The shooting down of a Malaysian airliner (MH-17) over Ukraine on July 17 played very well into the plans of the Ukrainian government and its U.S. sponsors. As soon as this horrendous crime, which killed all those aboard the plane, became known, both governments wasted no time to start howling that the separatists did it, and Russian hetman (Cossack leader) Vladimir Putin was to blame (for allegedly having provided the military hardware that was said to have been used). The shoot-down also moved the European Union (EU) to ramp up sanctions against Russia, which it had earlier been resisting; and it served to change the dynamic of Ukraine’s war against the pro-Russian separatists of South-Eastern Ukraine in favor of the Kiev government.
In the absence of any credible evidence, the U.S. government and its servile UK allies and media moguls expect us to believe their separatists-and-Putin-did-it charge. “Putin’s Missile” claimed the Sun. “Cold War II” proclaimed Time Magazine. “The Pariah,” with a picture of Putin with mushroom cloud eyes, decorated Newsweek; and “A Web of Lies,” again with a picture of Putin, adorned the Economist. The world’s people require some better answers.
What tales we weave
The Kiev/Washington claims did have some initial attractions, however. The plane came down right over the disputed Luhansk-Donetsk area in Eastern Ukraine where the separatists are actively resisting Kiev’s military onslaught. Separatist had recently shot down a Ukrainian military cargo plane, and there were some recorded communications in which separatists claimed to have brought down another such plane. Associated Press and other western media displayed a YouTube video that was said to be of a “Buk” (surface-to-air) missile launcher rig being taken back to Russia. Case closed!
Are we to believe that Obama’s intelligence sources are good enough, or objective enough, to report what’s really going within hours of the event?
Actually, it turns out that at least some U.S. intelligence sources aren’t so sure of the official line. Robert Parry, of the Consortium News website, says that “some U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded that the rebels and Russia were likely not at fault and that it appears Ukrainian government forces were to blame, according to a source briefed on these findings.” Parry also reported that according to his sources, “the working hypothesis of the U.S. intelligence analysts is that a Ukraine military Buk battery and the jet fighters may have been operating in collusion as they hunted what they thought was a Russian airliner, possibly even the plane carrying [Putin].” (“Flight 17 Shoot-Down Scenario Shifts,” posted August 3, 2014, Consortiumnews.com)
Robert Parry is a long-time investigative reporter who has worked for or contributed to the Associated Press, Newsweek, PBS’ Frontline, salon.com and Bloomberg. He broke the Iran-Contra story, including the CIA’s “Psy-Ops manual” for the Contras, and the Oliver North and drug-running aspects; and he wrote a piece on how the Reagan administration brought pressure on the National Security Council to cover up the scandal. He left both the AP and Newsweek over their collaboration with Oliver North, and pressure on him to retract the Reagan cover-up story, respectively. Everything Parry reported on was later confirmed as true by the CIA. Parry also exposed the “October Surprise,” concerning the 1980 election, and supported Gary Webb over the publication of his book Dark Alliance, as well as covering numerous other stories. Parry’s reports of U.S. intelligence assessments which are in total contradiction to the U.S./Kiev anti-Russian narrative have credibility precisely because of their contrarian content—these intelligence sources are in contradiction to their own government’s line.
The Russians have revealed their information
Parry is not the only source of another narrative, however. Unlike the Obama and Kiev administrations, which have released no hard evidence of the events of July 17th, the Russians have revealed lots of it. Four days after the crash of MH-17, the Russian military held a press conference at which most global media outlets were in attendance. The Russian military spokesman, Lieutenant General Igor Makushev, presented key evidence, and questions for the Ukraine and U.S. The Russians said that the while the U.S. had a spy satellite directly over Ukraine at the time of the shoot-down, no evidence has been forthcoming from Washington as to a rocket fired from rebel areas, including no images of a Russian Buk system being moved in or out of Ukraine. Russian satellite images, furthermore, revealed that Ukraine moved Buk missile launchers (it’s known that Ukraine had these) just prior to July 17th, to sites around Luhansk and Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine, where it’s unclear what military use they would have there considering the rebels’ total lack of air power.
