The proposed UN-backed MH17 tribunal is a “desperate attempt to hide Kiev’s responsibility”, Dutch journalist and blogger Joost Niemoller argues in his post “How Chess Player Putin Wins the MH17 Game”.
Niemoller is no layman. In October 2014 he published a book on the MH17 disaster whose title De Doofpotdeal (“The Cover Up Deal”) summarizes its key argument. The inside flap explains what the author means:
“The Netherlands took charge of the investigation into the cause of the disaster, but agreed to grant a covert deal to Kiev.
It thus became a pawn in an international political chess game. Unvarnished Cold War rhetoric is making a comeback.
Putin here is the ultimate bad guy. What he says is labeled as poisonous propaganda in the West. Meanwhile, it seems, all those concerned suffer from tunnel vision.
Can we still be assured that the investigators do their work independently and objectively?”
In his piece, Niemoller laments the shortcomings of the Dutch Safety Board, the body charged with conducting the investigations on the MH17 disaster. The ever-postponed deadline – the final report might be released at the end of the year, hence one and a half years after the crash, but that too is still uncertain – he finds perplexing:
“When the co-operating countries, the JIT (Joint Investigation Team), intend to complete their probe, is not known. Then, something gets leaked to the press: ‘At the end of this year’. With which legal framework? It is not yet known. Under which conditions? No idea. How will the co-operation between the Ukrainian, the JIT and Dutch Safety Board unfold?”
“Everything is vague and secret. That is not the way it should be for such an important study.”
Niemoller contrasts this with the approach taken by Moscow:
“Russia proposed last year to conduct an international study based on research carried out by the UN – and not by means of a secret deal of countries, where one of the possible culprits, namely Ukraine, has veto power.”
Niemoller, a Dutchman, laments the dubious role of his country, especially when considering that it was the one affected most by the MH17 tragedy: 193 of the 298 victims were Dutch. And yet, Niemoller says:
“What we know for sure is that the Netherlands from day zero intensely cooperates with Kiev. What we know is that the Russians are kept out and that there is a blame game played against Putin.”
Now Niemoller focuses his attention on the role Russia is about to play. He argues that Moscow holds all the cards, and that Kiev & co apparently hold none:
“When the Russians said that if a BUK had been fired by the separatists, they would have certainly seen it on their radar, the Russians indicated that they know much more”.
“After a year, there is still no evidence of that alleged separatist Buk on the table. Kindergarten-level work from Bellingcat has been dismissed. And there was no ‘Buk-track’ through the Donbas region.”
Niemoller points out that Russia is not going to passively accept any result the Dutch Safety Board comes up with, especially if not backed with evidence. He reminds that Russia has set up its own body, ready to refute any unfounded allegations against the separatists militias the JIT might bring forward:
“The investigation Russia’s own Research Council is conducting will be a catastrophe for the Ukrainian and Dutch Safety Board”
Nor is Washington in a less awkward position:
“The Americans are silent about possible Russian involvement. Even US hawk Victoria Nuland used very cautious language about MH17 during a recent press conference in Kiev. She showed she really has nothing more to say about it.”
But it might get even more embarrassing for the US and its closest ally:
“Meanwhile, an anonymous Russian report has appeared, suggesting that the Boeing flight MH17 might have been shot with super modern Israeli missiles. There is confirmation coming from an ex-CIA agent to a Ukrainian/Israeli oligarch on the availability to Ukraine of modern Israeli weaponry”.
“The same ex-CIA agent added that the US policy, which is to blame for bringing down MH17, wants to push it away from the US, and will focus on local causes.”
According to Niemoller, “This is a very sophisticated game, but Russia can wait”.
What this proposed, UN-backed MH17 tribunal boils down to is thus quite prosaic.
“Faces should be saved. American faces especially. The Americans lost any initiative in diplomatic relations. It is the Russians who repeatedly state that they have an information advantage.”
The UN Security Council voting session on proposed tribunal to investigate last year’s Malaysia Airlines MH17 passenger plane crash in Ukraine is expected to be held next Wednesday. Russia, which has veto power, is expected to reject the initiative.