Appeasement reigns: Europe is failing to meet Russia's test

Following weeks of investigation, the Dutch Safety Board published a report on the July 17 downing of a civilian airliner over Ukraine in which nearly 300 primarily Western European citizens were killed.


The report found that the flight recorder data onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 found no technical problems with the aircraft prior to the end of the recording. Moreover, the agency found that the Russian claim that MH17 was diverted to a lower altitude by Ukrainian air traffic controllers, which purportedly put the aircraft at risk while flying over eastern Ukraine, was unsupported. The closest aircraft to MH17 at the time of its catastrophic destruction was 30 kilometers away, again disputing the suggestions by pro-Russian voices that Ukrainian military aircraft were tailing MH17.

The report also published images of the pockmarked fuselage. “Noting that the investigation team has not yet had the opportunity to recover these components for forensic examination, photographs from the wreckage indicate that the material around the holes was deformed in a manner consistent with being punctured by high-energy objects,” the agency’s findings read. “The characteristics of the material deformation around the puncture holes appear to indicate that the objects originated from outside the fuselage.”

In conjunction with reports which indicated that the distribution of pieces of that aircraft across a large area, the evidence suggests that the aircraft was hit by a fragmentation weapon at altitude.

In short, it seems clear that pro-Russian rebels using Russian hardware were responsible for the destruction of MH17. But the report does not say that. In fact, the report goes out of its way to avoid assigning blame for this incident. To do so would be provocative. Instead, the downing of MH17 is treated in this account as though it were an act of God.


The unwillingness to call Russian aggression out for what it is can be generously considered odd, but the Western European instinct to appease an aggressor state is too familiar to be honestly considered a bizarre deviation from past behavior patterns.

Meanwhile, the much ballyhooed ceasefire in Ukraine between “rebel” factions and forces loyal to Kiev is not holding. Though, you would not know that from the Western media coverage of the conflict which has all but disappeared.

The Daily Telegraph’s Roland Oliphant reporting from the rebel-held town of Makeyevka, east of Donetsk, indicated that the artillery is again flying.

His dispatch was confirmed by The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Sonne:

But, like the downing of MH17, to suggest that the ceasefire is not holding would be to acknowledge that the armistice is in jeopardy. We cannot have that. Far better to sacrifice the truth, and the dignity of those killed by a Russian missile on July 17, in service to the noble goal of securing peace in our time.


Sooner rather than later, however, Russia’s intentions are likely to become too overt for the West to ignore no matter how hard they seek to avoid confronting them.

“On Tuesday September 9, there was no shelling near Mariupol, however reconnaissance teams report that Russian troops are drawing forces as well as armoured vehicles and Grads up to the outskirts of the city,” read a report in a Ukrainian publication translated by reporters with The Interpreter Magazine.

As TSN’s correspondent reported, no-one in Mariupol believes in the ceasefire, everyone is preparing for an assault. Trenches are being dug around the city.

A large forces of Ukrainian soldiers has been concentrated around Mariupol for the defence of the city.

here is not yet any precise information on the numbers of enemy forces concentrated around Mariupol. However, there have been reports of at least two tank regiments from the Russian army, which actively participated in the recent shelling of the city. At the attack sites, where ATO soldiers held their defences, are left only burnt out plots of forest. The fires haven’t been put out and smoke from the plantations still rises from some sites.

Meanwhile, the European Union finally crafted consensus on a new round of sanctions, the only arrow in the West’s quiver, directed toward Moscow. Those sanctions will not go into effect, though, until Europe has become convinced that the failing ceasefire has failed.


“Eventually these measures may together force Mr Putin to rethink his recklessness, or encourage the Russian people and elite to think differently about him,” a resigned editorial in this weekend’s Economist read. “There will be a price for the West too, of course. But as poor, benighted Ukraine shows, the price of inaction has always been higher.”

It is, evidently, a price the West is prepared to pay. There is no stomach to confront Vladimir Putin’s militarism in Europe. By the time such fortitude materializes, the price the West will pay in necessarily confronting him will be far higher than it is today.

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