The Russians also revealed evidence that MH-17 was diverted by 14 kilometers from its original flight path, and told to fly lower than its designated 35,000 feet, by Ukrainian air traffic control. This path that took it to the north, directly over the contested rebel area around Luhansk and Donetsk, as well as lower (to make it an easier target?) Why this move? And why hadn’t Ukraine closed this air space to traffic following the recent shoot-down by rebels of a Ukrainian military cargo plane? But perhaps most critically, Russian radar images picked up a Ukrainian fighter jet, which followed the Malaysian aircraft and picked up speed before its final moments. The Russians have handed all this information over to European authorities. What does this tell us? (The Wall Street Journal was alone of U.S. major media to cover this press conference. See Mike Whitney, “The Second Aircraft, Was Malaysia Flight 17 Shot Down?” Counterpunch, August 6, 2014.)
Evidence from the
A Ukrainian/Canadian monitor, Michael Bociurkiw, working for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was among the first investigators to get to the “still smoldering” site of the crash. He was interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on July 31st. “There have been two or three pieces of fuselage that have been really pockmarked,” said Bociurkiw, “it almost looks like machine gun fire—very, very strong machine gun fire—that has left these unique marks that we haven’t seen anywhere else. We’ve also been asked, for example, have we seen any examples of missile [evidence], well no we haven’t; that’s the answer…” Photographs of the pock-marked fuselage bits were displayed during the interview.1
German pilot and investigative reporter Peter Haisenko observed the evidence and confirmed the OSCE investigator’s report of machine gun bullet holes. “The facts speak clear and loud and are beyond the realm of speculation: The cockpit shows traces of shelling! You can see the entry and exit holes. The edge of a portion of the holes is bent inwards. These are the smaller holes, round and clean, showing the entry points most likely that of a 30 millimeter caliber projectile.” (The Ukrainian SU-25 fighter plane carries 30 mm machine guns.)
Bullet holes aimed at the cockpit
“The edge of the other, the larger and slightly frayed exit holes show[ed] shreds of metal pointing produced by the same caliber projectiles,” said Haisenko. “Moreover, it is evident that … these exit holes of the outer layer of the double aluminum reinforced structure are shredded or bent—outwardly!... This leaves the examiner with an important clue. This aircraft was not hit by a missile in the central portion. The destruction is limited to the cockpit area.”
Hasienko made it clear that it was the cockpit that was specifically targeted, not the rest of the aircraft. Since entry and exit holes are seen on both sides of the cockpit, there had to have been two fighters firing directly at the cockpit from two sides of the plane. And the specific targeting of the pilot’s area precluded an analysis of shrapnel from a ground-based missile, which would have affected the whole body of the plane, not just the cockpit, and would not have produced entry and exit holes on two sides of the plane.
Hasienko also clarified two important points. First, the Ukrainian SU-25 fighter plane could have attained an altitude of over 30,000 feet, despite some wrong information about its capacities on the Internet. And secondly, the anti-tank shells and “dum-dums” that compose the ammunition for the SU’s guns are designed to explode or splinter on impact, and could have raised the pressure inside the cabin to cause the plane to blow apart “like a balloon.” This explains how the largely intact tailpieces could have separated, breaking at their weakest points.2
An important witness:
“two fighter jets”
While there are no eye witnesses to confirm that a ground missile was fired that day—a telling point, since such firings are hard to miss in day time by anyone in the area—there is an important witness from inside the Ukrainian air traffic control (ATC) system. A Spanish citizen named “Carlos” working in Kiev as an air traffic controller, reported within moments of the incident, that “two fighter jets flew very close to the plane” just before its destruction. Right after the shoot-down, military took over the ATC center, accompanied by foreign advisors (Americans perhaps?) Carlos was taken off duty, along with other ATC operatives of foreign extraction.
