Staunton, July 18 – Whatever the investigation determines is “the level of direct or indirect responsibility” for the shooting down of the Malaysian airline, Tatyana Stanovaya says, “the reputations of the country and of Vladimir Putin personally” have suffered a serious “hit,” yet another indication that “the price of geopolitical games” in this region is now “too high.”
In a comment entitled “A Reputation Catastrophe for Russia” on Politcom.ru today, Stanovaya acknowledges that Moscow and Putin will be held responsible by many around the world “regardless of the answers to the thousands of questions which are now being discussed in the social media” (politcom.ru/17863.html).
First of all, she points out, the Malaysian plane was shot down “over a zone of military actions which is not controlled by the Ukrainian government, where there exists a political-legal vacuum, and where the territory is divided among various armed groups, often in conflict with one another.”
Second, Stanovaya continues, the military capacity of the separatist groups “is supported by Russian military technology politically, in the information sphere, technically and with cadres.” “Whether Russia wants this or not, its policy is viewed as supportive” of the pro-Russian groups. No one in the West finds convincing Moscow’s claims to be a non-participant.
And third, she says, what happens next will “depend on the course of the investigation which in turn will depend entirely on access to the place” where the plane came down. Thus, “whoever was guilty in the launch of the rocket, now the key information is monopolized by the separatists whose activity is viewed as a function of Moscow’s wishes.”
That complicates matters for Moscow, Stanovaya says. For things to move forward, the separatists will have to agree among themselves on what to do; they will face the prospect that Kyiv will be able to use the situation to extend its control; and they will likely view the future as one in which Kyiv and the West rather than themselves and Moscow will have the initiative.
Given these circumstances, the Moscow analyst says, Moscow will certainly try to push for a ceasefire and to win time: “the tragedy will become an occasion for demanding an end to [the Ukrainian offensive] by returning to [the Kremlin’s] former scenario of supporting an extended and long-playing conflict.”
“The destruction of the plane in any case, has shown,” Stanovaya says, “that the conflict in Ukraine has gone too far.” Like many in Moscow and some in the West, she says that both Russia and the West bear responsibility for that outcome and that “the price of geopolitical games for influence in the region has become too high.”
That is certainly the kind of argument that Putin, his regime, and the pro-Moscow groups in southeastern Ukraine are likely to make in their efforts to avoid responsibility. It is unfortunately and tragically one that is already being echoed by some in the West who want to avoid holding Putin and his agents responsible.
But despite their efforts in this regard, the culpability direct or indirect of Putin and his regime for this crime are obvious to enough people, including quite obviously Stanovaya, who is exactly right to say that Putin’s reputation and that of the Russian Federation he heads have taken a serious hit.