The tragedy of Malaysian Airlines flight 17


As most of you have probably already heard, a single, shocking event involving both Malaysian airlines and the war in Ukraine has molded the two together.  On Thursday, the Boeing 777 airliner, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lampur, was shot down by what is believed to be a surface-to-air missile (according to U.S. intelligence) in Pro-Russian rebel held territory in eastern Ukraine, close to the town of Grabove, only 25 miles from the Ukraine-Russian border.  Thankfully, the plane didn’t crash in a very populated area or kill any civilians, but everyone onboard the plane, all 298 people, including the crew and passengers, died.  Some of the locals who witnessed the explosion say they saw debris from the plane, along with bodies, falling from the sky.

You might be asking: Yet another incident involving Malaysian Airlines?  Assuming you remember the story of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.  Instead of going to its destination of Beijing, the airliner went off course into the Indian Ocean.  Mainstream media covered the event for months, especially CNN, who practically covered it 24/7 for a few months, ignoring all other news.  As you could suspect, CNN is covering the story on flight 17 none stop as well.  Considering how that flight (MH370) went off course and crashed because of the pilot, one would likely assume that perhaps Malaysian Airlines doesn’t have good pilots, and that this event is in fault of the pilot for flying over a war zone. This is not the case.  The plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet, which is allowed by air-traffic control, and it was flying its usual route.  In fact, it was traveling on a route usually used by commercial airliners.  So it in’t Malaysian Airlines’ fault, it’s just that this plane happened to be at the wrong place, at the wrong time.  It could’ve been any plane from any airline, really.

Believe it or not, it still isn’t even known who shot down the plane, the Ukrainian Army or the Pro-Russian separatists.  Neither side will take responsibility for the incident, but of course, you can’t blame them.  Who would want to take responsibility for a tragedy like this?  No one, unless you’re a terrorist who just wants to see innocent people die.  This is exactly why both sides are blaming the other.  The Ukrainians are blaming the separatists.  The press secretary of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko,  Svatoslav Tsegolko, made this statement for the President, when asked about the event.

“Poroshenko thinks this of the plane that was brought down: it is not an incident, not a catastrophe, but a terrorist act.”

What a minute, but an incident is a violent event, which is this story of the plane.  And a catastrophe is a disaster, which could also be applied to this event as well.  So really, it is both an incident and a catastrophe.  But never mind the phrasing of Poroshenko’s press secretary, what matters is what Poroshenko thinks and how he will handle it.

Poroshenko’s Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin said that he gives his condolences to the families of the victims, but also stated that if Kiev’s government never started its military campaign against the separatists in eastern Ukraine, than the whole plane disaster never would’ve happened.  With both Ukraine and Russia blaming each other, this will surely complicate the international investigation on the attack, which both governments have volunteered to contribute to, along with the U.S. and Malaysia.

70th anniversary of the Allied landings on D-Day

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (left).

The whole discussion on who committed the attack has been a large and fiery debate on the internet over the last two days.  Overall, most seem to believe that it is the Russian separatists who are to blame.  It is known that both the Ukrainian army and Russian army posses the Buk missile system, a family of surface-to-air missile systems first developed by the Soviet Union in 1979.  A buk launcher can fire a missile up to an altitude of 72,000 feet.  With the airliner flying at 33,000, a missile launched from the Buk could easily hit and destroy the plane.  So how does this tell us that the separatists fired the missiles that shot down the plane?  Well, the rebels have bragged to have shot down planes before.  The most famous before the incident involving flight MH17 was when the rebels shot down a Ukraine military transport plane on Monday.  According to the Associated Press, rebels claimed to have shot down two Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 jets on Wednesday July 16th, the day before the airliner was shot down.  But how could’ve these rebels have shot down the jets if they don’t have surface-to-air missile systems? It’s been reported that these rebels don’t have efficient equipment. They couldn’t have, unless the Russian military armed them with Buk missile launchers, and now the rebels are making good use of them.

It still isn’t known and will probably be a while until we know for sure who is behind this incident.  I personally believe that it was the Pro-Russian rebels.  They’re not an organized army full of officials who give orders, unlike the Ukrainian Army.  They’re just groups of militiamen who aim their guns at any plane they suspect to be one belonging to the Ukrainians.  They have no civil order, which would explain why they would shoot down an airliner.  Whoever is responsible for the crash of the commercial airliner, this event is a harsh reminder to the world that the civil war in Ukraine is still very real, and very serious and it will receive much more attention from the international community due to this incident.

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