While all this was happening, Carlos fired off some very hasty tweets. Apparently fearing what the military might do to him, he reported that this was no accident, and the Ukrainian military was behind this shoot down: “Warning! Kiev have what they wanted,” “Kiev responsible,” and “Kiev authorities trying to make looks like an attack by pro-Russian.”
He also said, “They will take from our phones and others stuff at any moment.” The ATC-to-cockpit tapes were seized by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) immediately after the event, and haven’t been seen since. About an hour later Carlos tweeted, “Malaysia Airlines B777 [i.e., a Boeing 777] just disappeared and Kiev military authority informed us of the downing [which they claimed was from a missile]. How they knew?” Carlos even fingered the “interior minister” as the official who knew what the fighter planes were doing, but that the defense minister did not.3
Getting back to the Washington/Kiev cover story about the shoot down, what about the audiotape in which rebel fighters in Eastern Ukraine allegedly bragged at having shot down MH-17? Was this an accidental hit on a civilian airliner that the rebels thought was a Ukrainian military cargo transport, an AN-26? It’s known that the separatists have shot down at least one of these, as well as some Ukrainian fighter planes. Let’s get one thing out of the way first. The rebels don’t really possess any surface-to-air (SAM) missiles capable of bringing down a jet airliner flying at over 30,000 feet. The U.S. and its media virtually admit this: the rebels’ lack of capacity is one reason they had to invent the phony tale of the Russians supplying the Buk system, and then hastily sending it back to Russia (the other reason of course is that they wanted to get Putin in on the blame).
A tape that was faked
So, if the rebels didn’t possess SAMs, how are they shooting down Ukrainian fighters and cargo transports? The answer is fairly simple: these aircraft fly at lower altitudes. The Antonov (AN)-26 is an older propeller-driven plane, manufactured in the USSR between 1969 and 1986. It can only fly as high as 7500 meters, which is 24,600 feet. And it’s slow, maxing out at only 237 knots, or 273 miles-per-hour. And the fighter plane can only reach over 30,000 feet if the pilot is equipped with an oxygen mask—another aspect that shows advance planning on the part of the Ukrainian military in order to shoot down MH-17. Normally, Ukrainian fighters looking for targets on the ground (the rebels don’t possess aircraft to shoot at) would be considerably lower than that. The rebels do have rocket batteries that can reach these lower altitudes.
The main problem with the tape, however, is that it was a fake. According to a panel of experts who analyzed the tape, the recording “is not an integral file, and is made up of several fragments.” The first of three fragments mentions the town of Yenakiyevo, which is too far away from where MH-17 crashed to be credible. The second segment, presented as one piece, “was cut into pieces and then assembled...the audio file has preserved time marks which show that the dialog was assembled from various episodes.” More than that, these experts concluded that, “the audio tape was created almost a day before the airliner crash.” And, “...linguistic analysis also shows that those who made the faked tape clearly didn’t have enough material and time,” which is why “speech fragments can hardly correlate with each other in terms of their sense, and the spectral picture of audio materials...”4
What actually happened
to flight MH-17?
While some of this is necessarily speculative, I think the following scenario is the most reasonable, given the known facts. First, this operation was planned in advance by a handful of top Ukrainian military, SBU and probably CIA operatives, and timed to take place just before Ukraine launched a massive three-pronged attack on separatists in Luhansk and Donetsk. The attack on the airliner, blamed immediately on the separatists, pumped up morale in the Ukrainian army, and also had the effect of blocking most international inspectors from accessing the site for days. The movement of the three Buk missile batteries into Eastern Ukraine was part of the plan (although they weren’t used, and removed the next day).
