Russia has long ceased to conceal its participation in the conflict in and de facto occupation of Donbas. On the one hand, the old song is still being sung at the official level about "civil war" or "internal conflict", but it’s all quite different with public moves and statements.
One day it’s Vladimir Putin saying "we are compelled to protect" the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine, then it’s the Russian military authorities blocking access of Ukrainian inspectors to military facilities in Rostov region, from where the weapons and military equipment are supplied to Russian militants, that is, the Russian military disguised as such. This is all being spiced up with hysteria on Russian TV, where State Duma deputies and other officials who could hardly be called decision makers root for the occupied Donbas, calling the captured territories "historically Russian" land. For Russian citizens, the fact of Moscow’s control over parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions is anything but a secret, but the dodgiest ones stick to a traditional argument "Donbas is ours! Go try and prove otherwise…"
There is nothing to prove here though. This is what the Russian leadership has successfully been doing anyway. The Russian president publicly speculates over the topic of when the time will come when "Russia takes Donbas" and analyzes the situation in order to "make a timely decision."
In the flow of such statements, there is a point that will make the international community not only look closely at the aggressor state but also consider bringing it to justice.
Recently a documentary by Oliver Stone premiered in the U.S. - a series of interviews with Vladimir Putin. Conversations were recorded at different periods of time, but one of them, dated July 2015, is definitely worth attention. That was one year after the downing of the Malaysian Airlines passenger liner flight MH17.
Stone asks Putin about the MH17 crash. The Russian president traditionally blames the U.S. for all sins possible, claiming Washington doesn’t intend to disclose its intelligence data about the deadly attack, since the Kremlin "understands their position in Ukraine."
"All of them wanted to blame the Donbas militia and, indirectly, Russia, which supports the militia," Putin admitted back in 2015. He immediately adds that this would not have happened, "had the Ukrainian leadership listened to us and not started full-scale military operations."
Putin doesn’t lack logic. Really, Ukrainians ("one people with Russia as Moscow claims") didn’t wish to meet with flowers those incoming Russian tanks. He reproaches Ukraine that it has been proving with fire and sword (not without some success) to itself and the whole world its right to its own place under the sun.
Who could that be other than the Russian defense ministry who owns the Buk missile launcher, which shot down MH17?
However, a year later, in September 2016, a Joint Investigation Team found that the plane was shot down by a missile shot from a Russian Buk launcher brought to the militant-occupied territory of Donbas from Russia. Investigators do not specify the owner of the deadly Buk. But, no matter how many fairytales for the media are written about "volunteer soldiers on vacation," it is unlikely that it will come to mind of anyone even in Russia to justify the existence of "privately-owned" Russian anti-aircraft missile systems. Who could that be other than the Russian defense ministry who owns the Buk missile launcher, which shot down MH17?
Russian army is led by the supreme commander-in-chief. As Putin himself said a few years ago, while answering the UNIAN correspondent’s question, the Russian president and the supreme commander-in-chief "is one person", who is responsible for the fate of Russian troops.
Moscow understands perfectly that it’s ever too close to being driven into the corner by unquestionable evidence. This is what’s they are getting prepared for.
In fact, the MH17 tragedy has become a mirror of Russian aggression. And while a detailed investigation has been carried out in relation to the deadly Buk launcher and every point of its movement has been registered, it is almost impossible to carry out such a detailed analysis regarding hundreds of tanks and other military equipment deployed from Russia. In any case, the tracks will lead first to the seized parts of Ukrainian-Russian border and then to some specific military unit or a warehouse of the Russian Defense Ministry.
Moscow understands perfectly that it’s ever too close to being driven into the corner by unquestionable evidence. This is what’s they are getting prepared for. It is no accident that Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko, who is the third high-ranking official in the Russian hierarchy, called the initiative to create an International MH17 Tribunal (298 people died!!!) "interference" in Russia's internal affairs.
Russia’s massive propaganda machine will continue to deny everything vigorously, while the country’s leader will be mocking everyone from behind the Kremlin wall and wave his nuclear club.
The civilized world will have to make great effort to bring to justice those responsible for this act of terror.
It is useless to fight terrorism alongside a terrorist.
Roman Tsymbaliuk, Moscow