The Dutch led report doesn’t really tell us anything much we couldn’t already work out but it does highlight some valid points.
That the missile was Russian is hardly news but the report does give us the make, However, while theoretically this might help trace who bought it, missiles have moved around so much that all parties can disclaim ownership and in any case the Russians are certainly capable of faking it. But since all three parties involved have Russian missiles this is not a smoking gun and the report makes it clear that both Russia and Ukraine have this type of missile.
The report does point the finger of blame at the government in Kiev for not closing the air space over the war zone. While the prime responsibility must remain with whoever shot down the plane, Kiev cannot escape censure for taking risks – presumably for the fees to be collected.
It is also hard to disagree with the observation that this must surely have been an accident. Nobody had anything to gain by shooting down a Malaysian airliner. The conspiracy theories floating around which blame one party or another for doing it deliberately cannot be taken seriously. The Ukrainian Government’s argument that it was a deliberate act by Russia suffers from the same lack of credence as the Russian claim that it was Ukraine that shot down the plane by air to air rockets. Both claims are propaganda pure and simple.
The report does not tell us who pushed the button or ordered it pushed. The Dutch criminal investigation taking place may or may not come up with evidence that would hold up in a court of law. No doubt everyone will continue to blame everyone else while the tabloids and shock jocks will show their customary preference for lurid rhetoric over evidence. Nevertheless, the prime suspect must be an incompetent rebel in separatist controlled territory who thought he was shooting down a Ukrainian warplane. Whether the hunt for the blood of that individual will ever bear fruit only time will tell. In the meantime, public statements by all the parties involved will be driven more by their political interests than by a concern for the truth.
Cavan Hogue was formerly Australian ambassador to USSR and to Russia.