Re: "The incessant vilification of Russia and Putin", Letters, August 6.
If ever there were any doubt about the shooting down of MH17, your correspondent HHB’s blatant propaganda has surely settled the matter. He mentions the previous downing of passenger aircraft by Israel and the United States, but conveniently forgets Korean Air Flight 007, which a Soviet fighter pilot dispatched in 1988. Moscow initially denied responsibility, then claimed the plane was on a spy mission or that America wanted to provoke World War III. As for the argument that President Putin was too busy last February organising the Winter Olympics to play any part in the Ukrainian crisis then unfolding, I almost wept.
The tragic reality is that all these civilian airliners were shot down through human error. It is more than likely that Ukrainian separatists armed with Russian-made technology attacked MH17. They might well have mistaken the passenger jet for another enemy military transport plane, having recently shot down two of those. It is not necessary to believe President Putin had a hand in this. Likely, he had no previous knowledge.
But the squirming by the Moscow media to blame the Kiev-based Ukrainian government is sickening. “Ukrainian jets shot down MH17 in the belief that president Putin was on board,” goes one line. “The plane was full of corpses anyway, who were taken from mortuaries before the flight set off from Amsterdam.” “Bullet holes in the fuselage show that no rocket was involved.”
If the black boxes and other forensic tests finally cast doubt on HHB’s claims, you can be assured that Russia and its various Lord Haw-Haws will continue to blame Kiev or Western murderers. The evidence has been tampered with, they will say. The international inquiry was one-sided. The Ukrainian separatists were denied a chance to present their case, etc. So much for ethics, morality and honesty.