sky, killing 295 people and ripping holes in their families, they refuse to allow neutral investigators on the scene, there appears to be looting and God only knows where the bodies are being taken to... and 'backfired badly on Twitter' is somehow relevant? Like, seriously?

someone said that this was a scene from an impromptu militia-run "memorial ceremony"

Holding a memorial ceremony, if that is indeed what is happening in that picture, for the innocent people you and/or your compatriots murdered is... well I'd say "in poor taste" but that doesn't even come close.

If it was a memorial, the best way to actually memorialize these people is to find out who was operating that damn missile bank, take them prisoner, and turn them over to authorities in the Netherlands or Malaysia. Not posting some photo of yourself holding a toy that used to belong to a murdered child.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:28 PM on July 19 [6 favorites]


WSJ: Ukraine Knew of Separatists' Air-Defense Capabilities, Say Officials. Claims Raise Questions of Why Ukraine Failed to Close Airspace.
posted by Nelson at 12:39 PM on July 19 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


looks like the pro-Russian conspiracy theorists have a more reality-based foothold now (what they say still most likely be false, but now they can say WSJ/Western press said this and this implies... rather than rely on RT & Russian propaganda etc.)
posted by Bwithh at 1:31 PM on July 19


TNR on Joep Lange:
Lange, the 2002–2004 president of the International AIDS Society, was one of those among the confirmed dead. A key figure in the Netherlands' outsized contribution in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Lange was one of the world’s most distinguished researchers in this area. An early proponent of combination therapy in HIV treatment, he was a leader in efforts to make HIV medications accessible to low-income patients around the world. ...

Today’s New York Times includes an old quote from Lange, in which he said: “If we can get a cold can of Coke to any part of Africa, we can certainly deliver AIDS treatment.” In the year 2000, Lange founded the PharmAccess Foundation to improve drug access in sub-Saharan Africa.

This vision caught the imagination of President George W. Bush, among others. At that time, many people believed that the obstacles to providing high-quality care in low-resource environments would prove too severe. I was one of those skeptics. Fortunately, people like Bush and Lange proved the skeptics wrong. The efforts of Lange and others contributed to dramatic improvement in HIV prevention, treatment, and care around the world. These efforts made possible the one genuinely shining accomplishment of George W. Bush’s presidency: the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has saved millions of lives. ...

Global HIV/AIDS deaths have markedly declined in recent years—in no small part because of the contributions made by Lange and many others. Still, around the world 4,400 adults and children will die of AIDS today. The work goes on.

Ironically, some of the world’s greatest HIV/AIDS challenges reside 30,000 feet below the point where MH17 was apparently shot down. Ukraine, like Russia, confronts terribly high rates of HIV infection and illness among people who inject drugs. Both Ukraine and Russia made their HIV/AIDS problems so much worse than these problems would otherwise have been. First the Soviet Union, then post-Soviet regimes, rejected humane, evidence-based HIV prevention policies such as methadone maintenance therapies and syringe exchange.

In both Russia and Ukraine, people who inject drugs and men who have sex with men face cruel discrimination and lack of treatment access that accelerates an already-awful epidemic. Xenophobic rejection of presumed-Western HIV prevention approaches and blunt denial of LGBT rights remain key obstacles. These are different forms of brutal incompetence than the kind that blows a plane from the sky. They are no less lethal. Indeed they’ve already cost more lives.
posted by John Cohen at 1:34 PM on July 19 [11 favorites]


and 'backfired badly on Twitter' is somehow relevant? Like, seriously?

I'm talking about the intentions of that particular militia "officer/leader" on the ground. Of course
managing opinion on international media, including social media, is relevant, distasteful as that might be.

I don't know in what exact timeframe the photo/video was taken, and I don't know to what extent the pro-Russian militia forces there as a whole operate in a coherent unified way (obviously there seems to be substantial covert trained/organized Russian element there, but lots of local and imported random hotheads and hangers on too)
posted by Bwithh at 1:36 PM on July 19


JPD: No. You just don't understand the equation.

I acknowledged above that $0.50 vs. $9.00 was not apples-to-apples, but you simply can't focus on current market prices in Germany while ignoring a 10-fold premium in production cost. The ZH post's point was that getting enough US LNG to Europe requires a significant investment, and that investment doesn't happen when the investors know that Russia can simply lower its price to remain competitive with increased U.S. exports. Even if the U.S. supply problems we both agree exist weren't a problem, there would be many more challenges.

The point here, still not undermined by any of your data about the current prices people are paying in Germany, is that Russia's much lower production cost and proximity to Europe gives them a huge advantage that would be very difficult to overcome. Can increased U.S. supply begin to make in-roads in Europe and get some diversification of Europe imports? Of course it can. Is this going to be enough, as Chocolate Pickle asserted, to "badly hurt" Russia? I don't see a strong case for that, and that's what I was arguing against.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:40 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


this tribute to Joep Lange and other HIV/AIDS researchers on board MH17 adds context for his work as part of the "Young Turks" of Dutch HIV/AIDS research who really were/are international trailblazers:

"A Tweeter asked me if the loss of Joep, Glenn, and other AIDS researchers and activists possibly on board MH17 would prove a major set-back in the fight against AIDS. No, I said. One of the glories of the AIDS community is that its bench is deep, its talents enormous, and its sorry history of processing grief and moving on is unparalleled. The dead, as has always been the case since this awful virus emerged in the late 1970s, will be mourned. And then energies will be mustered, to get the job done.

Until there is a cure.
"
posted by Bwithh at 1:41 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


Kremlin-backed insurgents now claim Malaysia Airlines plane was carrying corpses

According to Girkin, the plane’s passengers were already dead when the plane went down.

“I just talked to two people who were gathering corpses, both from Shakhtarsk (the city where the plane crashed) so they came to the spot only 30 minutes after the tragedy. I am writing from their words. They said many corpses were totally bloodless and looked like blood had clotted long before the catastrophe,” the leader of Russian backed insurgents wrote.


This is definitely not, say, the most offensively stupid of all possible reactions.

It would be funny if it weren't so utterly vile. This sort of argument deserves to remain in the realm of comedy.
posted by clockzero at 1:42 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Of course managing opinion on international media, including social media, is relevant, distasteful as that might be

No, it's really, really not relevant that they got 'backlash' on Twitter. They're part of the same group that murdered all those innocents.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:43 PM on July 19


On the subject of gas costs in Europe: "On Russia's subsidies to Ukraine calculated by Vladimir Putin." It's from some website I've never heard of before, which puts it well ahead of Zero Hedge in credibility.
posted by sfenders at 1:45 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


The Missile That Will End the War: Why the downing of MH17 is the beginning of the end for Ukraine’s separatists and a nightmare for Vladimir Putin. [FP, login may be required]

Bwithh, it's not exactly a conspiracy theory to ask why civil air authorities were slow to realize the risks being taken here. It does jibe with a rather sane interpretation of the frame-up theory (i.e. Ukraine hoped for a civilian disaster to bring sympathy to itself and/or (what has happened) wrath unto the rebels). But we can't help it if facts coordinate with a conspiracy theory.

The photo of the bullet-headed unshaven militia holding up a teddy bear from the wreckage while smoking a cigarette... words fail me.

When you look at the way people were poking sticks into the wreckage of the Ukrainian cargo plane (Russian Roulette 59), it's positively civilized, frankly. "This is probably a head." No, I'm not kidding.
posted by dhartung at 1:45 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


The more parsimonious explanation is that Ukranian authorities didn't think the rebels were monstrous enough to shoot down a civilian airliner, IMO.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:48 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


It's amazing how much the wackos on every side think alike. The "already dead" defense was used previously by some Russians with regards to KAL007 and some Americans regarding Iran Air Flight 655. Seems pretty analogous to some of the 9-11 truther theories as well.

I can never really tell if the people making these incredible claims are ever really serious. Sadly, I suspect that many who repeat such stuff actually do believe it.
posted by jclarkin at 1:49 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


They've been subjected to months (years?) of propaganda which paints "Europe" as not a group of mostly inoffensive countries who are focused on mostly other things, but as a fascist hegemony bent on the destruction of "Greater Russia" and corrupted by (yes) homosexuality.

There's literally nothing science fiction writers can't make worse.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:49 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]



Of course managing opinion on international media, including social media, is relevant, distasteful as that might be

No, it's really, really not relevant that they got 'backlash' on Twitter. They're part of the same group that murdered all those innocents.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:43 PM on July 19 [+] [!]


Well, OK, if one treats the disaster and crime as totally above the struggles of politics and how they're communicated and interpreted, I guess the perspective you favour is correct.
posted by Bwithh at 1:49 PM on July 19


Bwithh, it's not exactly a conspiracy theory to ask why civil air authorities were slow to realize the risks being taken here.

Yeah, my comment was not well written - I don't mean that asking that kind of question is conspiracy-mongering at all, or that the article is conspiracy theorizing. Just meant it was fuel for conspiracy theorizing that was comparatively less crazy than some of the stuff we've seen so far.
posted by Bwithh at 1:52 PM on July 19


Bwithh, not really interested in having a conversation with someone who twists my words and talks down to me, thanks.

I can never really tell if the people making these incredible claims are ever really serious.

I think for those at the top, it's the Big Lie theory.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:56 PM on July 19


Civilian aircraft should not be permitted to fly over a war zone where numerous planes have already been shot out of the sky. As Rumple mentioned above, right now somewhere in Ukraine an ATC bureaucrat must be dying of guilt and remorse.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:01 PM on July 19


Is this the one with the toy monkey?

Yeah, that's the one. Holy shit that image will stick with me for the rest of my life.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:03 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Where military planes have been shot out of the sky. My understanding of the conflict to date is that the rebels have been steering pretty clear of killing civilians. Is that incorrect?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:04 PM on July 19


sfenders: On the subject of gas costs in Europe: "On Russia's subsidies to Ukraine calculated by Vladimir Putin." It's from some website I've never heard of before, which puts it well ahead of Zero Hedge in credibility.

I carry no brief for Zero Hedge, but I don't see any info at your link that contradicts anything in the ZH post, which was clear that the $0.50/kcf number was the production cost in Russia, not the spot price in Germany.

Nobody is disputing that Germany is currently paying in the $10 range for gas now. The point is that, assuming a current U.S. production cost of $5, the 25% loss due to conversion to LNG, and the distribution cost, U.S. imports can't be competitive when Russia can simply slash their price and still turn a profit with such low costs for extraction. The hypothetical question of how much this would hurt them is rendered moot by the fact that no sane investor is going to take the chance on a multi-year investment in infrastructure in the hopes that they can overcome Russia's many advantages in supplying the European market.

Also keep in mind that a lot of these newer domestic shale plays are going to be more expensive. We're getting the easy stuff now -- the more we extract, the more we have to work to get it, so the production costs go up.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:07 PM on July 19


The point here, still not undermined by any of your data about the current prices people are paying in Germany, is that Russia's much lower production cost and proximity to Europe gives them a huge advantage that would be very difficult to overcome. Can increased U.S. supply begin to make in-roads in Europe and get some diversification of Europe imports? Of course it can. Is this going to be enough, as Chocolate Pickle asserted, to "badly hurt" Russia? I don't see a strong case for that, and that's what I was arguing against.

I don't know how this can be made any clearer to you. If you are abandoning Russia as a source of supply because you don't trust them it doesn't matter what price they can charge you, it just matters what price they are charging you at the time you made the decision to bail on them.

Also proximity doesn't matter - because the prices we're talking about are in Europe.

Besides - the way this goes down is more a play than anything else. The Germans announce a big regas plan, Merkel calls BASF, Bayer, E.On, et al. and tells them to throw some capital into the biz. The hire some engineering firms to draw up plans, they build the facilities slowly, don't lock in supply contracts but have conversations about them with like the Qatari government or something. Putin gets the picture.
posted by JPD at 2:10 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


JPD: I don't know how this can be made any clearer to you. If you are abandoning Russia as a source of supply because you don't trust them it doesn't matter what price they can charge you, it just matters what price they are charging you at the time you made the decision to bail on them.

Well that's not true -- nobody abandons a business partner because they're untrustworthy, they abandon them when the potential risk of them being untrustworthy is no longer justified by the price that they're paying. Russia lowering the price would absolutely help European nations overcome their concerns about Russia's politics.

Of course there's a point at which you do walk away even if it costs you more from someone else, but that's not the argument Chocolate Pickle was making. Drilling more domestically will not significantly hurt Russia. That's the point I was arguing against. You can continue to make your tangential points, some of which are certainly valid, but not what I came here to discuss.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:16 PM on July 19


I can never really tell if the people making these incredible claims are ever really serious.

There seems to be science backing the idea that for some people, believing something contrary to their interests or worldview is nearly impossible. It's a huge blow to those of us who still hold the Enlightenment dear, of course, but something to be expected as a matter of course.

Dropping this here: Malaysia Airlines MH17 Resource Page (Johnny Jet the Travel Insider)

Chaos At Malaysia Airlines Crash Site Leaves Victims By The Roadside

Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, similar to the semantic distinctions of "Ukraine" and "the Ukraine", the location of the disaster on the ground is usually reported as Grabovo -- but that's the Russian spelling/pronunciation, and the Ukrainian equivalent is Hrabove^. The former is used by most international media I've seen in recognition that this is a generally Russian-speaking part of the country.

feckless, the rebels certainly don't feel civilian lives are being spared (and the rebels are not attacking non-rebel territory, so the other side of that is largely moot), but I really think this was more a case of bureaucracy failing to keep up with quickly-changing events than anything else. A number of entities ranging from Malaysian Airlines, the pilots, local air traffic, and the ICAO all seem to have been asleep at the switch as the war changed character. It's only in the last week that major military aircraft have been targeted at altitude. I don't think this can be laid at any one desk, unfortunately. (I think it's silly that now everybody's avoiding all of Ukraine, but for business purposes ranging from customer relations to, perhaps, insurance, that's inevitable now. There are really only two, and arguably a penumbra of four or five, oblasts that are dangerous in that way.)

divabat, I'm sorry you're feeling slighted, but I can only say that one of my first reactions was to retweet Mufti Ismail Menk: Malaysians are being tested in a great way. Special prayers, deepest condolences and sympathies to the "Nation of Love". Sad crash of #MH17
Although I find there are other views of his I cannot agree with.
I believe most of what you're seeing is a natural consequence of the news cycle and the appearance, for many countries (in the sphere of English-speaking media), of victims with local affiliation.
posted by dhartung at 2:17 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


JPD and tonycpu, perhaps you could take it to memail? Or make a new ffp to discuss it? Seems pretty tone deaf to be arguing about fuel prices here.
posted by futz at 2:24 PM on July 19 [19 favorites]


Where military planes have been shot out of the sky. My understanding of the conflict to date is that the rebels have been steering pretty clear of killing civilians. Is that incorrect?

Militaries sometimes make erroneous or mistaken decisions. You can see this by looking at the significant rates of friendly fire incidents in most conflicts. Equipment can also malfunction. Civilian aircraft shouldn't fly where SAM's are actively being launched. If I must turn off my cell phone during landing when it poses essentially no risk and Boeing engineers do everything they possibly can to prevent any risk of a fatal accident, it isn't too much of me to ask that the plane not needlessly fly through a war zone, imo.

In this instance I actually suspect the Russian military personnel operating the launcher thought they were enforcing a no fly zone and presumed no civilian aircraft were being allowed to fly over Donetsk, and therefore didn't check their target very carefully. But I'm sure it's also possible there actually was a military target in the area as well and the radar operator or radar itself confused the targets.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:25 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


I think the LNG discussion is relevant.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:27 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


So they've been steering clear of attacking civilians. Meaning, like I said, the more parsimonious theory is that Ukrainian authorities didn't believe the rebels would suddenly start doing so.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:28 PM on July 19


But they should have known the risk of an unintended accident was way too high to allow planes to fly over Donetsk.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:31 PM on July 19


Just going in circles now. Agree to disagree.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:32 PM on July 19


When you look at the way people were poking sticks into the wreckage of the Ukrainian cargo plane

I find it entirely surreal that townspeople are just poking through the wreckage of the downed Malaysian plane. Or that the local volunteer firefighter brigade was hosing off the smoking remains, undoubtedly washing away (although most likely unintentionally) crucial evidence of what brought down the plane.

What a clusterfuck war is.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:35 PM on July 19


futz: JPD and tonycpu, perhaps you could take it to memail? Or make a new ffp to discuss it? Seems pretty tone deaf to be arguing about fuel prices here.

I'm happy to take the LNG talk to MeMail, but strongly resent the notion that talking about the economic lifeblood of the economy of one of the nation states alleged to be involved in the attack is "tone deaf." I'm well aware there's a human tragedy here and am deeply saddened by it, but once we mourn the dead, it's entirely proper to start asking questions about the geopolitics of the situation, how we got to the point where something like this can happen, and how the international community can work together to reduce conflict in the region. Economic pressure is one way to do this, and we know that Russia responds to economic incentives in the natural gas market. Talking about this now is certainly on topic, but if people want to focus on other things, I'm happy to take the discussion elsewhere, or simply drop it.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:41 PM on July 19 [7 favorites]


There also has been little discussion in this thread about how what was essentially US interference led to the revolution (or whatever you want to call it) this past winter and on to the present situation itself. While I do not think the US is in control of every little thing in this world, this is not just a Russian-made problem.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:03 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


There also has been little discussion in this thread about how what was essentially US interference led to the revolution...

Really? Please elaborate, because I think we must be living on different Earths, but through some dimensional anomaly are posting in the same Metafilter thread.
posted by Behemoth at 3:17 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


I'm happy to take the LNG talk to MeMail, but strongly resent the notion that talking about the economic lifeblood of the economy of one of the nation states alleged to be involved in the attack is "tone deaf."

The topic may be relevant, but at this point, the conversation seems to have devolved into irate squabbling over minutia, and this thread might not be the best venue for that.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:26 PM on July 19 [4 favorites]


Don’t Blame Malaysia Airlines: Flight 17 didn’t shoot itself down.
posted by monospace at 3:27 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


what was essentially US interference led to the revolution (or whatever you want to call it) this past winter and on to the present situation itself.

Unless you are saying Euromaidan was a CIA operation or something I think that seems way off base. The West did very little to object to Yanuchovich's decision to dump the EU and join the Eurasian Union. It was only after Euromaidan that the protesters forced the West to support Ukraine in making their own decisions. And the protest movement was actually very progressive if you look at it - they wanted rule of law, less corruption, and real democracy. There were pro-euro fascists at the margins but that was not its core. If you listen to Ukrainians they deride Obama and Merkel and the EU for failing to support them, who I don't think have ever been that excited about bringing Ukraine, still very corrupt, into the EU. The Ukrainian people did not want to join the Eurasion Union and did want to joon the EU. Who is the US to override that decision, especially after witnessing the sacrifices Ukraine is willing to undertake to attempt to control its own destiny?

'Euromaidan' should be an example of the possibility of a grass-roots protest movement to incur real change. It is sad that instead it is seen as a puppet of the US and objected to as a front to the hero of the far-left and far-right, the world's greatest fascist today, Vladimir Putin.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:38 PM on July 19 [6 favorites]


If you read the comments of any Ukraine-related article on, say, the Guardian or the Globe & Mail right now you can learn all about how this is all Obama and Merkel's fault.
Putin's sock puppet army is going full Kursk on this one.
posted by Flashman at 3:42 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


(not to lump you in with that gang, KokuRyu!)
posted by Flashman at 3:52 PM on July 19


Vice's Russian Roulette series (which is one some of the better work they've ever done) makes it clear that, justifiably or not, the people of Eastern Ukraine lay blame for the conflict solely on Kiev. Explosions, deaths, and disruptions are perceived as machinations of the Ukrainian government. Meanwhile, Putin, and Russia, and Russia's news agencies are seen as agents of salvation.

Given the above, is there really an outcome wherein the mercs head home and Eastern Ukraine remains part of a united and democratic Ukraine? What are the best and worst possible outcomes of cowing the region into submission? And what are the best and worst possible outcomes of permitting the east to secede?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:01 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


If you listen to Ukrainians
The Ukrainian people

Well, the basic problem here is that the pro-Russian factions in the East are also Ukrainians.

who I don't think have ever been that excited about bringing Ukraine, still very corrupt, into the EU

Replace corrupt with "comparatively impoverished" and you have a more accurate assessment, I would say. The Eurozone actually went through a crisis not that long ago that some worried meant it would dissolve itself. The PIIGS transfer payments problem is well known and Ukraine would initially be on the red side of the ledger, even assuming optimal timelines for integration.

In the end, the US couldn't offer Ukraine an association agreement with the EU; only the membership of the EU could after reaching consensus.

