There is rampant speculation about what happened to the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 that went down over the Ukraine on Thursday. Did it crash on its own? Was it the same issue that brought down the now near-mythical Flight 370? Was it shot down? If so, who did it?
The Ukranian rebels insist they didn’t do it. In fact, they claim they couldn’t have done it since they don’t have any anti-aircraft that can reach the altitude a commercial airplane flies at.
The Ukranian government, on the other hand, claims that the rebels have a Russian made AA system called BUK capable of reaching 72,000 feet. The downed airplane was flying at 33,000 feet when contact was lost.
Since the wreckage appears to have landed in heavily disputed Donetsk, how the Russians and Ukrainian rebels respond will be extremely informative. The difference between a plane that crashed and one that was shot down is unmistakable to investigators. And that’s aside from if the Black Box is recovered. If outside agencies are allowed full access, it’s a safe assumption that there is nothing to hide.
If, however, the rebels refuse to allow anyone to inspect the site, or worse, the Russians step in and lock the site down, it would look very much like the truth would be extremely damaging to the rebel’s cause and extremely embarrassing to Russia for providing the weapon allegedly used.
Should it turn out that the plane was actually shot down, even by accident, by the rebels, this will be marked escalation of the violence Russia has been encouraging in the region. Coming on the heels of dramatically increased US sanctions against Russia for their agitation, the European Union may decide to rethink their less severe approach and join the United States in enacting far more punitive sanctions of their own.