Over five years have gone by since the tragic loss of a passenger plane flying from Amsterdam towards Kuala Lumpur across eastern Ukraine, costing the lives of all 298 passengers and crew.
Yet thanks to the way this disaster has been politicised by those in the west, which is less concerned with learning the truth about what happened than with fashioning another stick with which to beat Russia, the families of the deceased are no closer to getting the full and unbiased account of events that at least might allow them to arrive at some degree of closure.
Right from the moment the Dutch-led joint investigation team (JIT) was formed, it was clear that anti-Russian bias was a given, even down to the basic fact that Ukraine was included on the team whilst Russia was not.
Yet despite this snub, Moscow continued tirelessly offering cooperation, submitting radar records and declassified military data, including a file which proved that the missile which was suspected of bringing down MH17 had been in Ukraine’s hands since the 1980s.
Other key evidence that was shrugged off was the testimony from the manufacturer of the Buk missile, Almaz Antey. When the company carried out two full-scale experiments to reconstruct the MH17 crash, the data demonstrated that the missile that downed the plane was not used by Russia and was instead an older model fired from a Ukraine-controlled area.
The JIT rejected all this pertinent data out of hand, clearly determined to see Moscow sidelined and demonised at all costs.
Malaysia spills the beans
One team member, Malaysia, has gone badly off-message however. The Malaysian prime minister, Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, pointed out that even after five years, “we do not know who launched the rocket … We know it was a rocket but we have yet to know who did it,” adding that Malaysia was not at all convinced by the JIT’s findings regarding Russia’s alleged role and demanding that the investigators provide proof that Russia was behind the shooting.
“From the very beginning it became a political issue on how to accuse Russia of wrongdoing,” he concluded. (MH17 crash: Malaysia PM Mahathir denounces murder charges, BBC, 20 June 2019)
And the Dutch themselves have on other occasions been more even-handed when released from the JIT straitjacket. In 2015, the Dutch safety board, along with lawyers representing some of the crash victims, criticised Ukraine for failing to close its airspace over what had become (thanks to Kiev’s aggression) a chaotic warzone.
This clear abdication of Kiev’s responsibility to safeguard commercial traffic by suspending overflights across its territory has never been satisfactorily addressed. To do so would risk reopening the whole question of how eastern Ukraine came to be a warzone in the first place.
The violent overthrow of the democratically elected government of Ukraine by a western-orchestrated fascist putsch in 2014; the defensive measures taken by the population of the Donbass in revolt against being ruled by the jumped-up Kiev junta; the military aggression against that population by the Ukrainian army supplemented by neo-nazi militias; and the failure of Kiev to meet any of its obligations under the Minsk peace accords to which it is a signatory … all of this must remain a closed book.
Because to open that book would be to demonstrate the real source of all the bloodshed and suffering of which the tragic loss of flight MH17 is a sad feature: the imperialist manipulation of festering ultra-nationalist, russophobic sentiment in the Ukraine to stoke up an endless anti-Russian provocation on its eastern border.
Now, after five barren years of transparently partisan ‘investigation’, comes the farce of a ‘criminal prosecution’. The kangaroo court in the Hague has picked on four men – Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko – whose only ‘crime’ is having played a prominent role in the anti-fascist resistance in the Donbass.
This trial in absentia, designed solely to afford the maximum opportunity for imperialism to milk the tragedy for further russophobic propaganda, will not get any closer to the truth of events and does a grave disservice to the grieving relatives.
Workers must see this propaganda drive for what it is: a further attempt to stoke up support for all-out imperialist war against Russia.