I do generally agree with you that Ukraine is a grown-up (free, sovereign) country able to make its own decisions, and this was an open process; the problem was what used to be called spheres of influence, which aren't generally recognized today de jure but may be implicit in certain relationships. In this conception anything the US/EU do to lure Ukraine over to their side, so to speak, is interference, because the natural sphere into which Ukraine belongs is Russian. There's a lot to discuss in this realm -- War on the Rocks blog has been doing this in depth for months now, and a good sanity-check post is this one, Russian Aggression is a Predictable Rsult of Bad Western Policy, which argues that the West erred in trying to peel Ukraine away from Russia at the cost of our relationship with Russia, which the writer argues is far more important ("there are more interests that align Russia and the West than separate it.") So there is a possibility of looking askance at the actions taken, but I don't think the actions taken were in any way outside the realm of appropriate international behavior (say, Operation Ajax). The fall of the Yanukovich government was largely self-wrought (and he absconded, anyway), so to call this a coup is to use a pretty unusual definition of that term. Regardless, the interim government has been replaced by an elected President, an election some areas of the country boycotted, which doesn't exactly tell me that they were honestly participating in any process. All that said, and leaving aside the Crimean annexation by Russia (far outside any international behavior seen in decades), this represented a serious failure of communication that was exploited by Russia with deliberate intent, and the US has made no end of overt attempts to limit and contain the violence, in particular by making specific requests of Russia which have been ignored or flouted.
posted by dhartung at 4:07 PM on July 19 [5 favorites]


Some sort of political solution leaving Donetsk as a semi-autonomous region within an overall united Ukraine might be believable. I'm looking at the current relationships of Scotland and Wales to the UK as a possible model here.

Any other solution leads to either more fighting, or Russia absorbing Donetsk, I think?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:09 PM on July 19


Given the above, is there really an outcome wherein the mercs head home and Eastern Ukraine remains part of a united and democratic Ukraine?

I would take a close look at what happens in Sloviansk, which was firmly in "separatist" hands until just recently taken back by the Ukranian military. There was just a pro-Ukrainian demonstration there. Sloviansk should now have more open media and we'll see how well Ukraine can help them recover from the destruction of war.

Who is responsible for the MH17 tragedy?
Leonid Ragozin
This war is a massive act of sabotage masquerading as a popular uprising. It is not so much about Ukraine leaning towards the West and Russia trying to pull it in a different direction. It is about the Mafia state - a brutal kleptocracy that replaced the Communist system in the ex-USSR - resisting the transition towards greater transparency and the rule of law.

The aim of this war is to punish Ukrainians for toppling Yanukovich and to prevent Ukraine from becoming a positive alternative to kleptocratic regimes, such as Putin's. The West's support of Ukraine's struggle has so far been largely nominal, if not imitational. But now that missiles fired in Donbass are hitting homes as far as Holland and Canada, Western leaders may choose to think again.
Donetsk separatist leader Borodai who @maxseddon sez blocked access to #MH17 site is (you guessed it) an FSB general pravda.ru/politics/27-07…
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:21 PM on July 19 [6 favorites]


Dan, that argument sounds an awful lot like "OK, You can have Czechoslovakia, no matter what the people there want."

It's arrogant in the extreme for us in the west to decide that the Ukrainians belong to Russia, even if they don't want to. That same argument would have applied to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland, not to mention the Czech Republic and Slovakia, as well as Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro.

I think historic "spheres of influence" are not something we should make any attempt to honor.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:22 PM on July 19 [4 favorites]


Looters Stole Cash, Credit Cards, and Jewelry from Flight MH17 Crash Victims
posted by homunculus at 4:48 PM on July 19


I'm really hoping these weren't all stolen but are mostly being kept in a safe place where the Kremlin is collecting evidence and running their investigation.
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:01 PM on July 19


“What it’s like to be sitting behind a radar screen of an SA-11 Buk SAM system,” David Cenciotti, The Aviationist, 20 July 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 5:05 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Chocolate Pickle, by describing the spheres of influence argument, I did not mean to confer approval, as I hope you understand. My view is of the free, sovereign state end of things. There are, of course, some who think it is arrogant of us to upset apple carts belonging to others. But the thing is, it's never quite that simple. The Iron Curtain was a sort of sphere of influence backed by the omnipresent threat of nuclear war (hence, no intervention in Hungary or Czechoslovakia or Poland). The Suez Crisis was about the US pulling its support for European (Franco-British) spheres of influence and asserting a more international (NATO-centered) Western policy, perhaps just a multiple-drivers version of the same. The Vietnam War was about preventing a supposed sphere of influence from developing, but look how that turned out. Basically, it's one thing to talk about principles, another practice.

I consider myself a Realist (so do a lot of people I don't agree with, though), and that e.g. it's in the US interest (and EU interest) to have a free Ukraine that associates equally with Europe and (as would be inevitable) Russia. The question arises whether the actions taken are worth the consequences.

Given the above, is there really an outcome wherein the mercs head home and Eastern Ukraine remains part of a united and democratic Ukraine?

In someone's dreams. But realistically and probably unhappily, we'll probably see some sort of DevoMax version of autonomy, at the very least allowing exclusive use of the Russian language in the Donbas. Will it become a federation of individual oblasts, or a two-state confederation? The latter is probably more unstable but may be more likely. Hard to say. The key to any level of violence (low-key guerrilla warfare, or terrorism, say) is probably support from Moscow.
posted by dhartung at 5:10 PM on July 19 [4 favorites]


The news anchors on TV are sometimes referring to bringing the perpetrators "to justice". I don't really understand what they mean. The US Captain responsible for shooting down the equivalently sized Iranian jet received the Legion of Merit for "exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements". So I'm not exactly clear how we can claim this is a prosecutable crime rather than a tragic accident.
posted by Justinian at 5:13 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Or more recently I'm not sure how this differs from one of the seemingly dozen times the US has accidentally blown to hell a wedding party in Afghanistan. Just because the scale is larger? I'm willing to listen to arguments these things should be prosecutable but it better start with indicting whoever is responsible for those drone strikes.
posted by Justinian at 5:18 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


I think historic "spheres of influence" are not something we should make any attempt to honor.

Completely ignoring historical spheres of influence isn't always a great idea either. Even though Taiwan is a full capitalistic and democratic government that has a significant percentage of its population that wants to declare full independence, it simply can't because of Mainland China. Mainland China has already baked into it's government and policy that such an action would lead to conflict. And similarly, the US has also baked in to it's own policy that a conflict in that region would lead to US involvement.

It's because of a gradual mutual acknowledgement that both the US and China have some influence in the region that's kept things the way they are.
posted by FJT at 5:28 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


WSJ now reports that AIDS conference organizers say there have been at least 6 deaths on MH17 amongst their participants but not the high numbers reported in some press
posted by Bwithh at 5:54 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


these things should be prosecutable

I think most people in Europe and elsewhere think all the things you mention should be prosecutable, but we also realize that actually prosecuting them would be difficult, for a plethora of practical reasons. In spite of our legal impotence, labelling them as "injustices" doesn't strike me as wrongheaded, though.
posted by Dumsnill at 5:55 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


I don't think we can leave things at "Let whomever is without war crimes cast the first stone."

Yes, whoever bombed and ordered the bombing of that Afghan wedding should be prosecuted. That doesn't preclude us from calling for justice in this case, too.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 6:14 PM on July 19 [4 favorites]


I agree its an injustice but what crime would you charge them with? Assuming they thought they were targeting a military transport, obviously.
posted by Justinian at 6:16 PM on July 19


It's really up to the Ukrainian government to charge them with a crime, and they're already guilty of many.
posted by empath at 6:20 PM on July 19


I think when it comes to mass killings of civilians for no military purpose whatsoever, we do have both national and international laws against that sort of thing, right?
posted by Dumsnill at 6:20 PM on July 19


And now the bastards are looting credit card numbers.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:21 PM on July 19


I think when it comes to mass killings of civilians for no military purpose whatsoever, we do have both national and international laws against that sort of thing, right?

I think that technically shooting a civilian airliner down with no exclusion zone set up, and without clear "command and control" or rules of engagement would seem to be a war crime.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:22 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


That's only true if it was intentional.
posted by Justinian at 6:24 PM on July 19


There is no gross neglect, total lack of caution, any random truck driver would have known better clause in there somewhere?

You might be right, but if so it's even more grotesque,
posted by Dumsnill at 6:27 PM on July 19


I'm no expert, but I've read the Geneva Conventions and I don't know of any provision that would apply here.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:27 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Ukraine: Separatists took Flight 17 bodies as part of coverup
posted by homunculus at 6:39 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


I have been following this conversation, and while I appreciate the back and forth, I think about my family. How would I feel if my family had died in that plane crash? And then some bugger going on about the this and that over the oil and political arena. And how would it feel if my dad or brother or sister had died in that plane crash.

I'm no expert, but I feel like I would feel like shit if people were talking about oil and stuff like that when my family member had just died.

I'm not knocking the rest of you, carry on, and I know you will, regardless of what I say. But won't you please take a moment to consider lives lost before you analyze it all, because that just seems really cold to me. Think about your mother splayed on a field. Your daughter and her Teddy. I may be angling because I just had a loss in my family, but it's hard, it's hard on those people. Think about it. You just lost your mother, or brother or sister or niece, and someone wants to make it part of some political crap. No thank you. That is my relative there, not your geopoliticall discussion.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:45 PM on July 19 [5 favorites]


Julia Ioffe: I Met Igor Bezler, the Russian Rebel Who Said, "We Have Just Shot Down a Plane." His nickname is "Demon." That's all you need to know.
posted by homunculus at 6:47 PM on July 19


You lost no relative, and morally judoing it over the rest of us is horrible.
posted by Dumsnill at 6:48 PM on July 19 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I mean it's fine to feel bad but don't criticize me because I'm discussing the implications of what happened.
posted by Justinian at 6:49 PM on July 19 [14 favorites]


I feel bad for the families of the dead but there isn't anything I can do for them. Wallowing in angst helps no one.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:51 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


There is a rift in the cocoa-gherkin coalition, I'm afraid. There is plenty we can do.
posted by mochapickle at 6:54 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


I lost it looking through the Big Picture images where there were clearly cut out dolls in the wreckage. Exactly the sort of thing my sister would be playing with when we flew places as kids. Couldn't look at more after at that point.
posted by ElliotH at 6:58 PM on July 19


I can honestly say that if I had lost a relative in MH17, I wouldn't be reading MeFi. If I did go back to read this thread later, and I saw people discussing the political implications, I'd assume that those people grieved in relative proportion to the closeness of the victims to them. It's not my place to micromanage how long someone else mourns for people who they didn't know personally, and it shouldn't be anyone else's, either.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:58 PM on July 19 [17 favorites]


No guys! I am not criticizing you! I am just asking you to think about the families and their loved ones. It just seemed to me that the conversation got really diverted into some arena that does bear discussion but it left out the victims of this tragedy.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:13 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


There are provisions of the ICC Treaty which would apply, but the US is not a signatory and doesn't recognize the ICC. (In fact, Congress passed a law about that.)

(Actually, Clinton signed it, but never sent it to the Senate.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:20 PM on July 19


No guys! I am not criticizing you! I am just asking you to think about the families and their loved ones.

What makes you think they didn't?
posted by Kevin Street at 7:43 PM on July 19 [8 favorites]


> You lost no relative, and morally judoing it over the rest of us is horrible.

You've got a really weird standard for what constitutes 'horrible'.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:55 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


Writing the truth in the People’s Republic of Donetsk
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:57 PM on July 19


I think Marie Mon Due is touching a similar sentiment to what I'm getting at with "why is nobody talking about the Malaysians". There is a huge human element here, at least 2 countries (Malaysia and the Netherlands) have been impacted in ways similar to 9/11 or other major terrorist attacks - and yet they're being treated as intellectual collateral damage, pawns to some larger geopolitical problem.

And even if you do want to go down the geopolitical route: how will this affect Malaysia, a country already suffering from some sort of inferiority complex, wanting so much to get international recognition and having it solely come by plane crashes? After MH370 SO MANY PEOPLE were making stupid claims about Asian planes being shoddy, when MAS and many others had better track records than some US-based airlines. What will happen to Malaysia's relationship to Russia or Ukraine, and will Europe even give a damn? Prince William at least acknowledged the pain of the Malaysians (in a speech at Australia House) - that's more than most places.

This is not a game of Diplomacy, people - it's not just fallen sharks and dinosaurs on a game board.
posted by divabat at 8:05 PM on July 19 [6 favorites]


You've got a really weird standard for what constitutes 'horrible'

This is a lose-lose situation. I think essentially accusing others of not caring about dead families is pretty bad, but no, it's not anywhere near as bad as being among those who lost their family. I used the word horrible wrongly here, and I apologize.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:10 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


What do you want from us? Wailing and rending of clothing?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:11 PM on July 19


I think Marie Mon Due is touching a similar sentiment to what I'm getting at with "why is nobody talking about the Malaysians"

I was just in Penang last week. Not knowing much about the country it was really neat how diverse it is and how accepting of different religions and cultures, of which there are many, and how people were proud of the diversity. I'm hurting fot Malaysia right now. (I came across a little racism as well - mainly on the part of ethnic Chinese towards ethnic Malay.)
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:13 PM on July 19


Respect, Dumsnill. And sorry for the snarky tone of my comment.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:19 PM on July 19


There is a huge human element here, at least 2 countries (Malaysia and the Netherlands) have been impacted in ways similar to 9/11 or other major terrorist attacks - and yet they're being treated as intellectual collateral damage, pawns to some larger geopolitical problem.

Arguably, 9/11 would have better handled by such an approach.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:20 PM on July 19 [6 favorites]


That's only true if it was intentional.

Hmmm, I would still say this is prosecutable as a war crime. There really was no rationale for shooting down a civilian airliner. Since there was no exclusion zone established, whoever pushed the button was grossly negligent. I guess I will have to read up on international and military law in conflict zones!
posted by KokuRyu at 8:22 PM on July 19


It would be interesting if the Netherlands and Malaysia declared war on Nuevo Russia or whatever these unshaven mafiosi are calling this region of eastern Ukraine.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:23 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


What do you want from us? Wailing and rending of clothing?

Seriously, dude, wtf? Yes. I do want that. People died. I do want you to be upset over that. I don't know what it takes for you to feel something for others, but they were someone's family. Can you imagine that?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:27 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


That is not for you to demand, either that other people feel a particular way or display it for you to witness. Please stop and go mourn the way that works best for you.
posted by rtha at 8:32 PM on July 19 [14 favorites]


Yes. I do want that. People died. I do want you to be upset over that. I don't know what it takes for you to feel something for others, but they were someone's family. Can you imagine that?

I can imagine that. I live in Norway. Remember that thing? That happened in Norway? But you seem to think that the best response to a nightmare like that is to throw all reason overboard and start crying very loudly. I don't agree.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:35 PM on July 19 [12 favorites]


The reason I follow threads like this is that, I guess, it's my way of trying to process disaster. Because I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of events like Thursday's crash, and feel the need to try, in some way, to make rational sense of them.

And so I read passenger manifests, and obituaries, and political analyses, and wonder about what's to come. I can see how the passengers may seem lost in broader discussions about what this all means, but I assure you, I have not stopped thinking about them, and I doubt anyone else has, either.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 8:39 PM on July 19 [7 favorites]


Of Planes and Proxies.

One of the games being played in the region is an old and dangerous one: the proxy war. For a power that wants to meddle in another country, the great thing about fielding surrogates is that they give you deniability. The bad thing is that you can’t ever fully control them. Things were problematic enough in the nineteen-sixties, when the C.I.A. hired mercenaries to fight Soviet proxies in Africa and Latin America. The formula was simple: here’s a down payment, in money or arms. Go in and do your worst, and you’ll get more if you get something done. If you screw up, get caught, or get killed, we’re not involved. But, even with that protective distance, these kinds of agents could create terrible mischief, which often found its way home. When I was in Bolivia in the mid-eighties, Argentine pilots told me that the C.I.A. was hiring fliers to drop arms to the Nicaraguan contras. The pilots had a friend, recently employed by an infamous drug lord, who had just signed on. Later, it emerged that some of the contras had made a side deal with Pablo Escobar, the drug trafficker, allowing him to ship cocaine through their network of clandestine airstrips. [.....]
posted by Rumple at 8:47 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


I'm from a Catholic Dutch family, which means I have a vast extended family in the Netherlands. While, thank goodness, there were no names I recognize on the passenger list, it took a good bit of time before it was released and it wasn't extremely unlikely that somebody I knew could have been on it. I've also ridden a small 70cc motorcycle all over peninsular Malaysia and I have a tremendous fondness for the country and its people. And I've flown Malaysia Airlines several times and found those to be my best flying experiences ever.

For me, a thread like this which somewhat rationally analyses the geopolitical ramifications of this kind of event is actually quite calming.
posted by Emanuel at 9:01 PM on July 19 [9 favorites]


Hmmm, I would still say this is prosecutable as a war crime. There really was no rationale for shooting down a civilian airliner. Since there was no exclusion zone established, whoever pushed the button was grossly negligent.

I think everybody in the world probably agrees that there is no rationale for deliberately shooting down a civilian airliner but I also don't think for a second that the rebels intended to shoot down a civilian airliner. You're right that one could argue about gross negligence but that's a tough thing to do given that as far as I am aware nobody has ever been prosecuted for shooting down a civilian airliner by accident despite it having happened a whole bunch of times. Including once by the US Navy... which refused even to apologize.

Hell, in 2001 Ukraine shot down a Russian civilian airliner pretty damn close to where MH17 went down. 76 people died. But at least they took more responsibility than the US Navy since the Minister of Defense resigned over it. Nobody was prosecuted though.
posted by Justinian at 9:08 PM on July 19


It's a prosecutable war crime even if the loss of life isn't intentional, the point being that you're responsible for the unintended consequences of your choice to resort to force -- this came up at the Guardian recently.
posted by philip-random at 9:26 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


So we're just saying "might makes right" then? When Russia, Ukraine, US, China, or Israel do it nobody even apologizes but if you're a weaker entity we string you up?
posted by Justinian at 9:31 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


PR, that's true under the ICC treaty which has some appallingly broad provisions which make it so that they can prosecute virtually anyone they want who engages in combat. (Which is part of why the US never ratified the treaty.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:32 PM on July 19


Justinian: "as far as I am aware nobody has ever been prosecuted for shooting down a civilian airliner by accident despite it having happened a whole bunch of times. Including once by the US Navy... which refused even to apologize."

God damn, give it a rest, OK? Some pro-Russia Ukrainian people kill close to 300 people and you wanna let them off because the USA is an evil warmonger who's done worse things?

I read that a guy who clearly murdered someone back in the 1500s was never prosecuted, so murder for everyone!
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:33 PM on July 19 [4 favorites]


You don't wanna talk about it, feel free not to talk about it. The question isn't whether I want someone to be prosecuted, the question is whether it would be legally justifiable. Surely you can tell the difference between "I think this is the way things should be" and "I think this is the way things are".
posted by Justinian at 9:36 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


So we're just saying "might makes right" then?
More like "two wrongs don't make a right." The US and Russia should have been held accountable, and so should the asshole who shot down this plane full of civilians and children, even if they were merely grossly negligent.

so that they can prosecute virtually anyone they want who engages in combat
That's probably so that it can take into account situations like this one, where the militant isn't affiliated with a state.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:38 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


CP: you're right, plus the ICC doesn't have jurisdiction in Ukraine.
posted by Justinian at 9:40 PM on July 19


We talk about "victor's justice". The ICC treaty turns that on its head and pretty much is "vanquished's justice". The treaty is written to permit prosecution of anyone who wins. (And, for that matter, nearly everyone who loses.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:41 PM on July 19


Justinian, the ICC treaty claims jurisdiction everywhere, even in nations which are not signatories.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:44 PM on July 19


I'm not sure I'd go that far but like I said it's a moot point since Ukraine isn't a signatory.
posted by Justinian at 9:44 PM on July 19


Hah. Good luck to them.
posted by Justinian at 9:44 PM on July 19


I think you are wrong, though, CP.
The Court does not have universal jurisdiction. The Court may only exercise jurisdiction if:

The accused is a national of a State Party or a State otherwise accepting the jurisdiction of the Court;
The crime took place on the territory of a State Party or a State otherwise accepting the jurisdiction of the Court; or
The United Nations Security Council has referred the situation to the Prosecutor, irrespective of the nationality of the accused or the location of the crime.
This is from the ICC's website.
posted by Justinian at 9:45 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Justinian: "The question isn't whether I want someone to be prosecuted, the question is whether it would be legally justifiable."

But you answered that already when you asked the question. Obviously. the answer is that it depends on what the international consensus arrives at. So far, no one has been found guilty of that crime. After this incident? Only time will tell.

