Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
I've been doing these Sitreps for 14 years; I have never done a special before. But I have never felt that we were close to war before either. To go to war is bad enough, but to go to war over lies...
RUSSIAN MILITARY BRIEFING. The key points are 1. There was a Ukrainian fighter plane at the same altitude and 3-5 kilometres away from MH17; the radar traces are shown. It stayed on station as the Boeing was shot down; the radar traces are shown. 2. Ukrainian Buk air defence systems were in range; satellite pictures are shown. 3. The film supposedly showing a Russian Buk TEL being taken back to Russia was in fact taken in a city under Kiev's control as is proven by a background billboard. 4. The US was watching and the device doing the watching is named. The original full briefing; RT summary; another summary. Your local media outlet probably hasn't even mentioned it.
WASHINGTON AND KIEV REACTION. The Russian briefing was on Monday apparently about 1600 Moscow time; plenty of time for the USA to reveal its own radar tracks, satellite pictures and intercepts contradicting the Russian evidence. So far nothing. We have selections from social media. (This "social media” evidence doesn’t make State’s cut. Nothing either about the Spanish air traffic controller. Who may or may not exist; but that’s the thing about tweets and twitters isn’t it? Some of it’s real and some of it isn’t. Selective.) And bluster: "I would say that we are not two credible – equally credible parties...” (State Department, Monday). Well, maybe there is no direct link to Moscow, after all ("senior US intelligence officials”, Tuesday). This AP report of the US intelligence briefing is worth reading carefully. "Offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement” "cautious” "no direct evidence” "likely” "did not know” "not certain” and so on. This is the best the multi-billion dollar US intelligence industry can produce? Social media and "we don't know a name, we don't know a rank and we're not even 100 percent sure of a nationality”? The only significance of this piffle is that it suggests the US intelligence community wants to distance itself from State and the White House but isn't prepared to come right out and say they are lying. Where are the US radar tracks, satellite photographs and comms intercepts? (well, a photo of Rostov, but what’s that got to do with MH17?) Nor the air traffic control recordings from Ukraine (taken by the security services says the BBC; go to 15:29).
WHAT ELSE? Moscow waited through four days of "Putin killed my son” "There’s a buildup of extraordinary circumstantial evidence” and otherwise watched the hole dug deeper before dropping its bombshell. What other information is Moscow sitting on? The complete flightpath of the Ukrainian fighter? Missile launch information? Missile tracks? Recordings from the MH17 pilot? Recordings from Ukrainian or Polish air traffic controllers telling him to fly over the fighting? They have to be wondering in Washington and Kiev.
RUMOURS. Was MH17 shot down by an air-to-air missile? Here’s an argument: note that the deduced position of the shooting aircraft is consistent with the radar data. Or was a missile fired from a Kiev position? The two are not exclusive. By the way, the Buk leaves a huge contrail behind it; why no films?
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME A CIVILIAN AIRCRAFT WAS SHOT DOWN BY MILITARY FORCES? Answer.
MORE LIES. Site looting; grave robbers and ghouls; evidence tampering: all lies. Bottom line: little to no looting (this video is a perfect example of how your media is manipulating you); bodies respectfully treated; black boxes handed over to Malaysian authorities.
CREDIBILITY. On 30 August 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry said "We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods.” This was false. His predecessor implied Qaddafi was using cluster bombs against his own people when, in fact, he wasn’t. The same people and news media so certain then are equally certain today.
CUI BONO? Certainly not the rebels and certainly not Moscow. But what about changing the subject? Winding up the anti-Russia siren? Getting Europe to impose sanctions? Tightening up the NATO alliance? Passing theRussia Aggression Prevention Act? You decide.
MEANS, MOTIVE, OPPORTUNITY. Things to keep in mind when trying to solve a mystery.