Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: Who's Responsible?

Friday, July 18, 2014

A picture taken on July 18, 2014 shows the wreckages of the Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur a day after it crashed in rebel-held east Ukraine. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty)

On Thursday, the world watched in shock as reports surfaced that a Malaysia Airlines flight with 298 people on board was shot down over eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. There were no survivors.

The tragedy brings back grim memories of passenger planes caught in the crosshairs of military conflicts. In 1983, Korean Airlines Flight 007 traveling from New York to Seoul was shot down by Soviet jets after mistakenly crossing into Soviet airspace at the height of the Cold War.

And in 1988, the USS Vincennes, a U.S. naval warship stationed in the Persian Gulf, took down an Iranian Airlines flight to Dubai after mistaking it for an F-14. The devastating error claimed 300 lives.

But this time things are less clear. Ukrainian officials are calling the crash an act of terrorism, and believe that the missile that took the plane down could have been launched with Russian involvement.

“If evidence emerges that Russia was involved that would obviously be extremely concerning," said Senate Intelligence Committee Chariman Dianne Feinstein speaking yesterday to reporters.

Many questions are still unanswered at this point. On the ground in Kiev is Andriy Kulykov, a Public Radio Ukraine correspondent. He explains what's happening in Ukraine's capital city, and how local citizens are reacting.

Conflicting reports have emerged about who is responsible for the destruction of MH17 and the lives of those on board, and whether it was even an error at all. David Sanger, a National Security Correspondent for our partner The New York Times, weighs in.


Andriy Kulykov and David Sanger

Produced by:

Ellen Frankman


T.J. Raphael

Comments [2]

"Lead from behind" Obama foreign policy? Prudence is often the best leadership, despite what Dick Cheney (who profited mightily from the no-bid contracts on Iraq) and his chickenhawks would say.
Malaysian Airlines made a mistake in thinking a surface-to-air missile would not reach the 33,000 feet; other air carriers operating non-stops between Europe and Southeast Asia avoided the airspace. Lufthansa is one such carrier.
That said, the Tweet of the separatist Ukrainian commander contemporaneous with the downing of this flight bragging about downing a Ukrainian military transport--and its subsequent taking down from Twitter--appears especially damning.
I'm old enough to remember my history of World War I and World War II. The Germans published a warning to passengers on the Lusitania in 1915 when war between Germany and Britain had been underway for months. Germany attacked Poland on September 1, 1939, and Poland's allies Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3. On September 4 a German U-boat torpedoed the British liner "Athenia" in the Atlantic.
Shooting down a civilian airliner of a neutral party is beneath contempt. Let's hope skilled attorneys--and the press--follow the money to allow the victims' families to get more than the measly international air passenger's limit of liability for wrongful death.

Jul. 18 2014 03:31 PM

The world dances closer and closer to WWIII under the "lead from behind" Obama foreign policy.

Jul. 18 2014 09:54 AM

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