You seem to think that a good vs. bad binary morality choice is the only option. I would suggest that that opinion is naive and unrealistic.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:51 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Marie Mon Dieu, say all what you want about how you're not really criticizing anyone, but there is no way to read "some bugger going on about the this and that over the oil and political arena" and "won't you please take a moment to consider lives lost before you analyze it all" as anything other than criticism of how others are talking about the tragedy, paired with a completely unfounded assumption about how much the other person cares about the victims. You may not want to start a fight, but you're certainly casting aspersions on anyone who you feel isn't showing the correct amount of concern. If you're going to make a comment like that about how others aren't grieving right, then have the decency to own it.

9/11 was mentioned, and I can say without any shame whatsoever that within minutes of the second plane hitting the towers, I was starting to think about who could do such a thing, and how my country would respond. Does that mean I didn't care about the victims, or just that I can hold multiple thoughts in my head simultaneously?

In the following days, I would go on to ball my fucking eyes out nearly every day for what seemed like months, glued to my television and the Internet. I was basically a full-on 9/11 grief porn addict, but while my thoughts were about the victims and their families and the senselessness of the tragedy, I still wanted to know why the attack occurred, and how we can stop future attacks.

I'm sure other Americans did it differently. And that's okay! Who the hell am I to tell them how to grieve? And who the hell are they to tell me how?

My first comment in this thread was the traditional "." that we reserve for obit/tragic event threads. I don't know the history behind how that became a convention, but my guess is that it's because grief is hard for people to put into words, so we use the "." to acknowledge the loss, and then go grieve in our own private way. That's what I did here. Eventually, I returned to the thread to discuss other things, but that doesn't mean the victims and their families aren't prominent in my thoughts -- it just means I'm at the point in the process where I can start thinking about the larger context of how this tragedy happened and how we might be able to stop something like it from happening again.

Maybe you're not at that point. And that's okay! Who the hell am I to tell you when it's okay to talk about other things? And who the hell are you to tell me when it's not?

The insinuations that anyone who isn't publicly showing the right amount of grief here doesn't care about the victims is offensive. You don't get to tell me what I feel, 99.9% of which you could not possibly see through this medium. There's a whole lot more to each of the people behind the screen names than you're seeing in the comments here.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:52 PM on July 19 [14 favorites]


They must have changed it since I last read the treaty (about 2002). The entire point of the American Service-Members' Protection Act was that the ICC treaty as originally proposed would have permitted prosecution of American servicemen even if the US didn't ratify.

Perhaps they changed the treaty in response to the ASMPA. It would have been embarrassing to have the US Marines invading the Hague, after all, which the ASMPA authorizes.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:53 PM on July 19


I don't think that is necessarily an asshole response. Yes, a lot of people died, and the tragedy of that, is beyond imagining. But the majority of people on this thread can't feel what those families are feeling. It's just not possible. And the tragedy, which most of us can't appreciate, the way those who have lost love ones can, is subsumed in something larger. I don't think it is unconciencable for us to be talking about the larger issue that this tragedy encompasses.
posted by Windopaene at 9:57 PM on July 19


[A few comments deleted. Folks, cool it down in here. Tough topic, people have different responses, but if you can't be in here without namecalling or taunting, maybe take a break and come back later. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:06 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


I think the gist of Marie Mon Dieu's remark was to take a minute to imagine what you would be going through if your family members were on the plane if you haven't, which is appropriate for any situation involving violence or loss of life. There may have been other words in there I didn't appreciate as much, but whatever - move on.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:49 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


Just some data points that this isn't a derail and may be taken seriously by one or more parties:

* "The shooting down of the Malaysian airliner may be a war crime under the Geneva Convention," Dr James Summers, Director of the Centre for International Law and Human Rights at Lancaster University, tells the BBC. "Malaysia could be entitled to bring the state responsible for the shooting down of the airliner, or providing the missiles to do so, before the International Court of Justice," he said. -- from a BBC live update timeline

* In a televised address, Mr Yudhoyono [President of Indonesia] said if it is confirmed that the plane was shot down by a military missile, it would be an infringement of international law and a war crime, and the perpetrators must be severely punished.

* Ukrainian prime minister Arsney Yatsenyuk has called on the international community to support moves to catch who he called "those bastards" responsible for the attack. He wants the tragedy treated as a war crime in The Hague.

As to the universal jurisdiction of the ICC, there are four separate routes to jurisdiction and only one of them entails the accused being a national of a state party to the statute. For example, a motion could be brought before the Security Council to confer specific jurisdiction; here, of course, the US would have a veto, barring unusual circumstances. But the point isn't that they have sweeping 24/7 worldwide jurisdiction, it's that there are circumstances where a US national servicemember could fall under that jurisdiction. I don't particularly agree with the Act but the fact is that states party to international treaties generally get to opt out of many provisions anyway through a codicil or protocol or annex.

My own grab-from-thin-air here is that the 1977 Protocols contain provisions barring "indiscriminate" attacks against civilian targets or military targets where civilians could be injured or killed. One of the key aspects of the Geneva Conventions, in any case, is that it tries to distinguish between uniformed and un-uniformed personnel, as a military person who takes off their uniform in a combat zone is generally, under military law, subject to treatment as a spy (including application of the death penalty). Irregulars such as the pro-Russian separatists are in a dicey legal limbo, and Russians working in Ukrainian territory with their Russian identity and affiliation concealed (there are actual rules for determining this) may also be subject to loss of protections. All that said, it's probable that Kiev would prefer to put these guys on trial on their own territory and that may satisfy the governments of the other countries. Bottom line: there are key legal differences between this case and other shootdowns. As a practical matter, if the perpetrators were to disappear to Russia, it would be effectively as difficult to prosecute them as any other perpetrator protected by their own country. But before grandstanding, also recall that the US was taken to the ICJ by Iran and eventually settled the case.
posted by dhartung at 11:52 PM on July 19 [8 favorites]


Russia may be hiding AA systems but it's moving SU-34 bombers towards #Ukraine possibly to slow down any UA mil gains vesti.ru/doc.html?id=18…

Both Ukrainian & Russian sources confirm that large Ukrainian armored forces are moving towards #Luhansk & #Donetsk #Ukraine

(This is the only source I've seen for both of the above reports)

#Russia has a new plan: its #Donetsk proxies will only allow an #MH17 investigation if #Ukraine agrees to a truce 1tv.ru/news/world/263…

While the world has been focused on MH17, the Ukrainian army launched shells into Lugansk (a city near the Russian border) killing 20 civilians, and all water, electricity, and phone sevice is out. There are reports that 250 civilians have been killed in the Lugansk region in the last few months (this is from Russian sources). The fighting started with a brutal attack on the Ukrainian border guard station by "separatists" opening the border to allow Russian heavy armament such as BUKs to cross the border from Russia. During the attack a Ukranian SU-25 fired a rocked pod at a city administration building and park across the street from it killing a bureaucrat and other bystanders. The Ukranian government did everything to cover this up, first indicating it was a Russian manpad that went off course, which is one reason I wouldn't completely rule out the possibility that Ukraine shot down MH17 and is lying about it, if there were evidence to support it.
All of the evidence seems to point to Russia though.

I hope Putin's truce for MH17 access proposal might open an opportunity to negotiate an end to the war entirely, perhaps in exchange for letting Russia off the hook.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:07 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


The Guardian reports that there were less/no obstructions for the OSCE people.
WSJ's Paul Sonne: Bodies being loaded into these refrigerated rail cars in city of Torez. #MH17vpic.twitter.com/nr97W4AfOo
But OSCE were not able to count the bodies. Guardian tweeted that bodies of 196 passengers were recovered.
posted by travelwithcats at 4:39 AM on July 20


Guardian: "France, Germany and Britain will press Russia's president Putin on Sunday to ensure that separatists in Ukraine allow investigators free access to the site of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash, the French president's office said."
"If Russia does not immediately take the necessary measures, the European Union will act in consequence at the Council of Foreign Affairs taking place on Tuesday."
posted by travelwithcats at 4:42 AM on July 20


There have been moments when this thread has drifted into callousness but I don't think the oil pricing discussion was one of them.
posted by gingerest at 4:46 AM on July 20


Full passenger and crew manifest of MH17
posted by jeffburdges at 4:55 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


There have been moments when this thread has drifted into callousness

Heightened feelings. My excuse is I got off an international flight on Thursday morning. When I woke on Friday I copped this. It's a big swallow of suck and uselessness.
posted by Wolof at 4:59 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


which is one reason I wouldn't completely rule out the possibility that Ukraine shot down MH17 and is lying about it

That is a really large and disgusting possibility that you shouldn't even be mentioning without solid evidence to back it up.

Plus there's surveillance footage (linked way upthread somewhere) showing a BUK driving away from the probable launch point, well within rebel-held territory, right afterwards with one missile missing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:17 AM on July 20


Multiple news outlets saying black boxes have been found and taken to Donetsk, with rebel forces saying they will be turned over to int'l investigators. Telegraph's video still frame of the (red) black box being recovered.
posted by shortfuse at 6:10 AM on July 20


Russia supplied missile launchers to separatists, U.S. official says. "Two of the antiaircraft systems were spotted entering Russia from Ukraine at 2 a.m. Friday ... One had its full complement of four missiles, but the other was missing a missile"
posted by Nelson at 6:35 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


Oh that's not good
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:40 AM on July 20


None of it is good.
posted by Wolof at 6:42 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


Well, yes, but I mean that is extra levels of no-plausible-deniability bad.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:44 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


Oh, please don't ask me how it smells.
posted by Wolof at 7:02 AM on July 20


Guardian: "Twenty-seven more bodies have been found along with 20 fragments of bodies at the site where the Malaysia Airlines plane crashed, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said.
He told a news conference that the bodies of 192 of the 298 people killed when the plane was shot down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday had been placed in refrigerated train wagons before being sent home for burial."

WSJ's Paul Sonne tweets: "Crash site is massive, covering miles of fields, three or four different villages. 35 sq km. Difficult task in best of circumstances."
posted by travelwithcats at 7:14 AM on July 20


Oh that's not good

I don't know. Presuming the story is true, getting the launchers out of rebel hands and out of Ukraine seems like a crucial deescalation and represents both an active reduction in the threat from the rebels and an implicit reduction in Russian support for their activities. Obviously, the launchers shouldn't have been there in the first place, but it's way too late to be having that argument. At this point, getting the things out of the hands of people who've demonstrated they cannot be trusted to handle them is vital.
posted by multics at 7:56 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


I'm not disagreeing that it's vital, I'm saying that Russia doesn't even have the thinnest veneer of plausible deniability left. That backs Putin into a corner, no? (Unless this is part of some face-saving backchannel negotiations between Kerry's aide and his/her opposite number in Russia, locked in a hotel room in Switzerland somewhere or whatever it is they do for backchannel talks these days.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:05 AM on July 20


I'm not disagreeing that it's vital, I'm saying that Russia doesn't even have the thinnest veneer of plausible deniability left. That backs Putin into a corner, no?

I'm certainly nobody's expert on the politics of the situation, but it seems to me that the best outcome Putin could hope for at this point is to be perceived as playing an active role in stabilizing the situation, even if doing so means implicitly acknowledging Russia's role in creating the crisis in the first place. I think this provides Putin with as graceful an exit as could be hoped under the circumstances.
posted by multics at 8:14 AM on July 20 [4 favorites]


The situation I think is kinda like if they gave the wackos at Ted Bundies ranch RPGs and Javelins..
posted by empath at 9:14 AM on July 20


I don't know. Presuming the story is true, getting the launchers out of rebel hands and out of Ukraine seems like a crucial deescalation and represents both an active reduction in the threat from the rebels and an implicit reduction in Russian support for their activities.

They shot down a Ukrainian Air Force AN-26 this morning.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:42 AM on July 20


This very encouraging. It doesn't seem that people in Russia are too enthusiastic about the "separatists."

MH17 and its aftermath: 'ordinary Russians are horrified and frightened'
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:45 AM on July 20


That backs Putin into a corner, no?

I imagine that people in Russia and Eastern Ukraine are just as skeptical of the things being said by Kiev and Washington as we are of the news releases coming out of Moscow and from the separatists. So maybe not?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:55 AM on July 20


Today the Netherlands largest newspaper called for NATO troops to secure the crash site. Jesus.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:10 AM on July 20 [3 favorites]


Context tho - I think its a populist tabloid so - maybe not so surprising a reaction?
posted by JPD at 10:21 AM on July 20 [2 favorites]


.

This incident is challenging my usual "stay the hell out of it, America," foriegn policy opinions. I can't get the image of dead children raining down from the sky out of my head. I can't get the image of bodies being looted and left to rot out of my head. I'm having difficulty containing my rage at Putin's irresponsibility and general evil. Knowledge of what results from actual conflict with Russia is pretty much the only thing holding me back. I wish the Europeans would be willing to take a stronger stance on economic sanctions and things like granting Russia the World Cup would be withdrawn.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:03 AM on July 20 [9 favorites]


More on the cover-up.
posted by ob at 11:08 AM on July 20


Pro-Russia Rebels in Ukraine Are Using Malaysia Airlines Victims’ Bodies as a Bargaining Chip
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:14 AM on July 20


This very encouraging. It doesn't seem that people in Russia are too enthusiastic about the "separatists."

A good friend of mine on Facebook has close connections to Russians, both in the States and in Russia itself, and there is now a very long-running and informative thread on his Wall about this whole thing. I don't think you can assume that Russians are not enthusiastic about separatists.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:18 AM on July 20 [3 favorites]


Today the Netherlands largest newspaper called for NATO troops to secure the crash site. Jesus.

It was striking to read about the Dutch PM saying he is "beside himself with rage."

The thing is, the indignities being suffered by the families of the victims (bodies left to rot in the sunshine while thugs loot their possessions, without any basic respect for individual rights) are the indignities suffered by every person living under a repressive regime, where individual life counts for absolutely nothing. We are all Russians now.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:20 AM on July 20 [4 favorites]


Lindsey "Huckleberry" Graham was just on Meet The Press talking about how this is all Obama's fault and we need to be arming Ukraine with all kinds of weapons systems. Because if there's one thing that always helps situations it is even more guns, tanks, artillery, and anti-aircraft missiles.
posted by Justinian at 11:28 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


Lindsey "Huckleberry" Graham was just on Meet The Press talking about how this is all Obama's fault and we need to be arming Ukraine with all kinds of weapons systems.

He is nothing if not predictable. I assume John McCain is also trying to drag the U.S. into the war.
posted by Area Man at 11:31 AM on July 20


At this point, I'm wondering if NBC even bothers to wake McCain and Graham up from their cots in the green room, or if they just re-run old clips with the audio changed for whatever the latest foreign policy problem is.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:36 AM on July 20 [11 favorites]


A young Ukrainian guy from the rebel-held area was just doing an AMA on Reddit.

"
so what do you think the ongoing conflict is all about?

Putin wants a sort of, shall I say, maxi pad between his Russia and the West by creating an unstable buffer and making sure that Ukraine won't join anything as long as this conflict goes on.

also what's the people on the area think about it?

A lot of them support Russia. Some - because they still think that they can back to the USSR. Some - because of the extreme amount of bullshit that is being fed by the Russian propaganda machine. Believe me, it's that potent. It bends and twists people's mind to their whim very easy.

Some begin to wise up, but sadly, there aren't enough of them. You know, what could be easier: if you want to be in Russia - move to Russia. But noooo, you have to call Ukrainians offensive names, you have to show that you hate Ukrainian language (although nobody forces you to use it).
"
posted by Rumple at 11:41 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


WSJ's Paul Sonne tweets: "Crash site is massive, covering miles of fields, three or four different villages. 35 sq km. Difficult task in best of circumstances."

I gotta say, this is the single most surreal context in which to re-encounter the kid next door from your childhood, some 20 years later. But a brief trip through Google confirms it.
posted by Ryvar at 12:34 PM on July 20 [4 favorites]


United States Assessment of the Downing of Flight MH17 and its Aftermath
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:44 PM on July 20


Golden Eternity: "Pro-Russia Rebels in Ukraine Are Using Malaysia Airlines Victims’ Bodies as a Bargaining Chip"

"“We declare that we will guarantee the safety of international experts on the scene as soon as Kiev concludes a ceasefire agreement," said Andre Purgin, a senior leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. The declaration amounts to blackmail, as Nina Ivanovna put it. The separatists are holding the bodies of MH17 passengers hostage in exchange for territory."

This is moving towards the territory of Greek tragedy. It sounds like an incident from the Illiad. Or echoes of Antigone, breaking the law of Thebes to bury her brother's corpse because leaving it to rot outside the city walls was in defiance of the law of the Gods.
posted by jokeefe at 2:12 PM on July 20 [5 favorites]


Is there a final count of the AIDS researchers, activists, etc. killed? 108 was presumably a gross exaggeration?
posted by jeffburdges at 2:50 PM on July 20


jeffburdges: see above
posted by tonycpsu at 2:51 PM on July 20


Yes. Seven, not over a hundred.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:35 PM on July 20


Sorry, six.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/20/malayia-airlines-mh17-aids-tribute-victims-melbourne
posted by gingerbeer at 3:40 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth:
They shot down a Ukrainian Air Force AN-26 this morning.

I can't find any reference to this event. Did it get completely buried in the other news from today? The rebels brought down an AN-26 on July 14, but I can't find any indication they shot one down this morning.
posted by multics at 5:24 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]


tonycpsu: "At this point, I'm wondering if NBC even bothers to wake McCain and Graham up from their cots in the green room, or if they just re-run old clips with the audio changed for whatever the latest foreign policy problem is."

Sometimes they just use some Simpson clips of Grampa yelling at clouds.
posted by gingerest at 5:56 PM on July 20 [12 favorites]


I can't find any reference to this event. Did it get completely buried in the other news from today? The rebels brought down an AN-26 on July 14, but I can't find any indication they shot one down this morning.

About 10 hours ago I saw a couple tweets (from unkown or known to be unreliable skurces) about an an-26 possibly being hit by AA fire but not necessarily downed near Semeykin or Krasnodon that was possibly dropping cargo with parachutes - which were also hit with AA. I'm guessing more could be found if someone is able to do a Russian language search.

There have also been a few reports of Ukrainian troop movements from Sloviansk towards Lugansk.
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:02 PM on July 20


In the absence of proof, I wonder if the AN-26 story is an echo or reverberation of the original story of MH17, where the "rebels" had claimed to have brought down a Ukrainian cargo plane.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:59 PM on July 20


r/UkrainianConflict and the Interpreter's Blog [note, slow-loading with embedded maps, etc.] are generally pretty up-to-date with major events and what is happening in the Ukr/Rus media world. There is a video of some kind of aerial event but it's possibly just flares, flak or dropped cargo; nothing about any wreckage on the ground.

In court of public opinion, Putin goes on trial [WaPo]
Investigators are still far from an official judgment of what brought down a Malaysia Airlines flight in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew onboard. But the global court of public opinion, the verdict appears to be rendered.

Vladimir Putin is guilty.

The Russian President could once claim a semblance of a role as a global statesmen. But with the downing of a commercial airliner by what U.S. and Ukrainian officials suggest were pro-Moscow rebels using a missile supplied by Russia, Putin was facing a very personal barrage of worldwide condemnation that threatened to result in further sanctions on Russia if it did not rapidly change course in Ukraine.


"Mr. Putin, send my children home." The uncertain fate of victims' remains [WSJ video] Dutch government representatives began visiting relatives to collect DNA samples, photos, and other identifying information, but admit they have no idea when they will be able to use it.
posted by dhartung at 8:59 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]


Is there any kind of international law governing how the bodies and the victims' personal effects should be treated? I can't imagine the pain of having a loved one shot out of the sky and then left to bloat and decompose in a field by drunken soldiers. Even if there's still some dispute over who shot the missile and why, there's no dispute over what's happened with the remains, since there have been international journalists and other observers on the ground. I hope that the soldiers - and anyone else who desecrated or failed to protect the remains - will be be punished.
posted by desjardins at 9:33 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


A young girl paying her respects by the huge piece oh MH17 that landed in her village
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:57 PM on July 20


Desjardins: Protocol 1 Article 34 of the Geneva Conventions "Remains of Deceased"
The remains of persons who have died for reasons related to occupation or in detention resulting from occupation or hostilities and those or persons not nationals of the country in which they have died as a result of hostilities shall be respected, and the gravesites of all such persons shall be respected, maintained and marked as provided for in Article 130 of the Fourth Convention, where their remains or gravesites would not receive more favourable consideration under the Conventions and this Protocol.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:04 PM on July 20


The ICAO defines standards for accident investigation and related matters. Ukraine is a signatory, but has clearly indicated that it does not have control over the crash site, despite having legal jurisdiction. [request for assistance from Ukraine] Note, the ICAO had already begun a round of discussions about improving cooperation &c. relating to the MH370 disappearance.