On the day of the attack, two fighter jets were deployed to follow the targeted Malaysian Boeing. Three minutes before the plane disappeared from radar, it made a sharp, 180 degree left turn. The analysis of retired Russian Air Force colonel Aleksand Zhilin has an explanation. About one minute before the left turn, one of the fighters launched one of its air-to-air missiles at the aircraft, which damaged the right engine. Hit but not brought down, the plane entered the sharp left turn. Whether this was because of the damage, or as an evasive maneuver will not be known until the plane’s black box recording is revealed, if it ever is. Since the new trajectory of the target threatened to take it out of the area in which the perpetrators wanted the plane to be found, something had to be done. (The separatist controlled area was actually quite small at this time.) It must have been at that point that the fighters were ordered to bring the plane down by killing the pilot and destroying the cockpit with gunfire.5
False flag operation—who was behind it?
The downing of the MH-17 airliner is looking convincingly to be a “false flag” operation, conducted by elements in the Ukraine military, under the “guidance” of U.S./CIA operatives and advisors, in order to blame the separatists and ramp-up the Ukrainian and European opposition to Russia. But who would have been the actual perpetrators? Carlos, the air traffic controller on the inside in Kiev, said that the defense minister didn’t know what was going on, but the interior minister did. The defense minister in the original coup-regime cabinet under U.S.-picked Prime Minister Yatsenuyuk was Ihor Tenyukh, a pro-NATO naval commander and fascist Svoboda member. But he was replaced prior to the MH-17 shoot down. The interior minister is Arsen Avakov, of the “Our Ukraine” and Fatherland parties, which are both right-wing nationalist, though not outright fascist.
However, Carlos said that both the interior minister and the defense minster had military units under their control. This leads me to think that by “interior minister,” Carlos may have been referring to Andriy Parubiy, the head of the National Security and Defense Council. Parubiy was a leader of the U.S.-backed “Orange Revolution” in 2004, was a co-founder of the fascist Svoboda party, and a leader of the masked Right Sektor fascist thugs in the Maidan earlier this year. His Deputy NSC chief is also a Right Sektor thug, and both have been in parliament for years. These were the neo-Nazis who spearheaded the overthrow of the somewhat pro-Russian government of Yanukovich (who refused the EU’s “offer” of austerity in favor of a Russian loan), and paved the way for the U.S.-initiated coup government of Yatsenyuk.
Neo-Nazi cretins crawl out of graves, 1991
Perhaps more important is to recognize that Ukrainian fascists have deep roots in Ukrainian governing circles. They emerged from their political tombs immediately as the Soviet Union collapsed in the counterrevolution in 1990-91. They are the heirs of nationalist “heroes” such as Stepan Bandera, whose supporters allied with the German occupiers during World War II, participated in the genocide of Poles and Jews, and fought against the Red Army liberators. Their people went on to lead the CIA-linked “democratic” underground opposition to the Soviet regime in the post-war era. With their re-emergence in 1991, these living-dead reactionaries played significant roles in Ukrainian politics. Current President “chocolate king” Poroshenko has no objection to working with this fascist scum.
If one has to assign ultimate blame for the murderous MH-17 shoot-down, I’d say the fascists, such as Andriy Parubiy and company, who have imbedded themselves into the Ukraine government, are first in the docket. Their visceral hatred of Russians and Poles—the medieval occupiers of major parts of Ukraine for centuries—almost outweighs their anti-Semitism. This reflects a long-standing sense of victimhood in Ukrainian nationalist circles, just as German Nazis played on the felt-victimization of Germans after World War I, and Israelis today legitimize their noxious “death to Arabs” attacks against Gaza on the basis of the genocide committed against them by the Nazis. Nationalism comes full circle, from victim to oppressor, in Ukraine and in many other places and instances.
The fascist elements, with at least seven cabinet seats in the Yatsenyuk coup-government cabinet, and Fatherland allies in close proximity politically, had the opportunity, ability and murderous intent, as well as the U.S. expert advisors in false-flag operations, to pull off this horrendous slaughter that was the downing of MH-17.
