Staunton, July 21 – Major acts of betrayal like selling out Ukraine or calling into question American responsibilities to its NATO allies are not the only signs of a more insidious process that is now at work in Washington: a willingness to back away from anything that the Putin regime doesn’t like.
That happened this week when the US Department of State removed from its website a report on the downing of the Malaysian passenger liner that included a condemnation of Russia for its role in that horrific event. Not surprisingly, Moscow is pleased, especially because it is linking this act to the recent Helsinki summit.
Picking up on the US publication, Business Insider, Moscow’s Izvestiya reported that the Department had removed the post it had prepared on the shooting down of the plane “after the meeting of Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump in Helsinki” (iz.ru/769144/2018-07-20/gosdep-ssha-udalil-zaiavlenie-po-mh17-posle-vstrechi-putina-i-trampa).
It notes that “journalists had found in the cached version of the website of the US embassy in Moscow this document which for a certain time appeared on the main page of the diplomatic representation but then disappeared” (businessinsider.com/state-department-deletes-statement-criticizing-russia-over-mh17-attack-trump-putin-2018-7).
The version that was taken down said, Business Insider reported and Izvestiya repeated, that “four years after the destruction of the MH17 the world still is waiting for Russia’s recognition of its role.” Queried about this, the State Department’s press office refused to comment saying only that “the US position on the catastrophe has not changed.”
But words matter. Taking down a post which says as all independent investigators have found that Russia was behind this act of state terrorism represents a serious act of betrayal not only of Ukraine but of the truth. Perhaps even more ominously, it shows just how far down into American officialdom Trump’s deference to what Putin wants has penetrated.
While the Izvestiya report cast itself as straight news, its appearance provides clear evidence that the Kremlin is thrilled by this further piece of evidence of just how far some in Washington are now prepared to go not to offend Putin but rather carry water for him. He will certainly read it as another indication that at least for now, he can continue to push.
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