International law doesn't work like "regular" law where you're within a lawmaking body's jurisdiction by default. It's an agreement between parties, which are generally states or state-like entities (e.g. the EU). As a practical matter if you are the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) you can do whatever the hell you feel like doing. There are laws of war which can be applied, as I've discussed above, but that would entail a many-years process of fact-finding and a trial (some have lasted more than a year) before the International Criminal Court (War Crimes Tribunal). The World Court (International Court of Justice at the Hague, not the same thing) is a body for states to bring lawsuits against other states and obtain compensation or injunctions against behavior, but again, states not party to the treaty, or non-state actors like the DNR have few reasons to consider themselves voluntarily subject to such actions.

By way of example, the ICJ ordered Iran in May 1980 to release US diplomatic staff held hostage in Tehran, but they remained in custody until January 1981. Though Iran or its "student" proxies violated many international norms, including the Vienna Conventions on Consular Protection and likely certain laws of war on top of that, not one person has been held personally accountable to this day.

CP: That is quite specifically about gravesites and really only tangentially applies here. It's a rule about grave desecration, not negligent accident handling.
posted by dhartung at 10:07 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]


It's both. It says "...the remains... shall be respected and the gravesites... shall be respected."
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:29 PM on July 20


I'm not sure what you want. Do you want them to leave the bodies to rot in fields? Clearly, while the current situation is not optimal, at least this is a first step toward returning remains to the families, which would be the objective of any rational enforcement action. It's appallingly inept, but I don't see how it rises to the level of a crime (i.e. something you don't want done). As far as what is criminal, I'm more concerned about evidence tampering -- the loss of chain of control of the black boxes, for instance, and the likelihood that there is intentional removal of anything that could point to the use of SAMs by the separatists (or contrariwise, insertion of false evidence -- but I don't believe these guys are smarter than the international air crash investigation community).

UN meets as world leaders call for global inquiry into MH17 crash
UN Security Council meets amid demands for a independent investigation for fear aircraft debris may be tampered with

Russia will support Australia's UN resolution on MH17, if Russia is not blamed: report

Snatched Outside the MH17 Morgue
Reporters who stopped at the Donetsk morgue looking for clues in the downing of the Boeing 777 were arrested by rebels anxious to impress them with their anger—and their blades.
(In this there is talk of rebels being targeted by "American bombs" -- pretty clearly nonsense as the Ukrainian equipment is essentially all Warsaw Pact) -- leading into

The Russian Public Has a Totally Different Understanding of What Happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 And it's more of a problem than you think. -- Julia Ioffe here, who has been a bit too polemical in previous MH17 pieces, but on the nose about this problem. Basically, Russians believe the Americans did it or it's a frame-up.

There's also this: Russian Billionaires ‘in Horror’ as Putin Risks Isolation -- and unlike the oligarchs who ran circles around Yeltsin, these have been brought to heel and fear speaking out as much as they fear financial disaster from sanctions. The sort of thing you wonder how much is true and how much may be trial balloon or stalking horse, alas.
posted by dhartung at 11:10 PM on July 20 [10 favorites]


Ukraine villager ponders identity of MH17 victim who fell through roof | The Australian
Tatiana said it was “raining humans” as she tended the fields and now can’t erase the scene from her mind. Nor can Liliya Alexandrovnr Kuhta, 43, who, along with her daughter, saw bodies and debris fall across the village. In all, 39 victims of the Boeing 777 flight landed in the village.

“Everyone here cried for two days,’’ Tatiana said. “Cried and cried and cried, the crying was non-stop, how could you not? But then we knew what we had to do.

“We lined up shoulder-to shoulder with the local coal pit workers and walked through into the fields of sun flowers to find these people. They deserved respect and we went to get them.”

The coal pit workers also yesterday walked through large wheat belts looking for bodies.

Liliya pointed out where two bodies were immediately found in her village yesterday, then walked through the village’s three roads, then continues pointing out to the left and then the right and then the roof of a home, then a barn, then a field.

“Over there was a nine-month old baby, just nine months,” she said. “When the sun flowers fall, we will find more I know this. It’s terrible, sad. Everyone here believed it was a Ukraine fighter jet that shot the airline down. Who knows. But Australia and these countries should come here, these people need a memorial. Tell them to build a memorial here.”
I really want that memorial to happen.
posted by divabat at 11:37 PM on July 20 [22 favorites]


It's amazing how similar putins reaction to this is to bush/Cheney/rumsfelds reaction to the unfolding catastrophe in Iraq.

Not to downplay the tragedy here, but America is responsible for the deaths of more civilians over the past decade than Russia by an order of magnitude at least.

Putin isn't going to accept blame for this, and his government is not going to fall, and the toothless sanctions being put in place will only make Putin stronger.
posted by empath at 4:34 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Basically, Russians believe the Americans did it or it's a frame-up.

One interesting point that Julia Ioffe implies is this: if you happen to have control of your country's media - and you ask them to concoct a story that exonerates you - you should be aware that you will have to publicly stand beside whatever they come up with. Even if the person the media ask to write the story cribs it from the plot of Sherlock.
posted by rongorongo at 5:35 AM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Interesting article from the New Yorker based on conversations with Gleb Pavlovsky, a former advisor to Putin.

If it turns out that men like Strelkov and his fellow soldier-fantasists were responsible for the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and all the people on board, the fever in Russia and Ukraine may intensify beyond anything that Vladimir Putin could have predicted or desired. It is long past time that Putin ended both the inflammatory information war in Russia and the military proxy war in eastern Ukraine that he has done so much to conceive, fund, organize, and fuel.
posted by ellieBOA at 5:57 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Guardian: "As Dutch forensic experts arrived at the scene of the Malaysia Airlines crash on Monday and promised that the train being loaded with the victims' bodies would be moved before the end of the day, heavy fighting broke out between the Ukrainian army and rebels on the outskirts of Donetsk, the main regional city and the hub of the insurgency."

The crash site is in Torez, about 70km/43mi away from Donetsk - but the train with the bodies is at the train station in Donetsk.
Additionally, there is some confusion about who is fighting.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:56 AM on July 21


In an unusual address on Russian television, Putin said:
"Everything must be done to guarantee the security of international experts at the site of the tragedy. However, nobody should - and no one has the right to - use this tragedy to achieve selfish political ends. Such events should not divide people but unite them. We have more than once called on all sides in the conflict to immediately stop the bloodshed and begin negotiations."

[From the same page:]

The Russian defence ministry says it detected a Ukrainian warplane within 3-5 km of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 before it crashed.
The ministry denies passing any SA-11 BUK missile systems "or any other weapons" to Ukrainian separatists and says it did not detect any missiles launched near MH17. It has asked the US to share satellite images "if they have them".
posted by travelwithcats at 7:04 AM on July 21


Putin isn't going to accept blame for this, and his government is not going to fall, and the toothless sanctions being put in place will only make Putin stronger.

I find it interesting that there is an emerging narrative manufactured in the Western media (like the Remnick piece in the New Yorker linked-to above), that "events have spun out of Putin's control."
posted by KokuRyu at 7:07 AM on July 21


I'm not sure what you want. Do you want them to leave the bodies to rot in fields?

I don't know if this was directed at me or Chocolate Pickle, but there must be procedures/best practices that (for example) the NTSB follows for protecting human remains. If Ukrainian rebels don't have the facilities, equipment and expertise to carry them out (which seems obvious), then they should have let qualified people in there immediately. That they didn't, and that they left bodies to rot in fields, is or should be a criminal act, in my opinion. But I don't have any experience with international law... or dead bodies, for that matter.
posted by desjardins at 7:19 AM on July 21


I find it interesting that there is an emerging narrative manufactured in the Western media (like the Remnick piece in the New Yorker linked-to above), that "events have spun out of Putin's control."

In what sense have they not "spun out of his control"? I don't think anyone with any sense is saying that this is the Downfall of Putin, but it's certainly a PR nightmare for him. Sure, he can control the Russian media spin on the story, but he has good reason to care what the Dutch come to think happened, what the Germans come to think happened, what the French come to think happened etc. etc. etc--all of that is, indeed, "out of his control" and is of serious concern to him.
posted by yoink at 7:28 AM on July 21 [4 favorites]


NYTimes: Pressure Grows on Putin as Forensics Experts Reach Crash Victims in Ukraine.
posted by Nelson at 7:33 AM on July 21


Well, Putin is used to appeasement so this situation is a bit uncomfortable for him. His TV statement came late last night, it was improvised and he was not as polished as he usually appears publicly. It followed four long phone calls with Merkel, Cameron, Rutte, and Hollande. Putin said: "[...] nobody should - and no one has the right to - use this tragedy to achieve selfish political ends." and one could read that as directed at the rebels.
But this is how Putin operates, seemingly making one step forward but actually two steps back. It didn't take long this time either until the Russian defence ministry claimed that a Ukrainian warplane was detected close to MH17. He's pushing the envelope and not expecting consequences.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:48 AM on July 21


Latest: Obama is about to make a statement and the Netherlands opened a war crimes investigation into MH17 crash.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:49 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


The latest spiegel article has some interesting bits:

Neither the American FAA nor Eurocontrol in Europe had issued any warnings, nor had the airline umbrella organization IATA or the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Without such a warning, an air route remains "in use," says a Lufthansa spokeswoman. In addition to the airlines, which save fuel, use of the route benefits Ukraine, which collects overflight fees. No matter how fierce the fighting is below, civil aircraft flying high above a war zone are not at any risk, because they are outside the range of most weapons. That, at least, was the official stance until now.

But for the risk analysts at most airlines, the situation in Ukraine still seemed too precarious. Carriers like Korean Air, Asiana and Qantas decided weeks ago to avoid Ukraine altogether. British Airways consistently flew around the troubled country on its flights between London and Bangkok, as did Air France. Nevertheless, three-quarters of flights, including those operated by Lufthansa, KLM and Malaysia Airlines, continued to fly over Ukrainian territory -- until the crash.

posted by bukvich at 8:05 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


but it's certainly a PR nightmare for him.

I guess my response is, so what? He's essentially a dictator, so why does PR matter to him? I think the way things are playing, the events could actually help him cement his rule (the only thing that matters).
posted by KokuRyu at 8:08 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


dictators still rely on the support of their constituents, so PR does matter.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:09 AM on July 21


The crash site is in Torez, about 70km/43mi away from Donetsk - but the train with the bodies is at the train station in Donetsk.

Not so. The crash site is adjacent to the village of Grabovo. The train is still sitting in the railway station at nearby Torez.
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:29 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


My bad, Mister Bijou. You are right, the train is in Torez. Thank you.
posted by travelwithcats at 8:40 AM on July 21


Putin isn't going to accept blame for this, and his government is not going to fall, and the toothless sanctions being put in place will only make Putin stronger.

I find it interesting that there is an emerging narrative manufactured in the Western media (like the Remnick piece in the New Yorker linked-to above), that "events have spun out of Putin's control."


Well, the airplane going down in the first place is the situation being out of control.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:44 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


It's a good thing because there is intense fighting going on at Donetsk near the train station. If Poroshenko pushes the upper hand and the "separatists" take big losses in the coming days, it may put pressure on Putin to respond militarily.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:47 AM on July 21


I guess my response is, so what? He's essentially a dictator, so why does PR matter to him?

Because Putin has actually been working hard on the diplomatic front on keeping Europe sucking on Russia's energy teat. If the European nations decide that the economic convenience of cheap Russian energy isn't worth the political inconveniences that deals a serious blow--in the long term--to Russia's economy. If the Russian people stop feeling that Putin is the man who brings (relative) economic prosperity along with everything else then his position starts looking shakier.
posted by yoink at 8:49 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


dictators still rely on the support of their constituents, so PR does matter.

His constituency in Russia is just fine– they think the plane was shot down by Kiev, under orders from America, as part of a conspiracy to make Russia look bad. Where he has a PR nightmare is Europe. So far, European sanctions have been toothless, but if the Netherlands– a pretty powerful country, still– can convince the rest of the EU that this shit needs to stop, then the hard currency that props up his kleptocracy could slow to a trickle, making everything else harder to sustain.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:51 AM on July 21 [5 favorites]


I thought the message was that Putin enjoys tremendous domestic support despite the fact that there is widespread economic disparity in Russia. He's not a "job creator" and is not seen as such.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:51 AM on July 21


Or what ThatFuzzyBastard said (better than me).
posted by KokuRyu at 8:52 AM on July 21


Or what ThatFuzzyBastard said (better than me).

Um, KokuRyu, what ThatFuzzyBastard said directly contradicts you and is exactly the point I'm making.
posted by yoink at 8:56 AM on July 21


Putin enjoys tremendous domestic support despite the fact that there is widespread economic disparity in Russia. He's not a "job creator" and is not seen as such.

To expand a little: much of Putin's early popularity was cemented by the fact that Russia's energy boom coincided with the handover from Yeltsin to Putin. Russia went from economic chaos to strikingly rapid economic growth through the first eight years of Putin's reign. So he was seen as bringing both political stability and economic growth to Russia. It's true that since 2008 Russia's economic growth has been much more faltering--and that's part off the reason that Putin has turned to a much more belligerent foreign policy. If he can't put a chicken in every pot he can put a Russian flag to wave in every hand and rally people to his regime that way. But he certainly doesn't want to see Russia's economic situation worsening and a Europe that collectively decided that it could wear increased energy costs as the price of ceasing to have to dance to Putin's tune would be a serious blow to the Russian economy.
posted by yoink at 9:04 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Russians IN AMERICA (like, say, my mother-in-law) are believing what they hear through their own Russian-sourced and Russian-language media, that Russia and the rebels are not responsible. It's very arresting (to me, at least.)
posted by newdaddy at 9:14 AM on July 21


Um, KokuRyu, what ThatFuzzyBastard said directly contradicts you and is exactly the point I'm making.

Then yoink I guess we agree: the downing of the airliner poses no immediate threat to Putin's domestic popularity. As for external threats, well, who knows?

Glad we agree though!
posted by KokuRyu at 9:14 AM on July 21


It's very arresting (to me, at least.)

I don't find it surprising, not after the Iraq War WMD fiasco in America. Even with a free press, you can convince people of whatever you want if you try hard enough, play into established narratives, and have enough rowdy nationalism behind you.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:16 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


As the Julia Ioffe article upthread notes, it seems less that it's Putin controlling the masses via good PR than no longer having control over the monster that PR has created:
This audience is now fired up and brandishing its own swords, and the propaganda apparatus, much like the rebels in eastern Ukraine, has rolled on and on, fed by inertia and paranoia, reproducing and magnifying itself with each newscast. The sensationalized newscasts are now neck-and-neck, ratings-wise, with the sitcoms. “It keeps people in a traumatized state,” Pavlovsky says. “It’s notable in media metrics, and in conversations with people. They lose their sanity, they become paranoid and aggressive.”

This has had a noticeable impact on the ruling class, Pavlovsky says, which has to watch this stuff in order to stay au courant. And they become less sane as a result, too, which limits their ability to adequately assess a situation such as this and devise a good way out of it.

“It’s noticeable that the Kremlin is much more tempered than Russian TV but can’t change it,” Pavlovsky says. “It’s fallen into a trap, so it's now trying to function within the strictures of this picture.” He cites the example of the PR contortions the Kremlin had to use just to announce that it would not send troops into eastern Ukraine. “In this seemingly controlled media, any rational political arguments of the state have to be hidden and packaged in idiotic, jingoistic rhetoric,” Pavlovsky says.

None of this looks very good for the West, which is clearly hoping that MH17 is the thing that will bring Putin to his senses and get him to agree to some kind of off-ramp, or, at least, a deescalation. But that’s hard to do if neither your public nor your political class see it as a game-changer or as anything that should force Russia to end this game.

“Of course it gets in Putin’s way. He has to be the hero of this TV material, he’s not free from it anymore,” says Pavlovsky. “I have a feeling he's not very comfortable right now.”
I think that's where the continuing narrative of things spinning out of control for Putin comes from. He's lost control of the rebels, he's lost control over his relations with the EU, and he's lost control of his people. If it's true that the very popularity and propaganda that gives him power is now making it harder for him to rein in everything around him, then the narrative is true.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:17 AM on July 21 [6 favorites]


yoink: a Europe that collectively decided that it could wear increased energy costs as the price of ceasing to have to dance to Putin's tune would be a serious blow to the Russian economy

It doesn't come up too much in these discussions, and ocean transport of course isn't as cheap as gaslines, but there's a pretty big energy producer the Euopeans may be comfortable doing business with. Putin thinks his hand is stronger than it is.
posted by spaltavian at 9:18 AM on July 21


Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak just announced that the black boxes will the handed over to Malaysian officials tonight, and that the bodies are being handed over to the Dutch. I am cynical enough not to believe it until I see it, but I am so hoping that this is true.
posted by helloknitty at 9:30 AM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Civilians Killed as Fighting Erupts Near Flight 17 Crash Site
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:31 AM on July 21


The U.S. and Canada are, at best, several years away from industrial export of natural gas to the other side of the planet.
posted by truex at 9:31 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


He's lost control of the rebels, he's lost control over his relations with the EU, and he's lost control of his people. If it's true that the very popularity and propaganda that gives him power is now making it harder for him to rein in everything around him, then the narrative is true.

Eh. He brings the aa missiles back, stonewalls the investigation and everyone forgets about it in a year. Maybe five years from now, there's a multimillion dollar settlement to the victims.
posted by empath at 9:35 AM on July 21


There was already a fairly in-depth discussion on LNG up-thread.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:36 AM on July 21


It doesn't come up too much in these discussions, and ocean transport of course isn't as cheap as gaslines, but there's a pretty big energy producer the Europeans

'Twas discussed earlier.

US Gas Will Never Replace Russian Gas For Europe

posted by Mister Bijou at 9:37 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


The U.S. and Canada are, at best, several years away from industrial export of natural gas to the other side of the planet.

We export to Canada and Mexico, who export that gas to Asia and Europe.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:38 AM on July 21


US Gas Will Never Replace Russian Gas For Europe

Zerohedge is some anonymous dude blowing it out his ass. A guy who thinks Fight Club was pro-capitalist. They think Austrian economics are correct. Enough said.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:41 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Eh. He brings the aa missiles back, stonewalls the investigation and everyone forgets about it in a year. Maybe five years from now, there's a multimillion dollar settlement to the victims.

I agree: Putin is in the business now of saying 1) what is the minimum that Germany will accept and 2) lets just keep sowing FUD over what happened and dont admit anything.

To my mind, this shows the long term costs of a solid decade of lies and deception from the US in my opinion. If its inconvenient for this to be, ultimately, a Russia caused problem then you can sort of vaguely wave your hands and say: oh, who knows what happened out there? Sure the US said it was Russia but can you trust them after WMD, Abu Ghraib, NSA...
posted by shothotbot at 9:42 AM on July 21


I know topics sometimes circle back in long threads but the gas thing looks like a total rerun of the previous comments to me. Might be best just to leave it for now if there isn't anything more to add.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:43 AM on July 21 [4 favorites]


US Gas Will Never Replace Russian Gas For Europe

Zerohedge is some anonymous dude blowing it out his ass. A guy who thinks Fight Club was pro-capitalist. They think Austrian economics are correct. Enough said.


I'll take contempt prior to investigation for 100 Alex. Whatever, the basic facts a correct as far as I can tell.

Technology Review:
So far five new liquefaction plants, capable of exporting a total of 240 million cubic meters per day, have been approved by the Department of Energy. But only one of those facilities, on the Gulf of Mexico, is now under construction. The company building it aims to be able to ship 78 million cubic meters per day by 2015. This will still leave U.S. exports far behind those of Russia, which sent 505 million cubic meters of gas to Europe on a single day earlier this month.
posted by shothotbot at 9:45 AM on July 21 [4 favorites]


Interesting (to me, anyhow) example of (what I interepret as) Russian FUD: RussianMissionGeneva tweets (or retweets?) 10 questions to Ukraine
posted by shothotbot at 9:53 AM on July 21


I think Putin is assuming this will cost him and his side not much more than the Iranian one cost the US. The difference is that it looks like it was given to the rebels in an underhanded way, so it's incompetence and embarrassing stupidity piled on top of the AA system operators' incompetence AND a horrible tragedy.

It's almost like, if you do something risky and get away with it, you look like a champ in proportion to how risky it was, but if you fuck up royally, it also looks foolish in the same proportion.

Which may figure into political calculations more than the direct damage in terms of sanctions, etc.
posted by rainy at 9:57 AM on July 21


Yeah - LNG is a viable threat. LNG solely from the US is not. For why see above.
posted by JPD at 10:05 AM on July 21


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib tonight said the 282 bodies recovered from the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site will be sent to the Netherlands for further investigations before the remains of the Malaysians are brought home.