Fascists spearhead Ukraine’s assault on East
The fascist militias that have sprung to life after 1991 and during the Maidan protests are now the spearhead of the Ukrainian military advance against the East. These thugs of the Maidan now compose the most aggressive units of the Ukrainian army, in the National Guard. They are the ones who advance into rebel held areas after the regular army bombards them with artillery; they are the ones whose motive is to kill Russians, and to make an “ethnically pure” Ukraine. And they are the ones who have benefitted most from the successful false-flag shoot-down of MH-17, as morale is up and desertion down in the Ukraine army.
Much of the evidence discussed here comes from Russian or pro-Russian sources, that’s true. Russia is a capitalist/imperialist power with a huge horse in this race: that of saving the last, and most important of its connections to the border lands built by the Czarist empire, and to the territories in Eastern Europe liberated by the Russian Revolution of 1917 (Eastern Ukraine), and liberated from the Nazis by the Red Army in World War II. Putin’s Russia has no connection, of course, to the workers state (and later the degenerated workers state) that was the USSR. As an ambitious, if not an outright pro-Czarist autocrat, Putin has just about the slightest connection to bourgeois democracy imaginable. However...
The U.S. (under Obama and predecessors) is the dominant imperialist power since World War II, and no different from Russia in class terms. But the U.S. is clearly the aggressor here; and capturing the Ukraine, with its ancient ties to Russia going back centuries, is a delicious plumb for U.S. imperialism’s drive to weaken, surround with NATO allies, and possibly even break up its Russian Federation rival. This does not mean that Marxists would support Russia against the U.S. in any direct military confrontation, which is definitely one danger that the Ukraine Crisis poses. But it does require us to look carefully at the current standoff over MH-17.
For a workers’ socialist Ukraine
Why is it that the Russians are the ones releasing most of the relevant evidence, while Kiev/U.S. is hiding evidence or making it up? The Russians have been forthcoming in releasing their relevant material, but the Kiev/U.S. lash-up can’t even release the ATC-cockpit tapes from July 17th, or U.S. satellite images, which we know they have. The evidence from the Spanish air traffic controller, from the OSCE investigator and the German pilot, as well as the radar and satellite evidence from Russia, is too much to have all been faked. My conclusion: this was a false flag operation, designed to stiffen Kiev’s assault on the separatists and Europe’s sanctions against Russia; and build popular support for the U.S. drive to absorb Ukraine into NATO and the U.S. banks’/EU austerity program.
The U.S. is a past master of the “false flag” operation, with which imperialists attempt to coerce popular support and undermine enemies through a devised atrocity, which is blamed on the opponent of the day. Although not exactly a U.S. operation, the Tonkin Gulf incident, which feigned a North Vietnamese attack on a U.S. naval vessel, served the same purpose. Operation Northwoods, in which the downing of an airliner was to be blamed on Fidel Castro’s Cuba, is another example (which thankfully was never implemented).
Marxists support the right of self-determination, for autonomy, separation or joining Russia, for the ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking peoples of Crimea, and the southern and eastern areas of Ukraine, from Odessa to Donetsk. This comes without the slightest political support to the reactionary leaderships of the so-called “Peoples Republics” in Luhansk and Donetsk. But most important, the working people of Ukraine must fight together against the fascist-infested government in Ukraine, and the U.S./NATO/EU domination, which looms over the people with its threat of austerity and misery; and for a workers’ socialist Ukraine.
3 Spelling and grammatical errors in original. The complete set of 38 tweets, together with source information and identity of the Spanish translator, are at: http://slavyangrad.org/2014/07/18/spanish-air-controller-kiev-borispol-airport-ukraine-military-shot-down-boeing-mh17/
4 “Kiev’s Evidence of Militia’s Responsibility for Airliner Crash faked—Expert” published by Itar-Tass on July 20th: http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/741521
5 The opinions of the Russian colonel are reported in “MH17 Verdict: Real Evidence points to US-Kiev Cover-up of Failed ‘False Flag’” at http://21stcenturywire.com/2014/07/25/mh17-verdict-real-evidence-points-to-us-kiev-cover-up-of-failed-false-flag-attack/