Over/under on when he walks to the podium is 11:15.
I’m intrigued by the setting for this one. A presser on the lawn instead of in the briefing room usually signals some semi-significant news.
Just In: Pres Obama to make a statement on latest situation in Ukraine. At 1050am on the South Lawn.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) July 21, 2014
My guess is he’s going to announce that U.S. intelligence now officially concurs with the judgment of everyone else in the world, that MH17 was brought down by Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine using a sophisticated missile supplied by Uncle Vladimir. How’d they learn to operate a system like that? Take one guess:
Indeed, Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove said in June the U.S. military’s intelligence was that rebels were being trained in tanks and anti-aircraft capability across the border, before heading back into eastern Ukraine to put it into practice.
According to IHS Jane’s Defense, a resource for intelligence and defense analysis, operating a Buk requires a trained crew. While the government of Ukraine also has Buk missile systems, Jane’s notes that the Ukrainian military has none of the systems in the region near the MH17 crash, as they were overtaken by pro-Russian separatists.
“The system is not a simple system to use. You need at least four to six months of training and ongoing training to operate it,” Ronald Bishop, a former U.S. Air Force missile expert, told Australia’s Warwick Daily News. “To fire this system you need to have highly-specialized military training.”
Was it really “rebels” who fired the BUK or was it actual Russian soldiers posing as Ukrainian separatists, as has been Putin’s M.O. since he made his move on Crimea? Presumably a fully equipped Russian military force would have been able to tell that MH17 was a passenger jet; a bunch of rebels, armed with BUKs but maybe not the radar needed to distinguish military planes from civilian ones, might not have. Hence the fatal mistake.
Incidentally, if you’re wondering why President Bankshot didn’t abort his burger run last week as soon as the plane went down and return immediately to the White House, here’s what one of his aides had to say:
“It is rarely a good idea to return to the White House just for show, when the situation can be handled responsibly from the road,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the White House communications director. “Abrupt changes to his schedule can have the unintended consequence of unduly alarming the American people or creating a false sense of crisis.”
Changing his schedule at the last minute might alarm Americans more than Russian proxies blowing passenger jets out of the sky, says Ron Fournier? That’s not a crisis?
While we wait, enjoy Ron Paul being even Ron-Paul-ier than usual about MH17.
Update: He showed up late as expected, said nothing about sanctions, and was gone in 10 minutes. The reviews are in:
An attack like this, a crisis like this, requires that a US POTUS speak with clarify about what's happened. That didn't happen. #ukraine
— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) July 21, 2014
What was the point of that press conference?
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) July 21, 2014