He also announced that the Ukrainians had agreed to hand over the black boxes to Malaysia.

posted by cendawanita at 10:06 AM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Malaysia PM:
Earlier this evening I spoke to Alexander Borodai, who is in command of the region where the tragedy occurred. We have agreed the following:

1: the remains of 282 ppl in Torez will be moved by train to Kharkiv where they will be handed over to representatives from the Netherlands.

2: At approx 9pm tonight Ukraine time, the 2 black boxes will be handed over to a M'sian team in Donetsk who will take custody of them.

3: independent international investigators will be guaranteed safe access to the crash site to begin a full investigation of the incident. 
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:09 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Have the black boxes been under reliable supervision for most of this time? How difficult would it be to tamper with them?
posted by dialetheia at 10:12 AM on July 21


“It Wasn’t Us!” Russian Generals Scour The Internet For MH17 Theories
The generals demonstrated their findings in a war room with a “big board” much like the one in Stanley Kubrick’s satirical masterpiece Dr. Strangelove.

With their voices booming over loudspeakers around an empty roundtable as crude graphics whirred on a massive screen behind them, the generals offered a version of the plane's last few minutes wildly at odds with the evidence provided by the Ukrainian and U.S. governments. Andrei Karatolov, a deputy air force general, laid out several, often conflicting, scenarios that he claimed showed Ukraine could have been responsible for the plane's crash.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:17 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


From the Dutch paper NRC: "It’s time for The Netherlands to man up to Russia"

Not sure what exactly the author means by "manning up." The Netherlands has a long tradition of putting business ahead of principles.

Still, the article is an embarrassing account of Dutch-Russian relations. (I am Dutch.)
posted by monospace at 10:18 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


shothotbot: US Gas Will Never Replace Russian Gas For Europe

Zerohedge is some anonymous dude blowing it out his ass. A guy who thinks Fight Club was pro-capitalist. They think Austrian economics are correct. Enough said.

I'll take contempt prior to investigation for 100 Alex. Whatever, the basic facts a correct as far as I can tell.

Technology Review:
So far five new liquefaction plants, capable of exporting a total of 240 million cubic meters per day, have been approved by the Department of Energy. But only one of those facilities, on the Gulf of Mexico, is now under construction. The company building it aims to be able to ship 78 million cubic meters per day by 2015. This will still leave U.S. exports far behind those of Russia, which sent 505 million cubic meters of gas to Europe on a single day earlier this month.


Notice how you backed up "US Gas Will Never Replace Russian Gas" with an explanation of how America will have half of Russia's export capacity once these approved plants are built? This is ignoring the fact that America can export though Mexico.

Far be from me to question some guy with Tyler Durden as his avatar, but his main argument is premised on the strawman that America can't entirely replace Russian natural gas (of course it can't, and it doesn't have to impact the market), and that Russian gas will always be cheaper because of the price of liquefaction, as if somehow an increasinly belligerent Russia and unstable Eastern Europe isn't going to impact pricing.
posted by spaltavian at 10:18 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Honest question: What information will the black boxes provide, assuming there's no tampering? I'm assuming exact height and location, where the plane was struck, and speed of descent. With damage like that, would the pilots have had any control?
posted by mochapickle at 10:20 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


The last words of the pilots could be of interest.
posted by travelwithcats at 10:22 AM on July 21


I don't think the black boxes matter much at this point. The real evidence (wreckage of the missile, chemical residue) would be in the fields that have now been irreparably compromised.
posted by monospace at 10:24 AM on July 21


There are two black boxes: the cockpit voice recorder, which tapes the pilot chatter, and the flight data recorder, which logs parameters such as airspeed, heading, and pitch, as well as pilot inputs.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:26 AM on July 21


I was skeptical about the black box information above, but I since read somewhere that the sound of the explosion of the warhead captured on the CVR might be able to fingerprint the type of missile - and thereby potentially rule out an air-to-air shoot down, which has been floated by the Russians as an alternate scenario.
posted by Rumple at 10:33 AM on July 21


but if the Netherlands– a pretty powerful country, still

The Netherlands is the 64th largest country by population, but it remains the world's 17th largest economy. Just so you know.

The black boxes will certainly prove useful to the investigation, but not necessarily in the sense of telling us e.g. who fired that SAM. It may well confirm the altitude and ATC instruction, which are of some interest.

dialetheia, I doubt the black boxes could be tampered with to the extent of creating a false narrative, but damaging them sufficiently to thwart the investigation is probably possible and within the capabilities of the separatists. They're not going to be as important as other evidence in terms of pinning this on Russia or its proxies, though, and in that sense tampering with them is of less value, so let's hope they haven't.

The crash site is adjacent to the village of Grabovo. The train is still sitting in the railway station at nearby Torez.

Both of which, to further clarify, are within Donetsk Oblast (region), as well as within the claimed/controlled territory of the Donetsk People's Republic. But they're only about 40 miles from the city of Donetsk in any case, so the war is still uncomfortably near.
posted by dhartung at 10:34 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Journalist Noah Sneider tweets: #MH17 body train has left the station. Torez, 19:00. Destination still unconfirmed, though likely Kharkov.
posted by travelwithcats at 10:43 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Guardian: "The train carrying MH17 victims is en route to Kharkiv but will pass through Donetsk, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko says in a statement."
posted by travelwithcats at 10:52 AM on July 21


Needing Better Control in Ukraine War, Moscow Sends in an Old KGB Hand
Antyufeyev is perhaps Moscow’s most experienced practitioner at the art of the “frozen conflict.” That, of course, is the Kremlin’s tactic of sponsoring a secessionist war in a nearby country, and then propping up a breakaway mini-state as a thumbscrew by which to force the targeted government to become Moscow’s submissive ally. In the press conference July 10 that introduced Antyufeyev to Donetsk, he acknowledged helping in all of the Kremlin-initiated frozen conflicts so far: the Transnistrian war, and the secessions from Georgia of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In Donetsk, he is tackling by far the biggest, most populous and most economically important region that Russia has attacked in this way.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:58 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


but if the Netherlands– a pretty powerful country, still

The Netherlands is the 64th largest country by population, but it remains the world's 17th largest economy. Just so you know.

Sorry, are you agreeing or disagreeing that the Netherlands is still a pretty powerful country? I think awareness of the large Dutch economy is why ThatFuzzyBastard made that comment.
posted by spaltavian at 12:04 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


"MH17 body train has left the station" is not a sentence I had hoped to have to read in this lifetime.
posted by Justinian at 12:15 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Guardian: "UN Security Council passes MH17 resolution
The resolution, unanimously passed, calls for for an independent investigation and full access to the site."
posted by travelwithcats at 12:27 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


A small, forgotten sidebar has resurfaced on Twitter (for me and others) -- Putin's mysterious daughter Mariya Putina is supposedly in a relationship with a Dutch man, Jorrit Faassen, a remarkably young executive with Russian firms connected to Gazprom (the Russian oil conglomerate). They reportedly live in a suburb of The Hague [video report in Dutch]. He has diligently kept his daughters out of the spotlight, even sending them to college (in Europe, apparently) under assumed names. They are socially close to the daughter(s?) of Silvio Berlusconi, whose combination of wealth and political power makes him one of Putin's few real peers.

Regarding the "10 Questions to Ukraine" posted above, and shothotbot's point

To my mind, this shows the long term costs of a solid decade of lies and deception from the US in my opinion.

... it's interesting that the Russian FM seems to have taken its cue, cheekily and deliberately, from the US State Dept.'s earlier attempt to go viral with President Putin's Fiction: 10 False Claims About Ukraine. And in any case the US is clearly being targeted by the Russians as the puppeteer behind this crisis, but really, the plethora of victims is spread across many countries and the outrage is nearly universal (listening to the diverse statements at the Security Council). They may still have some traction in the General Assembly, but none of the sitting ministers in the UNSC are having any of it.

Since the SC does not apparently have its own Twitter, and its website is not updating quite in real time, here is the text of the Australian-drafted resolution [scribd].
I am uncertain if the passed resolution includes the language "Expressing serious concern that armed groups in Ukraine have impeded immediate, safe, secure and unrestricted access to the crash site and the surrounding area for the appropriate investigating authorities", which seems to be the sort of blame-y wording that Russia was resisting. In the end they did not exercise their veto. [Relevant blog post from the UN equivalent of Scotusblog]

spaltavian, I'm disappointed that you seem to be taking my comment in bad faith. ThatFuzzyBastard stated a value judgement, and in response, I stated facts. I believe they speak for themselves: Though not an especially populous country, the Netherlands punches far above its weight economically.
posted by dhartung at 1:30 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


No Botox could hide the bags under his eyes, nor powder his sweating skin, and his demeanour suggested he was fizzing with rage.

I suspect his fury is aimed not only at the Ukrainian government, which he continues to blame for creating the situation that led to the downing of the jet, and not only at the west for demonising him as a monstrous killer – but also at the band of rag-tag Russian separatist gangsters whose sheer incompetence has landed him in such deep ordure.

posted by KokuRyu at 1:43 PM on July 21


ThatFuzzyBastard stated a value judgement, and in response, I stated facts. I believe they speak for themselves: Though not an especially populous country, the Netherlands punches far above its weight economically.

Like spaltavian, I'm totally confused as to what point you're trying to make. You sound like you think you were correcting ThatFuzzyBastard, but what you're saying is in complete agreement with him. Did you think that when he said the Netherlands was a "pretty powerful country, still" that he was being ironic? Or did you just mean to lend more precision to his claim? To be honest, your comments would make most sense if you'd just misread it as "pretty powerless country."
posted by yoink at 1:49 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


dhartung: spaltavian, I'm disappointed that you seem to be taking my comment in bad faith. ThatFuzzyBastard stated a value judgement, and in response, I stated facts. I believe they speak for themselves: Though not an especially populous country, the Netherlands punches far above its weight economically.

Now I'm very confused. I don't think, and didn't say, your comment was in bad faith. I was asking if you were agreeing or disagreeing. A statement was made that the Netherlands is a powerful country, and then you citied a fact that appears to agree, but I read the sentence construction and the added "just so you know" as possibly disagreeing or correcting, so I asked for clarification, that's all.

Even here, you are calling ThatFuzzyBastard's comment a "value judgement" which sounds disapproving, but you both agree that the Netherlands remains a powerful country. Are you objecting to his use of "still"? I not accusing you of anything, I'm just trying to understand your point.
posted by spaltavian at 1:50 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


For pity's sake, yoink, I made a factual statement. If the day has come when contributing factual statements to a conversation is deprecated, it's a sad day indeed.

spaltavian, when someone says a country (say) is "powerful" that is a value judgement. What is not being understood here? Power (political, at least) is not something that is measured in precisely one comparable and objective way.

Recognizing that this is a sad and horrible event (and one that has left the US comparatively unscathed), can people be a little less touchy? Everything in this conversation seems to be about what you read in to my words, or don't or can't.
posted by dhartung at 1:54 PM on July 21


Oh, come on. That is a fruitless derail. I read dhartung's comment as adding further info (something we all do), not disputing anything. Maybe that wording was clumsy, maybe not. Let's move on.
posted by travelwithcats at 1:58 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


If the day has come when contributing factual statements to a conversation is deprecated

No one is deprecating that, dhartung.
posted by yoink at 2:00 PM on July 21


I thought 16th largest economy was a pretty interesting factoid.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:16 PM on July 21


It didn't have much to do with anything, but it was interesting.
posted by koeselitz at 2:21 PM on July 21


Actually it is an entirely relevant factoid when you compare per capita GDP with Russia. The country, theoretically, wields and inordinate amount of economic might compared to its relative small size. Presumably this, and the country's willingness to "step up" and shoulder a burden in Afghanistan should give it influence within Europe and NATO.

So hardly an irrelevant factoid at all.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:27 PM on July 21


The Kyiv Post's Christopher Miller tweets: "Asked if #MH17 black box would be handed over tonight, Malaysia delegation tells me, "we have no idea."

Guardian's Alec Luhn ‏tweets pics of the wreck:
"Expert: Pic of shrapnel damage to #MH17 cargo bay suggests missile. Analysts can find where made" & "Another photo of #MH17 fuselage damage also suggests a missile strike"
posted by travelwithcats at 2:29 PM on July 21


If it needs to be said, the only people I want to hang here are Volodya and his grotesque cut-out, Strelkov. I watched much of the Security Council debate and, considering the venue, the Dutch ambassador (not a member of the Security Council this term) made quite an impassioned and moving statement. Belgium's ambassador also referred to the Netherlands as "a country with which we have an especially close relationship", which was also an emotional moment.

I just saw this on Twitter, for what it's worth: A modest #MH17 memorial in Donetsk rebel HQ, from BuzzFeed's Max Seddon. Fascinatingly placed right next to a reproduction of the famed Soviet poster, Did You Volunteer?, by Dmitry Moor, further underlining the Soviet nostalgia underlying the rebellion. A twitter reply says that the laser-printed page uses an ad slogan meaning "If you're not with us, we're coming to you." Irony abounds.
posted by dhartung at 2:34 PM on July 21


Dutch foreign minister's statement to United Nations on plane crash on soundcloud, for those interested in listening.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:45 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, it looks like the Russian weapons company that makes the missiles that probably shot down MH17 is headquartered in Amsterdam.

In terms of the Netherlands punching above its weight, it's not just about size of the economy but other kinds of influence. For example, a number of huge multinationals are from the Netherlands, including Philips, Shell, ING, Unilever, and DSM. It's the world's 7th biggest exporter (ahead of Russia). Incredibly for a tiny and densely populated country, it's second only to the UNITED STATES in agricultural exports (in monetary terms)! It's also Europe's second biggest producer of natural gas (after Norway).
posted by Emanuel at 2:48 PM on July 21 [10 favorites]


Also ahead of the game in tolerating retail pot sales!
posted by Drinky Die at 3:04 PM on July 21


Actually, we're a bit backtracking on pot sales.
posted by Pendragon at 3:11 PM on July 21


Lawmaker Asks Why U.S. Didn’t Warn Airlines of Ukraine Threat
A Republican lawmaker (Duncan Hunter) is pressing the Obama administration for an explanation about why the Federal Aviation Administration didn’t warn airlines about the presence of SA-11 anti-aircraft missiles in eastern Ukraine.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:12 PM on July 21


That's stupid. They had been shooting down military transport planes. What else could they have been using but surface to air missiles? Harsh language?
posted by Justinian at 3:17 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Just now: Black boxes handed to Malaysian authorities. I think it's past midnight there -- reporters are all exhausted and this dicking around served no real purpose.
posted by dhartung at 3:18 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


The Kyiv Post's Christopher Miller tweets: "#MH17 black boxes now in hands Malaysia delegation. pic.twitter.com/lFL5Wm4wWi"
posted by travelwithcats at 3:20 PM on July 21


Just now: Black boxes handed to Malaysian authorities. I think it's past midnight there -- reporters are all exhausted and this dicking around served no real purpose.

Maybe they were stalling until the FSB was finished tampering with them in the hotel room next door.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:22 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


INSIDE THE BATTLE TO CRUSH UKRAINE’S REBEL CAPITAL AS DUTCH SEARCH FOR MH17 CLUES
by Anna Nemtsova

posted by Golden Eternity at 4:27 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Government by Moral Panic

Corporate conglomerates, a military-industrial complex, rich and insecure churches, noisy social movements (more of them on the Right than the Left), local governments carving out their own extortion zones, and many more mini- and mega-oligarchies multiply. As happens when a once coherent power is privatized, each tries to establish its own small dictatorship over whoever it can influence. This Russia, one scholar says, is ” a highly corrupt state that still cannot fully control its borders, monopolize the legal means of violence, or clearly articulate its role in the contemporary world.” For all his shirtless preening, Putin is no muscle-man able to wield top-down control. Instead he must exhort, scare, cajol, and distract the rest of society till he gets his way.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:37 PM on July 21


There was already a fairly in-depth discussion on LNG up-thread.

God and can we really just not do that again/more?
posted by emptythought at 5:41 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


[A few comments removed, jamming a bunch of sarcasm into the thread at this point isn't going to improve it.]
posted by cortex at 7:06 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Malaysia Premier Brokers Deal to Recover Black Boxes

'If all participants honor the deal, it would be a diplomatic success for Malaysia. Mr. Najib said that at times over the past few days he had wanted to be more outspoken about events in Ukraine, “but sometimes, we must work quietly in the service of a better outcome.”

'The agreement is the result of an unusual spate of diplomacy by Mr. Najib, who held a series of secret telephone calls with Mr. Borodai. A person with a detailed knowledge of the negotiations said that Mr. Borodai concluded that he would only release the bodies and black boxes to Malaysia, although Malaysia would then transfer the bodies to the Netherlands and make the black boxes available for an international investigation.

'The backdrop for the negotiations was a slowly growing criticism within Malaysia, including by some in the political opposition, that Mr. Najib did not appear to be more publicly critical of the separatists or Russia.'
posted by cendawanita at 8:19 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


Violence has erupted near Donetsk airport and railway station (video)
posted by cendawanita at 10:05 PM on July 21


Train has arrived in Kharkiv, according to the current Guardian's Live Updates
posted by Mister Bijou at 3:38 AM on July 22


the US is clearly being targeted by the Russians as the puppeteer behind this crisis

Russia is trying to do their usual "Come unto us, all ye who are weary of the Americans" schtick; Putin's been building a brand as the guy who'll take your calls when you'd rather be dropping chemical weapons and not being lectured about it. But this time he's got the Europeans good and mad at him, and even the sympathy of anti-American Europeans isn't enough to get this written off.

(and in the hopes of ending, not continuing, a derail: My comment was meant to indicate the the Netherlands, despite being a small country, as a major power, thanks to their large economy, big export numbers, and many multinational companies, and getting a bunch of Dutch people killed is not something Putin can sweep under the rug)

I wonder if Putin really is feeling the pressure. I hope so. All over the region, he's been pursuing a very 80s Cold War strategy of empowering proxies and encouraging their worst impulses. Even within Russia, it seems like every couple years there's a hot new trend in teen street brutality (before the Kremiln was quietly encouraging homophobic street violence, it was quietly encouraging nationalistic street violence). If this forces Putin to at least keep his dogs leashed, that'll be some improvement.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:38 AM on July 22


Asian Correspondent: Media and Malaysian Tragedy - A Look At Coverage of MH17 and MH370
(semi self-link: I inspired this article and was interviewed for it)
posted by divabat at 8:05 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


What Europe Can Do About Putin
We’ve wavered long enough. Here are six actions the EU could take immediately.
By MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI July 21, 2014
For months, a meaningful European response to Russian actions in Ukraine has been held hostage to diplomatic maneuvers crafted by those who hoped the conflict in Ukraine would fizzle before biting sanctions would be required. This is a game Russia mastered long ago, and President Putin has steadily provided those looking to ignore his behavior with the placatory statements and talking points they need.
...
More credible observers have seen that Putin has meticulously followed his original plan: steadily supplying intelligence operatives, special forces and weapons to continue the insurgency while waiting for Ukraine’s forces to exhaust their own men and supplies, for Ukraine’s economy to collapse, and for Ukrainians, especially those in Kyiv, to become frustrated when their government is unable to end this assault and turn against the authorities again.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:25 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Here are six actions the EU could take immediately.

And won't. Those Mistral carriers are going to be delivered as promised. The EU is utterly powerless in this situation, and it would do well for them to simply admit it, stop pretending, and get on with things.
posted by aramaic at 9:01 AM on July 22


Looks like Hollande is threatening to stop delivery of the second ship only, if Putin doesn't provide more 'placating words' again soon.

Hollande says French warship delivery will ‘depend on Russia’s attitude’
Latest update : 22/07/2014

posted by Golden Eternity at 9:17 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Can I just say that it's a little bit confusing that they found a guy named Hollande to be the President of France? Those tricky French!
posted by newdaddy at 9:27 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


Orders from Moscow indeed.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:27 AM on July 22


What Europe Can Do About Putin

A beaut of a sentence on p. 2: "The choice is not to bomb or not to bomb."

The warship thing is fascinatingly reminiscent of a century ago, as dramatized (with some license) in Reilly: Ace of Spies. The Czar was rebuilding the Russian fleet following defeat by the Japanese, and the European powers and the US were competing to build it for him. Reilly [an exiled Russian Jew from Odessa], who historians still disagree about, may have been representing the Germans while still working for British intelligence -- or pursuing his own ends. In any case the story as told is that the Brits wished to scuttle the German deal and get the contracts for themselves. Nobody at the time considered Russia a strategic threat to European powers.
posted by dhartung at 10:29 AM on July 22


Former Soviet SAM operator weighs in over on reddit.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:41 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Cockpit of MH 17 found sawed in half at crash site
International monitors who have finally gained full access to the Malaysia Airlines crash site in eastern Ukraine said Tuesday the Boeing 777's cockpit inexplicably had been sawed in half while under the control of Russian-backed separates.

