Vladimir Putin has ignored Western demands that he cease arming and supporting pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. As such, he shares responsibility for the shooting down of MH17. It is now time for Europe to take tough action.
The Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site is a nightmare, with body parts still lying among the sunflowers. Fully 298 people were murdered here while the entire world became witness to marauding bandits in uniform robbing the dead and taking their dignity in the process.
Here, in the eastern Ukrainian steppe, Vladimir Putin has shown his true face. Once seen as a statesman, the Russian president has exposed himself as a pariah of the international community. The MH17 dead are also his; he is partially responsible for the shooting down of the flight. And now, the moment has come to force him to back down — with severe economic sanctions.
Nobody in the West continues to harbor serious doubts that the plane was shot down with a Buk surface-to-air missile system — one that was almost certainly provided to the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine by Russia. One separatist leader even admitted that they possessed such a system — and the evidence is substantial.
It may be that the shooting down of MH17 was a tragic error. The fighter who launched the missile didn’t likely intend to shoot down a commercial aircraft. Still, the incident is the direct consequence of the recent weeks Russia has spent arming the separatists. It is a symbol of Putin’s depravity — and for the failure of Western policy thus far. The wreckage of MH17 is also the wreckage of diplomacy.
While the West initially imposed but mild sanctions and demanded a policy of de-escalation, Putin repeatedly escalated the conflict while vociferously proclaiming his irreproachability. He continually insisted that he wasn’t behind the separatists. This web of lies, propaganda and deceit has now been exposed.