On Monday, President Obama wondered aloud what pro-Russian separatists were “trying to hide” following the downing of a civilian jetliner in eastern Ukraine. On Tuesday, U.S. intelligence officials said it was their responsibility for the crash, which killed all 298 people on board.
The new intel concluded that separatists likely struck the plane down mistake. U.S. officials said they found no evidence of direct Russian government involvement in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
The Associated Press reports:
They say the passenger jet was likely felled by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and that Russia “created the conditions” for the downing by arming the separatists.
The officials likely mean that Russia “created the conditions” preceding the plane crash by fomenting civil unrest in eastern Ukraine, a region that has been locked in turmoil since Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimean peninsula in March. But a primary part of Russia’s support in the insurrection has come in the form of heavy-duty weapons, which could have included missiles such as the one that shot down MH17.
U.S. officials told the AP on Tuesday that they don’t know whether any Russians were present at the missile launch. They also would not say whether the separatists who pulled the trigger were trained in Russia.
One U.S. intelligence official told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that Russia has continued to supply separatists in eastern Ukraine with tanks and rocket launchers after last week’s crash. “We don’t think they have stopped,” the official said. “We think they continue to do it.”
At least for now, these Russian-generated “conditions” aren’t going away.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.