The monitors said they are not sure why the major piece of evidence from the downed plane was tampered with.

posted by dhartung at 10:41 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


“Turns Out It’s Pretty Easy to Shoot Down a Passenger Jet,” Alex Davies, Wired, 22 July 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 10:57 AM on July 22


ChurchHatesTucker: “Former Soviet SAM operator weighs in over on reddit.”
Christ…

The thing is, I presume guys like this aren't really fans of Putin either. What's the Checkist's end-game here?
posted by ob1quixote at 11:28 AM on July 22


MH17 Ends Russia's Dreams of Soft Power
Before last week, the Kremlin was eagerly upping the ante over Ukraine, seeking to isolate the U.S. by portraying it as overly confrontational while decoupling Europe and Asia with lucrative business deals. Some called for a "grand strategy" where Russia would lead the fight for a "more just world order" taking up other nations' anti-American grievances.

In early July, the deputy secretary of Russia's Security Council, Yevgeny Lukyanov, outlined a bizarre proposal to convene an international conference meant to negotiate the terms of "the new world order," giving Russia a "droit de regard" in its near abroad and a veto over U.S. actions.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:50 AM on July 22


Looks like Hollande is threatening to stop delivery of the second ship only, if Putin doesn't provide more 'placating words' again soon.

Maybe it's the translation, but I "love" how forthright Hollande is about how money in France trumps whatever is happening in or to other countries.
But speaking to reporters on Monday, Hollande noted that, “The Russians have paid. Should we repay 1.1 billion euros if the boat was not delivered to the purchaser?” he asked. "The contract was signed in 2011, the boat is almost finished and should be delivered in October."
posted by Kevin Street at 2:08 PM on July 22


Rather than demand they undo the deal, it would probably be more effective to demand that they donate the entire sum to the families of the dead.

...which won't happen either, but it would be a heck of a lot more awkward for Hollande. Vastly more social pressure could be organized around the latter option.
posted by aramaic at 3:31 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


So just to sum up, and correct me if I'm wrong:

1) Ukrainian separatists backed by the Kremlin murder 295 civilians
2) The bodies are being returned to the Netherlands
3) The black boxes, hopefully untampered, are making their way to authorities
4) The crime scene is irrevocably contaminated, making any findings difficult
5) Kremlin gets off scot-free
6) ????
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:50 PM on July 22


Hollande's job approval is at 18 percent (not a typo). He doesn't have much maneuvering room.

feckless, the modal outcome with international law tends to be less "crime --> punishment" and more "undesired behavior --> end of undesired behavior". I don't think Putin set out to be an international terrorist (at least, having this kind of awful global reach) and realistically bringing Russia back into the fold of well-behaved nations is probably a desirable end goal, so actually punishing him in some way is potentially counterproductive. It's not what people like to hear but it's what it is.
posted by dhartung at 4:11 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Are most people in France in favor of delivering the warships unconditionally?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:15 PM on July 22


Oh understood dhartung. It's just frustrating that Putin gets to sleep comfortably at night with the blood of 295 civilians (at least...) on his hands, you know?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:22 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


New York Times: Jet Wreckage Bears Signs of Impact by Supersonic Missile, Analysis Shows
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:42 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Are most people in France in favor of delivering the warships unconditionally?

I can't find a poll, but a) as noted Hollande is in the popularity dumps, and b) French right-wing-nut-job Marine Le Pen (daughter of the more openly racist candidate of years past) has led her party to a stunning 25% of the French vote in the last round of elections. Despite being a virulent nationalist, Le Pen has shown great appreciation, shall we say, of the Russian side of things, and two weeks ago described sanctions on Russia as "stupid". At some level this is just the Gallic poke-in-the-eye aimed at the EU, I suppose, but it suggests that again France prefers not to march in lockstep with Continental or Western consensus (recall that de Gaulle took the country out of NATO coordination for a number of years; they only regained full member status in 2009).

The whole Mistral purchase baffles me, and I'm not alone -- even Russian-based critics have questioned why Russia needs helicopter carriers given its strategic profile. They're a form of force projection, which is why the US has thirty-one amphibious assault ships of various configurations -- not even counting our full-size carrier groups. So the whole problem of how Russia intends to use them is a bit of a head-scratcher -- unless they intend, as we may well have to conclude at this point, that they are expanding their strategic horizons. (My take is that, in line with Putin's apparent love of playing the spoiler, they would be awkward uninvited guests in future global crises.) On the other hand, the mystery here has been seen by others as indicating that Russia's primary purpose isn't the actual use of the ships but to gain access to Western and particular NATO military tech know-how.

In any event, it's a clear indicator of how much the relationship of Russia and the West has changed in just 3-4 years.
posted by dhartung at 5:49 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


It's just frustrating that Putin gets to sleep comfortably at night with the blood of 295 civilians (at least...) on his hands, you know?

Oh, he's used to having blood on his hands.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:58 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Fighting in Donetsk

The tactics of the Ukranian army seem a bit baffling. They send three tanks alone into Donetsk to be destroyed while shelling civilians and then stop for the night.
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:04 PM on July 22


Oops forgot the link.

Fighting in Donetsk
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:11 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


They've done little actual urban fighting to date. Keep in mind the Ukrainian military has participated in no international actions and has very few veterans with combat experience (which would date to 23 years ago at least). Meanwhile the pro-Russian separatists are getting direction and bolstering their ranks from seasoned veterans of conflicts in the Caucasus. Not to turn this into a war blog, but they are entering the most difficult stage of the conflict.

In other news, #MH17 is no longer a top-ten trending topic on Twitter.

Simon Ostrovsky of VICE News has a new dispatch showing tampering with the crash site (and a local insisting that the belief in the area is that "the Ukrainian side" shot down the plane in order "to show how bad the separatists are" and "bring NATO troops here". There's also a Borodai news conference guarded by at least one guy with a distinctive Chechen beard (and he DOES NOT like being filmed). Note rebels wearing St. George's ribbon (blue and orange, a Russian/Soviet military service honor), at least one fan of The Cure (I guess), and rescue workers wearing the uniform of the State Emergency Serivce of Ukraine (MNS, looks like MHC Україниa).
posted by dhartung at 7:01 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


dhartung: “The whole Mistral purchase baffles me, and I'm not alone -- even Russian-based critics have questioned why Russia needs helicopter carriers given its strategic profile. They're a form of force projection, which is why the US has thirty-one amphibious assault ships of various configurations -- not even counting our full-size carrier groups. So the whole problem of how Russia intends to use them is a bit of a head-scratcher -- unless they intend, as we may well have to conclude at this point, that they are expanding their strategic horizons.”
“Russia, Canada, and China Are Fighting For Control of the Arctic,” Ben Makuch, VICE, 10 January 2014

“NATO Cold-Weather Training Exercise On Russian-Norway Border May Increase Recent Crimea Crisis,” Christopher Harress, International Business Times, 10 March 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 7:39 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Saying that Canada is "fighting" for control of the Artctic is wildly overstating our national resolve about anything other than ice hockey. We're super stingy when it comes to buying military hardware (not that we need it really). I'm not really sure what our Arctic strategy is beyond relying in the fact that we have claimed jurisdiction over it for a long time... But we certainly aren't going to deploy amphibious assault ships because we don't have any!
posted by KokuRyu at 9:44 PM on July 22


Thanks for the explanation, dhartung!
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:52 PM on July 22


Today's update from Ukrainian reserve officer Dmitry Tymchuk. Dmitry is in top form.

US shows evidence it says shows Russian role in loss of jet over Ukraine

MH17 crash: Did Russia pull the trigger? Ukraine says yes
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:58 PM on July 22


Technically, a canoe could be an amphibious assault vessel.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:06 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


ob1quixote, points taken, but I'm still struggling to come up with a mission for an amphibious assault vessel. Not trying to be snarky, but (virtually) nobody lives there and most of the Canadian Arctic islands are uninhabited. There are a few mines here and there, but no permanent military installations to speak of. Any potential threat is represented directly by the Canadian Navy, and you don't amphibiously assault other boats, really.

I do see that Canada was considering buying its own Mistrals back in the aughts but has that whole idea on the back burner now and by the same token, I can't think of many reasons for Canada to have one of them. But KokuRyu, it is definitely the case that Canada is taking a keener interest in defending its northern waters. It's building a mini-fleet of "Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships", replacing existing Coast Guard vessels, followed by a new generation of surface combatant ships to replace both Navy destroyers and frigates. Still, their arctic strategy remains largely conceptual in nature.

Wreckage at crash site "significantly altered", monitors tell ABC News (US). Similar information to previously linked stories.
posted by dhartung at 11:32 PM on July 22


It really has been fascinating to watch the extent of the Russian propaganda machine at work during this situation.
posted by crayz at 11:41 PM on July 22


did i miss mention of a DEFECTOR?
posted by dougiedd at 12:24 AM on July 23


I'm an old WWII grognard. If I've made reference to "the Ukraine," I apologize, but that's what everyone said, back in the day, when that monster Stalin tried to destroy the Ukrainian people through starvation.

a flood of photos and other data from social-media sites

I can't help but laugh at the idea of Joseph Goebbels on Twitter and Hitler on Facebook. Goebbels is frothing on #1KYearReich while Adolf and Eva are posting funny dog pictures.
posted by SPrintF at 12:34 AM on July 23


Yesterdays OSCE press conference on situation at the crash site [SLYT]
posted by travelwithcats at 5:59 AM on July 23


The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) announced: "The recorders from MH17 have been delivered by the Dutch Safety Board to the AAIB Farnborough for download"

The Guardian writes: "The voice recorder carries two hours of cockpit audio recording. Analysts looking into crashes will examine not just what the pilot and co-pilot say but also any telltale clicks as instruments are engaged, as well as possible sounds of an explosion.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport, of which the AAIB has been a part since 2002, said:"They're confident that, depending on the level of damage, they will be able to retrieve the information within 24 hours and they'll feed it back into the investigation.""
posted by travelwithcats at 6:16 AM on July 23


Pro-Russian rebels have shot down two additional Ukrainian fighter jets
posted by exogenous at 6:24 AM on July 23


The UK AAIB is downloading the recorders? Do the Dutch really not have the capabilities to do this, or is this a "neutrality" thing?
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:54 AM on July 23


The Economist: National Heartbreak - the Dutch and MH17

In a country of 16.8m, the crash, which killed 193 Dutch citizens, had (proportionally) 1.5 times the impact on the Dutch population of that of the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001 on the American population.

posted by bukvich at 7:08 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I was also wondering why the recorders had been sent to the UK. I guess there are all sorts of jurisdictional things (country of aircraft manufacture, country of aircraft manufacturer, originating country of the actual flight, country of airline, country where crash occurred, etc), but not sure where the UK fits into that.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:17 AM on July 23


I read that Dutch officials requested help from the UK on the matter of flight recorders, IIRC.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:20 AM on July 23


The Most Dangerous Man in Ukraine Is an Obsessive War Reenactor Playing Now with Real Weapons
But in fact, Strelkov does not run the social media pages that generate these quotes. He never has. Since April, he has only published his messages on an Internet forum dedicated to the antique trade, http://forum-antikvariat.ru. He writes under the username “Kotych” (“Cat”). Others then take Strelkov’s messages and copy them on to Facebook, VKontakte, and Livejournal. Some of these pages are maintained by Strelkov’s sincere fans. Others are run by Ukrainian activists, still others just by pranksters. As a result, it can sometimes be difficult to divine authentic quotes from fabrications. For example, “Strelkov” once ordered his subordinate Cossacks to dress less provocatively in order to avoid provoking sexual desire among gay Caucasians.
...

But why does Strelkov communicate with his fans through an antiquing forum in the first place? It’s very simple: for many years, this forum has been his main online refuge. Before he became a military star in Ukraine, Strelkov was already a star among war reenactors. These men arm themselves with old weapons, dress in military uniforms, and gather in deserted places to act out long-ago battles. Strelkov “the cat” particularly loves the 1918-1920 battles of the Russian civil war, where he usually plays the role of a White Guard officer. Essentially, he is now playing the same role in Ukraine: his haircut, his mustache, his manners, and even his military tactics are almost all copied from images of White Guard officers in Soviet films.
Obama Orders Pentagon Advisors to Ukraine

Donetsk citizens begging P. Gubarev (leader of Donetsk Republic) to leave. Says they have nowhere to go.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:57 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I lit a candle this afternoon. We are having a national day of mourning today here in the Netherlands, and a few minutes of nationwide silence at 16:00 in reverence to the victims and their families.


.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:05 AM on July 23 [13 favorites]


Maybe reverence is the wrong word. Y'all know what I mean. I'm sad and I don't want to think about what would be a better word now.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:12 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


So if the rebels maintain that they "don't have the capability", who shot down those two jet fighters?
posted by monospace at 8:21 AM on July 23


Putin: "There is no direct military threat to our country’s sovereignty or territorial integrity at present."
posted by Chutzler at 8:37 AM on July 23


Some in Ukraine are saying they were shot down from Russia along with other rockets landing in eastern Ukraine, but I've never seen this confirmed by a third party. SU-25's fly at a low altitude to hit ground targets with rockets and canon fire. They could have been shot down by shoulder launched manpads which the "separatists" don't deny possession of.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:38 AM on July 23


According to the BBC the British Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) are one of only two so-called "replay units" in Europe with the necessary equipment to listen to what has been recorded on the cockpit voice recorder. The other is in France.
posted by merocet at 8:40 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Currently Dutch television is covering the transport of the bodies from airport Eindhoven to Hilversum where they will be identified; a column of forty hearses in rush hour over some of the busiest highways in the country.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:55 AM on July 23 [4 favorites]


ob1quixote, points taken, but I'm still struggling to come up with a mission for an amphibious assault vessel. Not trying to be snarky, but (virtually) nobody lives there and most of the Canadian Arctic islands are uninhabited.

Guys they can still see Sarah Palin's porch from where they're at!
posted by newdaddy at 9:30 AM on July 23


Dutch Safety Board: "An international team of investigators has conducted a thorough examination of the Cockpit Voice Recorder. The Cockpit Voice Recorder was damaged but the memory module was intact. Furthermore no evidence or indications of manipulation of the Cockpit Voice Recorder was found. Following the examination, the Cockpit Voice Recorder data was successfully downloaded and contained valid data from the flight. The downloaded data have to be further analysed and investigated." [PDF]
posted by travelwithcats at 9:56 AM on July 23


The Guardian has a short video of the arrival ceremony. Somber silence. Posted at 5.48pm BST.
posted by travelwithcats at 10:06 AM on July 23


Reuters: "In an interview with Reuters, Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion, acknowledged for the first time since the airliner was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday that the rebels did possess the BUK missile system."
posted by ringu0 at 10:37 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


ob1quixote, points taken, but I'm still struggling to come up with a mission for an amphibious assault vessel. Not trying to be snarky, but (virtually) nobody lives there and most of the Canadian Arctic islands are uninhabited.

There are very real challenges to Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic (keeping in mind that we "own" a huge area stretching up to the North Pole), notably over the Northwest Passage, which is predicted to become ice-free by 2030. And of course, there is oil and gas waiting to be "discovered" in areas that Canada "owns."

I'm not sure if a Mistral-class amphibious ship can navigate in Arctic waters, ice-free or not, but Canadian competitors in the region such as China, the United States, Russia, and even Denmark have the ways and means to assert themselves. Canada doesn't really, although the current government did launch a ship-building program specifically intended to deliver patrol ships that can operate in an Arctic environment. But the government, as Canadian governments like to do with any kind of hardware procurement, military or not, tried to do it on the cheap, and the program has, if not stalled, then slowed down.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:42 AM on July 23


"They [Ukraine] knew that this Buk existed; that the Buk was heading for Snizhne," he said, referring to a village 10km west of the crash site. "They knew that it would be deployed there, and provoked the use of this Buk by starting an air strike on a target they didn't need, that their planes hadn't touched for a week."

"And that day, they were intensively flying, and exactly at the moment of the shooting, at the moment the civilian plane flew overhead, they launched air strikes. Even if there was a Buk, and even if the Buk was used, Ukraine did everything to ensure that a civilian aircraft was shot down."

Except for targeting the aircraft, and then also shooting the missle at it, yeah.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:59 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


It's the "stop hitting yourself!" mode in geopolitics these days, I guess.
posted by aramaic at 11:01 AM on July 23


While the US and Denmark may be Canadian competitors for oil rights in the Arctic, I can't see either country threatening a military intervention against Canada unless we get a lot closer to some Mad Max sccenarios. And the US would certainly intervene on Canada's behalf if China or Russia tried to make claims - the US has every interest in keeping Canada's oil supplies high so that our own remain safer.
posted by maryr at 11:15 AM on July 23


What claim does China have in the Artic?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:27 AM on July 23


The UK AAIB is downloading the recorders? Do the Dutch really not have the capabilities to do this, or is this a "neutrality" thing?

"It is normal procedure for black boxes to be sent for analysis to the nearest laboratory authorised by the International Civil Aviation Association (ICAO).

"The black boxes will therefore be flown to Farnborough, UK, accompanied by Malaysian experts and other members of the international investigation team," says Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai in a statement.

Meanwhile, Bernama quotes his deputy, Aziz Kaprawi, as saying the black boxes must be opened and analysed immediately in line with ICAO’s regulations.

"There are several labs around the world which can analyse black box data and I think the nearest one is in the United Kingdom,” he says in the report yesterday, adding that bringing it back to Malaysia would be in contravention to the regulations.

According to the BBC, there are only two countries in Europe that are equipped to handled the black boxes: the UK, and France. -- malaysiakini


Personally, I'm happy to drop the Canadian Arctic derail -- it's a big, big country and Canada has a smaller population than California, so it's gonna be hard. Returning to Russia's situation, the list of places with a significant shoreline and Russian national interests is fairly short -- Cuba, Venezuela, what's left of Syria? The Georgian shoreline is already a Russian "frozen conflict" zone pretending to be an independent state. Maybe Finland and the Baltics should be nervous. Transnistria?

The nearby fighter jet question was addressed by a special post at The Interpreter, rounding up information from several non-English media sources:
The overall intent [of Russian propaganda] is nakedly to shift blame onto Kiev (and Washington) and to provide the basis for subsequent challenges to the inevitable findings of any serious international enquiry: that MH17 was shot down by a rebel missile (as they themselves have been overheard admitting).

Broadly speaking, the “questions”—all unashamedly leading ones—framing Russia’s implicit defense argument concern three broad questions: the shift in MH17’s flight from its original route; the alleged presence of Ukrainian air defense units in the area, with their radars active; and the alleged presence of Ukrainian military aircraft close to the airliner shortly before and after it had been shot down.

posted by dhartung at 11:36 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Is it possible that the rebels targeted a Ukrainian fighter jet operating 2-3 km below MH17 and hit it instead? Could the missile overshoot like that?
posted by maggieb at 11:56 AM on July 23


According to the BBC, there are only two countries in Europe that are equipped to handled the black boxes: the UK, and France.

That's quite interesting, I would have expected it to be a normal capability of most any country's transportation investigation authority. Guess not.
posted by kiltedtaco at 12:05 PM on July 23


Interesting article that shows how this disaster has been viewed within Russia: The Russian Public Has a Totally Different Understanding of What Happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
“It’s noticeable that the Kremlin is much more tempered than Russian TV but can’t change it,” Pavlovsky says. “It’s fallen into a trap, so it's now trying to function within the strictures of this picture.” He cites the example of the PR contortions the Kremlin had to use just to announce that it would not send troops into eastern Ukraine. “In this seemingly controlled media, any rational political arguments of the state have to be hidden and packaged in idiotic, jingoistic rhetoric,” Pavlovsky says.
(Imo) There's a very strong parallel with the American right-wing spin machine. Russians live in a media bubble and are very frightened and distrustful of the West, particularly NATO and especially the United States. If the destruction of flight MH17 has somehow hurt the freedom fighters in Ukraine then it must somehow be benefiting the West and been part of their plan all along. It's all a huge conspiracy to hurt Russia, and we must support Putin for he's the only one that can stand up to the monsters that surround us in the dark.

The problem with this kind of constant propaganda is that it radicalizes your whole population, and the government has to resort to increasingly elaborate spin (that fits within the already established narrative) to justify to the home audience why they're not reacting like this is the biggest crisis ever. Just like the Republicans had to work to explain to their constituents why they voted to increase the debt ceiling.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:12 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Is it possible that the rebels targeted a Ukrainian fighter jet operating 2-3 km below MH17 and hit it instead? Could the missile overshoot like that?

Since the separatist rebels had been shooting down large cargo and troop planes the week before the MH-17 incident, which fly at an altitude closer to that of a commercial airliner, it seems more likely they simply mistook the airliner for one of those.
posted by aught at 12:14 PM on July 23


maggieb, the Buk missiles use SARH (Semi-Active Radar Homing) guidance, meaning that the radar on the launch vehicle illuminates the target, and the missile tracks the signal reflected from the target. So it's not a case where the crew fired at one target and the missile decided to home on a different target instead. In order for something like this to happen, the launcher crew would need to intentionally change targets while the missile was in flight and start tracking/illuminating MH17 instead of the hypothetical Ukrainian warplane.

It's not impossible, but it's fairly unlikely and still requires voluntary action by the crew of the launch vehicle.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 12:15 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


maggieb, that's what the link I just posted deals with. One counterclaim by the rebels is that Ukraine knowingly flew a low-altitude attack mission while a civilian airliner was in the skies. This sells well with the separatists and supporters, but it really only makes sense if the war were going really well for them and Ukraine needed -- as the theory goes -- more robust NATO backing. Thus far, however, they're on their back foot, and of course, nobody is actually talking about NATO doing anything, at least not within the territory of Ukraine. (NATO's most recent relevant communiqué, which notes that Ukraine's FM has recently affirmed that membership is off the table.)

kiltedtaco, I think in this case it may not just be a question of downloading the data, but forensic assurance that the devices have not been tampered with.

The Guardian's live blog comments (on tweets):
The Wall Street Journal's Moscow correspondent, Paul Sonne, has tweeted some context to the importance a rebel commander's interview with Reuters, in which he admitted separatists had a Buk missile system.

Sonne writes the the "key context to [rebel leader Alexander] Khodakovsky's interview is that he is local, not Russian, and has criticized other rebel groups. If things go bad, Khodakovsky is Ukrainian, whereas [Alexander] Borodai, [Igor] Strelkov and others are Russian. [It would be hard for Khodakovsky] to run back to Moscow."

[Sonne's tweet text: Seems like the blame game, internecine warfare amongst the rebels might have just been stepped up a notch. Varying groups, interests. #MH17]

The New York Times' Moscow correspondent Andrew Roth makes a similar point, referencing the "Spetsnaz" – the special operations unit to which Khodakovsky formerly belonged.

[Roth's tweet: Khodakovsky is fmr speznaz commander, intelligent, actually from Ukraine. Must know his @reuters interview could fatally discredit rebels.]


Meanwhile, inspectors on the crash scene report:
* that rebel guards have evaporated since the bodies were removed
* that looting may not have been as bad as feared
* that significant evidence of puncture damage to the fuselage is being found
* that human remains are still to be found and they are keeping their eyes open
posted by dhartung at 12:21 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


> There's a very strong parallel with the American right-wing spin machine ...

Эпистемическая закрытие?
posted by benito.strauss at 12:25 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Russian soldier posted on social media how they were "shooting the whole night over the Ukrainian border."

inforesist.org
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:06 PM on July 23


And the US would certainly intervene on Canada's behalf if China or Russia tried to make claims

I think in that case it would quickly stop being on Canada's behalf and start being the establishment of a defacto US arctic protectorate without meaningful Canadian sovereignty.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:12 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


And the US would certainly intervene on Canada's behalf if China or Russia tried to make claims

The US does not explicitly recognize Canada's sovereignty over the Northwest Passage. On top of that, the US is not always so friendly to Canada, particularly when there is a Democrat in the White House, or when the Democrats control Congress.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:42 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


All of that surprises me, do you have a relevant link or other source I could take a look at on USA-Canada relations?
posted by Drinky Die at 1:59 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


The US does not explicitly recognize Canada's sovereignty over the Northwest Passage.

Nor does most of the world's powers with shipping concerns.

On top of that, the US is not always so friendly to Canada, particularly when there is a Democrat in the White House, or when the Democrats control Congress.

Yeah, [citation needed] on this one.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:13 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


On top of that, the US is not always so friendly to Canada, particularly when there is a Democrat in the White House, or when the Democrats control Congress.

They burned down the White House!
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:41 PM on July 23 [11 favorites]


the establishment of a defacto US arctic protectorate without meaningful Canadian sovereignty

Like the rest of the Americas, then?
posted by localroger at 3:41 PM on July 23


They burned down the White House!

And the president at the time was technically a Democrat[ic-Republican] -- that explains it!
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:52 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Yeah, [citation needed] on this one.

You make it sound like I need a citation because I am expressing a minority position; I would suggest instead that you are unfamiliar with the US-Can relationship. But it's not a very controversial point of view. Not at all.

The "Buy American Act" basically violates the FTA between Canada and the US and has cost Canadian businesses billions (and has cost American taxpayers more, too); Obama's foot-dragging on Keystone-XL is worse than an annoyance, it is a strategic defeat for Canada and is also causing tensions within Canada; and who can ever forget Janet Napolitano (a Dem appointee) saying in 2009 that 9/11 terrorists came from Canada???

It's not that Dems hate Canada exactly; it's just that in a certain sense Democrats are more conservative (when talking about trade) than the more liberal Republican Party. Protectionism is fine I guess, but as Cartman would say, "We had a deal."

By the way, all this stuff is just government-to-government. I have many more close American friends than Canadian friends.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:34 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


Kennedy hated Diefenbaker, and vice versa.

Kennedy-Diefenbaker relationship ‘a toxic swamp’
posted by Kevin Street at 7:20 PM on July 23


Can this thread not be about the relationship between the US and Canada, please? It doesn't seem all that relevant.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:58 PM on July 23 [13 favorites]


AIR ALGERIE PLANE DISAPPEARS FROM RADAR

Spanish airline Swiftair was operating a MD83 as #AH5017 for of Air Algerie. Reports say that there were 110 pax + 6 crew onboard.

Christ.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:21 AM on July 24


More on the Air Algerie flight - it was en route from Burkino Faso to Algeria - so no Ukraine region link, it would seem. But possibly one to Mali.
posted by rongorongo at 5:04 AM on July 24


Air Algerie Flight AH5017 Crashes in Niger Due to Bad Weather
posted by travelwithcats at 5:48 AM on July 24


America's Flight 17: a re-examination of the US investigation into its shooting down Iran Air Flight 655. “I will never apologize for the United States—I don’t care what the facts are.” (then Vice President George H.W. Bush)
posted by Nelson at 8:31 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Ukrainian prime minister tenders his resignation in parliament
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:34 AM on July 24


Putin is preparing a heavily armed "private" army for invasion of Ukraine

Proposed EU sanctions threaten to shut Russia out of the world financial system
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:14 AM on July 24


sorry to be monolingual, but is there an english version of the article about the Russian Blackwater guys?
posted by angrycat at 10:19 AM on July 24


angrycat – here is a screenshot of the "Russian Blackwater" story run through Chrome's "translate" function.
posted by koeselitz at 11:12 AM on July 24


Donbass coal miners' support of DNR
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:57 PM on July 24


There are good photos and some armchair analysis at this link which apparently show shrapnel damage to the cockpit area of the fuselage. The pictures are mainly from the flickr stream of a photojournalist in the area, Jeroen Akkermans
posted by Rumple at 2:09 PM on July 24


FWIW, James Fallows, the veteran journalist for The Atlantic Monthly in the US who has written deeply on aviation issues for ages, is defending Malaysian Airlines on Twitter re: the flight route issue. He says the route was OK'd by governing authorities so not MA's fault
posted by Bwithh at 1:28 PM on July 18 [1 favorite +] [!]


New York Times op-ed by James Fallows: Don't Blame Malaysia Airlines
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 10:07 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Sort of a Not All Coal Miners thing -- earlier there were mixed reports of miners both joining pro-Russian protesters and building occupiers, and fighting with them. I can't find it now, but weeks ago as the situation in the East was becoming fragile, a coal mine owner supposedly tried to activate his miners as a batallion against the protesters, but it seems they were easily beaten back (and may not have been very much in a mood to fight), as well as a weird official request from some miners to be armed as reservists by Kiev, but it's not clear that Kiev thought this was a good idea.
posted by dhartung at 12:07 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Back in March, I think, there was an announcement for reserve mobilization and just a few days ago Ukraine has called up its reserves again, now drawing men up to the age of 50. Probably includes some miners as well.
posted by travelwithcats at 12:55 AM on July 25


German, Dutch firms ready to take hit from Russia sanctions
posted by Anything at 2:24 AM on July 25


WHAT HAPPENED? THE DAY FLIGHT 17 WAS DOWNED
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:04 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Russia Is Pregnant with Ukraine
Vladimir Sorokin
Putin’s Russia had spoken of Ukraine disdainfully—it was a backwater, dull and provincial. Suddenly, Ukraine became incredibly fashionable and modern, while enormous Russia seemed hopelessly backward, cumbersome, and provincial.
...

“Why do I have to wake up every morning and listen to news about that stupid old Ukraine?” one friend complained indignantly. “We’re up to our ears in it day in and day out.” “I can’t believe that Russia and Ukraine are fighting,” says another. “It’s like a nightmare…” “All of us Russians are sitting in a huge theater, watching a play called Ukraine. And you can’t leave the theater!” a third laughs bitterly.
...

Russia is pregnant with Ukraine. Birth is inevitable. There is more to come: the intensifying labor pains, the tearing of the umbilical cord, the newborn’s first cries… The infant’s name will be beautiful: Farewell to Empire. Will it have a happy childhood? We don’t know yet. Many people sincerely hope it will grow up strong and healthy. But what of the mother? The coming labor will be difficult, and there will certainly be complications. Will she survive? And what about the rest of the world?
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:46 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


U.S. Says Russia Tested Cruise Missile in Violation of (Arms) Treaty
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:39 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


"European Union governments reached a deal on Tuesday to impose economic sanctions against Russia, targeting its oil industry, defence, dual-use goods and sensitive technologies."

"US will follow EU in likely escalation of Russia sanctions, says White House
Blinken said the existing sanctions regime had already produced "major strategic gains" in Ukraine, leading to a new government and the signing of the EU association agreement.

However, he said US intelligence assessments indicated that Moscow continued to transfer heavy weaponry and fighters across the border to aid pro-Russia separatists, and had stationed Russian troops near the border. He described Putin's strategy as one of "doubling down" on support for separatist fighters."

"Japan to step up sanctions against Russia
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the sanctions include the freezing of assets held in Japan by individuals and groups supporting the separation of Crimea from Ukraine, and a ban on Crimean imports. He said the steps are in line with measures taken by European Union and Group of Seven nations."
posted by travelwithcats at 9:04 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Guardian: "Tony Abbott and police are frustrated with both the Ukraine government and pro-Russian militia over a lack of access to the MH17 crash site.

For the second day running an unarmed Australian and Dutch police contingent was forced to turn around due to shelling and gunfire before reaching the area toward Ukraine's eastern border where the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was downed on 17 July."
posted by travelwithcats at 9:46 AM on July 29


Ukraine rebel chief Igor Bezler: 'I won't hesitate to have you shot'

Nicknamed the Demon, leader said to be behind the downing of MH17 ends rare interview by exploding into rage and threatening journalists

posted by Golden Eternity at 10:51 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]


Golden Eternity: “Nicknamed the Demon, leader said to be behind the downing of MH17 ends rare interview by exploding into rage and threatening journalists”
It's one thing for one of these tinpot dictators to carve out an isolated piece of jungle or desert or mountain valley somewhere and set up shop as a Colonel Kurtz wannabe. How in the hell does this happen in a city of nearly 300,000 people?

I'm having a hard time coming up with a link to a coherent situation report, but apparently Horlivka is currently under siege by Ukrainian forces.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:17 PM on July 29


FSB agent and professor of strategic management at the Moscow State Economic University Olga Kulygina was released in exchange of 17 UKR hostages

You may remember the picture of her wearing a purple blowse and dark skirt crossing the street with an assault rifle.

CATCH HER IF YOU CAN
But most remarkably, Olga has been best friends with Igor Girkin, the brooding, cross-era-dressing Defense Minister of said non-existent Republic, and retired FSB operative. Girkin fought hand to hand with Olga in Transnistria, they started a relationship that only got stronger over time. Olga was by far the most frequent correspondent of Girkin’s during the 2009-2014 period, based on my analysis of over 3.5 GB of hacked emails. She was also the only person he confided in, and who knew his inner most world, including his travails with women, evil colleagues and psychiatrists.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:25 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


There's a veritable rogues' gallery of shady Russian operatives involved here with biographies stretching back through all the post-Soviet conflicts and struggles that I would love to know more about. Are there any good books or documentaries about these people?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:01 AM on July 30


cross-era-dressing Defense Minister

Well, I read THAT wrong at first pass...
posted by Theta States at 6:03 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


Former US Intel Officers Warn President Obama on US Actions Against Russia
posted by bukvich at 6:52 AM on July 30


Are there any good books or documentaries about these people?

This 'Christo's blog' I linked to above is fascinating. I have no idea of its veracity.

Belarus to host Ukraine crisis talks
Belarus is to host talks between Ukraine, Russia and OSCE representatives on the crisis in eastern Ukraine, President Alexander Lukashenko's office has said.

It did not say when the meetings would take place but the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, asked Lukashenko to host the talks on Thursday, and to focus on securing access to the site where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was brought down in east Ukraine this month.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:59 AM on July 30


The Flight of ‘The Demon’: A Brutal Russian Officer Reportedly Flees His Place In the Ukraine War
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:53 AM on July 30


The Kremlin Floats An Exit Strategy
"If at some point it becomes evident that the insurgents had some connection to this, that would radically change [Putin's] attitude toward them -- even if it was a fatal mistake," Kolesnikov wrote. "Children who died for nothing, as well as adults and elderly people, this is a red line he will not cross. He will not cover up for those who did this if he knows they did it. He will not have this sin on his soul."
...
Kolesnikov's column has also provoked a bit of hand wringing in the nationalist press. "Common people who read 'King Lear' think that court jesters exist to tell the monarch the truth with a smile on their face," Yegor Kholmogorov wrote in "Vzglyad." "The truth is that they are used to tell lies in the monarch's name. Andrei Kolesnikov is one such person who is close to Putin who set off a storm among journalists who are accustomed to seeing signals every time he sneezes."

It's too early to tell whether this was a trial balloon, a signal of a policy shift, or a court jester telling noble lies for the king.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:02 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


If Putin wants to find a way out, that's his best route: "we are shocked, shocked to discover that these separatists are a bunch of irresponsible psychos inexplicably armed with sophisticated Russian military weaponry!"
posted by yoink at 3:58 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Since I mooted this part of the discussion, here's an update:
Trial over Malaysian plane crash not likely at ICC: Dutch

The takeaway is that both the Netherlands and Malaysia are dead serious about having some kind of prosecution. Whether they will be able to get one may be a complicating factor in mutual relations with Russia, depending on whether some sort of sanctuary is offered, or the relevant parties actually survive the remaining weeks of fighting.
posted by dhartung at 7:11 PM on July 30


Bezler and Borodai are supposedly in Moscow. They should survive; unless Putin doesn't want them to.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:34 PM on July 30


A Russian soldier has posted pictures to Instagram that show him operating military equipment inside Ukraine, including manning a BUK missile launcher
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:21 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


So... does Russia not have anything equivalent to the US armed forces OPSEC rules? Because he's posting, literally, locations of troop movements on social media.

I mean it's interesting, but it's also interesting and kinda embarrassing whether it's evidence relating to this or not.
posted by emptythought at 1:22 AM on July 31


emptythought: “So... does Russia not have anything equivalent to the US armed forces OPSEC rules? ”
I'm sure they do, but I'm not sure Sergeant Sotkin realized he was revealing his precise location by posting to Instagram. Even though, having just brought up the app and looked at the posting interface, it seems obvious to me that if you slide the photo map slider to the right, you'll be revealing your location to your followers.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:44 AM on July 31


@Brown_Moses: The thing with looking for shrapnel damage on MH17 is you tend to find stuff like this too. pic.twitter.com/Zy0BnWWgap
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:07 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Russian radio interception: ‘Ukrainians fight better, it’s a full-fledged army’
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:13 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


The Russians only thought they were tough when they had Ukrainians fighting with them.

Actually, that's facile and wrong. Ukraine has been taking it on the chin from the Scythians to the Huns to the Maygars to the Mongols to the Cossacks to the Reds to the Nazis and then the Reds agains and then they were Soviets. Prosperous, loyal Soviets. Hard fucking workers, smart scientists.

Now, here is the line in the steppe. Ukraine is now a European power. You must be at least this Stalin tall to ride this ride. Putin will do his best to measure up. He'll fail, as Obama had his number (GDP) from the get-go. Slow, steady, relentless, wait for your enemy to mess up.

Russia likes to think of itself as the New Rome, with the Americans as the New Carthage. Kinda hard to see when the French are building their carriers for them. The question is no longer whether Ukraine is European or Russian. The question is whether Putin wants to open another never-ending front, and sell oil and gas at abysmal black-market prices, or if his regime could survive any of the above.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:17 PM on July 31


Volodymyr Groysman, Vice-PM of Ukraine and head of the government taskforce for MH17 crash investigation, at a briefing in the Ukraine Crisis Media Center:

Q: Will Russia be participating in the investigation of the MH17 tragedy?

Groysman: Russia has already participated in the tragedy.
posted by Kabanos at 7:14 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


A Russian soldier has posted pictures to Instagram that show him operating military equipment inside Ukraine, including manning a BUK missile launcher

though my mind remains wide open with regards to the rebels being the ones responsible for the crash, these images do NOTHING to convince me. Sort of Russian looking guy (complete with tattoos) mugging for the camera, intercut with photos of actual missiles. Utterly fakeable in every detail. Actually, no "faking" required. Just a few things juxtaposed.

Come on, internet, at least try.
posted by philip-random at 8:19 AM on August 1


though my mind remains wide open with regards to the rebels being the ones responsible for the crash

what? as opposed to whom, exactly? Unless you mean rebels-with-Russian-equipment-and-personnel?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:26 AM on August 1


the rebels seem to be BY FAR the most likely perpetrators of the disaster, no question. How does that sound? Which doesn't alter the fact that that BUZZfeed link is sloppy as hell.
posted by philip-random at 8:50 AM on August 1


Again. As opposed to whom, exactly?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:59 AM on August 1


you seem convinced that the rebels did it. Fair enough. I'm mostly in agreement with you, but personally more than 5,000 miles from the crash site, so awaiting a final verdict from the international investigators who only arrived on the site yesterday.
posted by philip-random at 9:04 AM on August 1


Do you have any evidence to show that anyone else could have been behind it? (Brainfarts claiming it was a false flag with zero evidence don't count.) Because there is lots and lots of evidence, including satellite photos of a BUK launcher with one missile missing heading back to the Russian border, radio intercepts, the tweets of the rebels themselves that take it pretty far beyond 'most likely.'

I mean, there's being open minded, and then there's... whatever you're doing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:08 AM on August 1


If one is already conspiracy-minded on this issue, then what difference would international investigators make? If the argument was that this was some sort of false flag, then nothing relating to that idea would show up in the stuff the investigators would be looking at. And if that's not the argument, then what is the argument?
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:15 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


From what I'm seeing (e.g. at r/UkrainianConflict), the primary takeaway of the Russian soldier and the Buk missile launcher stuff is not that Russia shot down MH-17 but that Russia is shooting at Ukrainian air force planes as a general point and that Russia is effectively already at war with Ukraine, ergo pretty much most of what comes out of Putin's mouth these days is a lie.
posted by dhartung at 9:55 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


I never got the feeling this guy was in the Buk that fired the missile. I just think it's amazing we keep seeing Russian soldiers fighting against Ukraine on social media, even after the guy bragging about firing artillery into Ukraine from Russia. This podcast may give a more convincing demonstration of what the internet has added to the MH17 investigation. Of course it is the internet: everything could be fake.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:10 PM on August 1


A Test for Ukraine in a City Retaken From Rebels
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:50 AM on August 2


MH17 MISSILE CAN'T HIDE FROM THESE INTERNET SLEUTHS
by Eliot Higgins (@Brown_Moses)

posted by Golden Eternity at 8:45 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]


If only it was possible to use social media to determine who was operating the Buk launcher that day, then there might be some suspects who could be tried for the war crime. (Assuming they could be located and arrested first.)
posted by Kevin Street at 5:58 PM on August 2


Donetsk ‘Republic’ Leaders’ Morale Plummeting
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:40 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Kevin, I don't think we need to wish for that. Given the size of the forces involved, and in particular the specialized equipment, we're probably only talking about at maximum a few hundred potential suspects. It will probably be very easy to determine the individuals involved, from button-pushers in the Buk vehicle to whoever gave the order, once the fighting is over and many of the partisans are in custody. There are those recorded transmissions/phone calls, as well, which will give voices that can be attached to particular actions. It's the locating and arresting that's going to be the problem -- by reports, Borodai and the ex-self-proclaimed Mayor of Sloviansk are among personages known to have already fled to Moscow.

The Other Side of the Same Coin: Meet Moscow's Parachute Politicians in Eastern Ukraine
From Transnistria to Abkhazia, over the last two decades Antyufeyev has played an instrumental role in the political architecture of nearly every breakaway republic in the post-Soviet space.

Ukrainian army closes in on Donetsk as rebel fighters call on Russia for help


Fresh Details Fail to Provide Clarity on MH17 Crash in Eastern Ukraine [The Moscow Times, by and for expats, not part of Putin's media claque but probably has to be careful]

Underground Art Collective Strikes Ukrainian Rebel Stronghold
posted by dhartung at 1:00 PM on August 3 [4 favorites]


The Russian Threat to NATO
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:45 AM on August 5


Former Horlivka prisoner recalls tortures, killings and intimate talks with captor
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:54 AM on August 5


MH17 breakthrough: owner of Volvo truck that transported missile fears his life
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:00 AM on August 5 [2 favorites]


At today's UN Security council meeting, the Russian Federation made its case for Russian humanitarian intervention in Eastern Ukraine. A redditor summarized their position well:
"We, the Russians, must save the suffering Russians, who are currently led by Russians, from catastrophic effects caused by Russians. We must do this by sending Russians to make them all Russians, especially the Russians."
posted by Kabanos at 7:38 PM on August 5 [9 favorites]


This is CRAZY if true:
Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, head of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), today stated that the 17 July shootdown of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 near Donetsk by Russian-backed separatists represented a terrible case of a Kremlin provocation gone horribly wrong. According to Nalyvaychenko, the SBU has evidence that what happened was the outcome of a diabolical Moscow plot to create a pretext for war, meaning Russian invasion, by shooting down an Aeroflot airline (specifically AFL2074, see details here) and killing its (mostly Russian) passengers, then placing blame on Ukrainian forces.

The SBU also claims to have intercepted a Kremlin hit list meant to "clean-up" certain LNR and DNR rebels.
posted by Kabanos at 9:37 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


now that's my kind of conspiracy theory
posted by philip-random at 10:04 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Even if they thought this were true, it's idiotic of them to publish it. It totally discredits what they have put out previously, along with their constant lying about civilian casualties.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:52 AM on August 7


I really doubt it. But if the rebels had shot down a plane with Russian citizens on board, that probably would have been a good excuse to invade and stabilize the area.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:27 PM on August 7


This is CRAZY if true

I've been skeptical until I saw this. This is the approximate movement of BUK missile launcher from Russia to Donetsk to Pervomayskoye close to Russian border. Note the other Pervomayskoye north-west from Donetsk. According to SBU, Malaysian airplane flew over the first one, while Aeroflot over the second one. They claim that had the plane been shot down there, it might have had fallen on the territory controlled by the Ukrainian army.

Remember that Putin has been accused at home of killing his own people before.
posted by hat_eater at 2:02 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Interestingly I saw several pieces yesterday saying that Russia is getting ready to step in and helpfully stableize East Ukraine. I had figured the odds were moving the other way.

Russia stirs fears of repeat Georgia war in Ukraine
Recent signs have been alarming. After reducing troops stationed along its border with Ukraine to little over 10,000 a few weeks ago, Russia has in recent days almost doubled the number to about 20,000, US and Nato officials say. Kiev says at least as many Russian troops are also in invasion formation in Crimea, the peninsula Russia annexed from Ukraine in March. Moscow, meanwhile, has begun large-scale air force exercises until Friday.

Most importantly, Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine face potential defeat by a revitalised Ukrainian army and are preparing for final stands in the regional capitals of Lugansk and Donetsk. On Tuesday night – with echoes of Tskhinvali six years ago – Donetsk came under aerial attack just as Russia summoned an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss a humanitarian “catastrophe” in Ukraine’s east.
[...]
The rationale for intervening would be to preserve rebel control of Donetsk and Lugansk and attempt to “freeze” the conflict, as Russia did in 2008 in South Ossetia. Russia recognised the republic’s independence soon afterwards and still occupies it.

That, in turn, would provide a continuing lever to achieve Mr Putin’s main strategic goal: keeping Ukraine out of Nato.
I was certain that I read something else making a simialr point but I cant put my virtual hands on it now.
posted by shothotbot at 2:03 PM on August 7


I've been skeptical until I saw this. This is the approximate movement of BUK missile launcher from Russia to Donetsk to Pervomayskoye close to Russian border.

I would advise remaining skeptical. The movements of the missile launcher, and everything that happened with it, could be pretty much the same whether or not there was a deliberate attempt to shoot down a civilian aircraft. There is also the possibility that if there was such a conspiracy it could have come from somewhere nearer to Donetsk than Moscow.
posted by sfenders at 6:01 PM on August 7


I would advise remaining skeptical.

You are right, there's no reason to actually ditch skepticism and become gullible instead. I might have perhaps written that this caused me to reclassify the provocation theory from "conspiracy" to "plausible". But I was somewhat shocked.
posted by hat_eater at 12:16 AM on August 8


I would advise remaining skeptical.

The article Kabanos links to goes on to give seven aliases, affiliations and (in 3 cases) names of people who the SBU claim were involved with the incident and who are now on FSB or GRU assassination lists. It would be interesting, as a side note, to see if these persons remain around for long.
posted by rongorongo at 4:47 AM on August 8


The blog I linked to belongs to John R. Schindler, Professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, previously from the NSA. So he is not some fringe tin-foil hat type. Now that alone certainly does not guarantee the veracity of the story; I think he's posted it though because it comes from directly from Ukraine's secret service. He has added an update since the original post:
UPDATE/COMMENT: I’ve been getting a lot of questions about this remarkable claim by Kyiv, specifically: Where’s the hard evidence? I find this story to be plausible, given known Russian intelligence tradecraft, what they call konspiratsiya, but the evidence we’ve seen to date isn’t exactly rock solid (I won’t say “a slam dunk,” thank you very much). The SBU has set a high bar for itself with its aggressive, and highly successful, public outreach in recent months, including its own YouTube channel where it has posted a lot of nearly raw intelligence, mainly SIGINT (see the next story). That Kyiv has not done so here tells me one of three things is going on:

1. The SBU has access to high-level Kremlin SIGINT, meaning they have cracked top-grade Russian codes, and releasing that SIGINT would compromise a very valuable source that Kyiv very much needs right now.

2. The SBU has a high-placed HUMINT asset in the Kremlin camp and compromising that source by releasing too much information here would be stupid as war with Russia looms.

3. This is an analytically-derived conclusion, based on a lot of evidence from many sources, none of them conclusive alone but which, taken together, lead to a firm conclusion based on multi-INT analysis.
Option 4 of course is that this is just disinformation. But the SBU has indeed "set a high bar for itself" over the past number of months in terms of the information it is making public, so it would be surprising for it risk the trust it's build up just to toss a wild story out there. And especially having the the HEAD of SBU present it, not just leaking this out somewhere. It will be interesting to see if any more info emerges.
posted by Kabanos at 8:17 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


twitter @MrKovalenko:
#BREAKING: President @Poroshenko called @VP Biden about a try of #Russian "humanitarian convoy" to enter #Ukraine. Convoy was stopped.

Rus "humanit. convoy" was massive, had "Red Cross permit". Red Cross assured @Poroshenko "It's fake". He timely ordered to stop it.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:25 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Red Cross backs Russia’s proposal on humanitarian aid to southeast Ukraine (ITAR-TASS Russia News Agency)
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:59 PM on August 8


Whoa... They really want to get in there, don't they?

Incidentally, it's extremely strange to do a Google search like Red Cross Ukraine and see ITAR-TASS and RIA Novosti stories mixed in with things like CNN and the New York Times on Google News.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:10 PM on August 8


cf. Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:14 PM on August 8


A bit of analysis with translations of the SBU slides.
posted by Kabanos at 7:22 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


In Ukraine, Separatist Commander 'Strelkov' Seems To Be Getting Frustrated
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:13 AM on August 9


Ukraine says stops Russian troops invading, Moscow calls statement 'fairy tale'
"Each time Kiev is more and more inventive in creating fairy tales," she said, noting that special protocols had to be completed before Russian troops could be sent abroad.

"The (Ukrainian) National Guard probably have to report about their achievements in the field, so they pretended they have some," she said.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:23 AM on August 9


Preparing for War, Putin Fired Officers Who Warned Him of Its Dangers, Kyiv Analyst Says
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:37 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Why Did Putin Fire 18 Top Law-Enforcement Officials?
It is not likely directly related to Ukraine but is more about Putin reinforcing areas of domestic vulnerability to make him more efficient in general in pursuing both increased authoritarian rule at home and foreign adventures.
'The Next Stalingrad' Awaits in Ukraine

Ron Paul: the US knows ‘more than it is telling' about MH17

Russia’s top 80 lies about Ukraine
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:24 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Putin Believes He Can Win a War with NATO, Piontkovsky Says
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:29 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Wow, the zombie of nuclear war is shuffling in our direction? Is it a fast zombie or a slow zombie?
posted by localroger at 5:06 PM on August 10


Golden Eternity: “Putin Believes He Can Win a War with NATO, Piontkovsky Says
Well, that's terrifying.

Especially when put that together with all this from last week:

“The INF Treaty and Russia’s Road to War,” Tom Nichols, The National Interest, 02 August 2014
Russian military leaders fear that they will be defeated in any major conventional engagement, and so must rely on nuclear deterrence to prevent an enemy from taking advantage of a battlefield victory.
“Putin’s War and the Hitler Thing,” John Schindler, The XX Committee, 02 August 2014

“How to Respond to Russia’s INF Treaty Violation,” Thomas C. Moore, War on the Rocks, 04 August 2014

“How to Respond to Russia’s INF Treaty Violation,” James M. Acton, The National Interest, 06 August 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 5:50 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


The New Straight Times: US analysts conclude MH17 downed by aircraft
KUALA LUMPUR: INTELLIGENCE analysts in the United States had already concluded that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by an air-to-air missile, and that the Ukrainian government had had something to do with it.
I believe this is the largest English language newspaper in Malaysia and has a solid reputation there.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:26 PM on August 10


That is so vague and counter to all other sources of information, I'd be suspect of that actual source being someone trying to push Russia's story that it was the Ukrainians trying to shoot down Putin's flight.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:48 PM on August 10


(The straiffed it with machine guns after hitting it with a missile bit has a special journalist flare to it - its pure excessive force).
posted by mrzarquon at 7:50 PM on August 10


Yeah, it's weird that this could get published in a major Malaysian newspaper and not helpful.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:56 PM on August 10


Firstly, that's Straits, not Straight - it's a reference to the Malaccan and Tebrau Straits.

Secondly, major news outlets in Malaysia tend to have pretty dodgy reporting. I'd recommend either The Sun or the online-only Malaysiakini.
posted by divabat at 8:06 PM on August 10


Oops, of course. Thanks.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:10 PM on August 10


(NST and the like don't really have a great reputation within the urban/city/progressive types because they're all Gov mouthpieces by necessity - won't get your permit otherwise. To the best of my knowledge Malaysia doesn't have any specific pro or anti Russian leanings so I'm not sure what they'd gain out of that article. but the NST et al has been quick to publish unverified information as fact, as demonstrated by MH370 coverage.)
posted by divabat at 8:11 PM on August 10


Twitter: @BBCGavinHewitt: EU Pres Barroso talks to Putin and warns against any unilateral military actions in Ukraine, under any pretext, including humanitarian.

Twitter: @MrKovalenko: Putin threatened @BarrosoEU by phone today that "Russia decided to send "humanitarian convoy with troops" to #Ukraine

Twitter: @MrKovalenko: Putin tells @BarrosoEU that Russia's "humanitarian convoy" is agreed with the @ICRC and will rumble into #Ukraine

ITAR-TASS: Putin: Russia sends aid convoy to Ukraine

Kremlin.ru: Telephone conversation with the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso
It is noted that the Russian side, in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross sends aid convoy to Ukraine.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:32 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Putin Believes He Can Win a War with NATO, Piontkovsky Says

Near as I can tell, this article is solely made up of the musings of a Russian progressive who has spent the last few years writing books about Putin. His political stance is brave, considering the possible retaliations he might endure, but it doesn't sound like Piontkovsky has any special insight into the workings of NATO.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:17 AM on August 11


Still no comment from the ICRC, but there are indications that Poroshenko has made some sort of agreement with Russia regarding humanitarian aid.

ITAR-TASSLavrov said that the details of the humanitarian operation agreed with Kiev
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:34 AM on August 11


Is Russia Sending An 'Aid Convoy' Into Ukraine?
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:45 AM on August 11


aid convoy gets attacked by 'ukrainians', russia sends in troops to protect the next convoy, etc..
posted by empath at 10:52 AM on August 11


I think the worry is that the presence of Russian peacekeepers (of whatever kind, they could even be legitimately there to help civilians) will prevent the Ukrainian military from moving in on Donetsk and bringing the insurrection to a close. In the interregnum there will be time for the rebels to reorganize and rearm, or even escape across the border.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:20 AM on August 11


Ukraine, Red Cross to lead humanitarian effort to Luhansk Oblast

Looks like the agreement is for an international aid mission including Russia to pass through Ukrainian controlled border crossings. If Russia sends their own convoy through border regions under their control it will get interesting.


twitter: @MrKovalenko : Ukrainian activists warn that by their intelligence data Russian "humanitarian convoy" will again try to enter #Ukraine around 23:00 today.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:56 AM on August 11


Based on this ICRC statement, it doesn't seem they thought this through very well. Way too much latitude given to Russia.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:22 PM on August 11


I'm going to try and remain optimistic that this "humanitarian" angle is a preparation for a strategic retreat of sorts by Putin. By focusing support on humanitarian aid, Putin can dial down his support of the armed pro-Russians. He can say he stands with the Russian people of Ukraine, not with those crazy separatist militants where did they come from anyway.

Also, I've seen claims from a few Russians along the lines of "The West wants us to invade!" Sergey Karaganov is one of these. Recall he's the guy who came up with the whole protect-Russians-in-the-near-abroad doctrine. He's now saying that direct military invasion in Ukraine would lead to a "Second Afghan War" that could lead to Russia's collapse the way the Afghan war did to the USSR. Publicly framing it this way, the Kremlin can back away from invasion while still claiming victory ("Putin's too clever to fall for that trick!"), and maintaining domestic popular support.

If there is a retreat along these line, it will only be in the obvious military sense. Other methods (political, economic, covert) of destabilizing and harassing the Ukrainian government will continue, I'm sure.
posted by Kabanos at 12:27 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


300 Russian Army KAMAZ trucks, painted white. These were obviously prepped before today's agreement, and look like they'll be manned by RF military personnel. Not sure who is going to be checking contents of those trucks as they cross the border!
posted by Kabanos at 12:59 PM on August 11


Not sure who is going to be checking contents of those trucks as they cross the border!

That ICRC statement, if legitimate, is not encouraging. It doesn't specifically state that Ukraine must be allowed to check the contents.

Russia is bringing a lot of other interesting hardware to the border as well:

Dear Internet, I'm happy to break the news #Russian army brought S-300 AA radar to #URK brder. http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-40V6M-Mast-System.html …

Obviously, Ukraine needs to be cautious. They must show solid evidence that Russia has used the aid convoy as a Trojan horse before attacking it in any way. But even if Russia doesn't sneak in military equipment and personal, they can use the aide vehicles to shield their "separatist" forces. Should be interesting.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:09 PM on August 11


personalnel
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:22 PM on August 11


Russia Says To Hand Over Aid Convoy To ICRC In Ukraine
Russia's Foreign Ministry says a humanitarian convoy which is heading to eastern Ukraine from Russia would cross the border only "under the aegis of the International Committee of the Red Cross."
...

Ukraine's military said it will not allow the convoy into the country unless it is certified by the ICRC.

The Ukrainian military also said the aid would have to be unloaded from the Russian trucks and transferred by the Red Cross to other vehicles.
...

ICRC spokesman Ewan Watson told RFE/RL, "At the moment it is not an International Red Cross convoy, inasmuch as we haven't had sight of the material, we haven't had certain information regarding the content, and the volume of aid that it contains."
...

The (Russian Foreign) ministry said it was "bewildered" by Ukraine's claims the route had not been agreed with Kyiv, and by "all these new logistic requirements."
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:36 AM on August 12


It's sounding like Kyiv has decided to let the convoy in once it's inspected by Ukrainian border agents. From the President's press secretary:
Yesterday, Ukraine agreed to accept Russian part of humanitarian aid if it is overloaded to hire Red Cross trucks and accompanied only by the Red Cross.

But Russia has rejected the proposal.

So today we have three scenarios:

First. Direct invasion of the territory of Ukraine under the pretext of humanitarian cargo.

Second. Provocations with the load in the Kharkiv region with a high probability of aggression by Russia.

Third. Help Lugansk passing through the checkpoint closest to this Ukrainian city. Our customs officers, border guards and the OSCE can scan the goods on the Russian-Ukrainian border. The mission will move to a territory that is under the control of militants. After arrival in Lugansk distribute aid among civilians will red cross.

The decision to accept assistance to Lugansk and thus prevent a large-scale invasion of Russia was adopted at a joint meeting on the night of 12th to 13th August with the participation of the President, Prime Minister, Speaker of the Parliament and force ministers.

Today Ukrainian part of the international humanitarian aid sent to Lugansk.

Ukraine can not leave its citizens, who are held hostage to the terrorists in the occupied territories.

Glory to Ukraine!
Doesn't seem to me like they're thrilled with this decision, but their options are probably limited given Russia's determination to get this convoy in. Best case, humanitarian goods get emptied in Luhansk showing Russian good will, and the returning trucks are used to evacuate Russian Spetznaz and RF military equipment (this is IF Putin is looking to pull back, and scapegoat the separatist leadership). Worst case, the 300 trucks go not just to Luhansk (city) but spread out across the whole Donbas making them likely targets of either accidental or "provocation" shelling, and thus providing "cause" for more overt Russian military invasion.
posted by Kabanos at 8:01 AM on August 13


Yesterday, Ukraine agreed to accept Russian part of humanitarian aid if it is overloaded to hire Red Cross trucks and accompanied only by the Red Cross.

Russian Foreign Minister says that #Russia'n aid will not be loaded in other trucks, convoy will proceed to destination with #Ukraine plates

There are reports that Strelkov has been seriously wounded.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:04 AM on August 13


Some internet sleuthing on the aid convoy:

Russian reinforcements and supplies disguised as 'humanitarian aid' for Ukraine
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:05 AM on August 13


Novaya Gazeta Editor: Boroday Called Moscow Press About Downing of Civilian Airliner
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:58 PM on August 13


Borodai has now said that Strelkov (Girkin) has resigned, while still denying he was wounded. Strelkov will be replace by "Tsar".

Also, reports that the Ukrainian army has taken Novosvitlivka (E of Luhansk). As the Ukrainian govt spokesperson points out, this "blocked the last opportunity for the auto service between the captured Lugansk and other areas that are controlled by Russian mercenaries, in particular border crossing point Izvaryne on the border with Russia." Izvaryne was (most recently) to be the crossing point for the Russian 'humanitarian' convoy into Ukraine. With the Ukrainian army now holding part of the main highway between Luhansk and the border, the convoy must pass through territory held by both sides, so this will get interesting.
posted by Kabanos at 8:45 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Internet sleuthing of Russian forces shelling towns in E. Ukraine. Helping to create a need for humanitarian aid? (The ATO has shelled civilian areas as well and denied it as I understand it, but I suspect they have been targeting opposing forces in those cases.)
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:23 AM on August 14


Russian Troops Cross Into Ukraine, Large Military Convoys Spotted Just Hours Away
And while there are tens of thousands of Russian troops on the border, there are now many more tens of thousands within 5-10 hours of the border.
...

The point is that there are dozens of reports like this, and coupled with the fact that the aid convoy is not traveling where Russia said it was going to travel, and with the fact that Russian armor has now been spotted crossing the border, the safe assumption is that Russia is preparing to outright invade Ukraine all of this equipment could be on the other side of the border before the weekend starts.

Will Putin commence with a full-scale invasion? There is no way of telling. Could he? Yes, and within minutes of giving the order Ukraine would be faced with a massive Russian military presence. What is the likelihood that it could happen? Well, if you ask reporters on the border today, they'd all tell you that in small scale it's already started.
In small scale it started a long time ago - as soon as Yanuchovych was ousted. There was a lot of consternation on twitter about Putin's meeting in Crimea today - that something felt wrong about it. His speech was apparently quite peaceful though.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:18 PM on August 14


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