By John J. Metzler
UNITED NATIONS — Truth is often stranger than fiction. The horrific event over eastern Ukraine, that of a civilian airliner being shot out of the skies by a high altitude Sam 11 missile, seems almost the improbable grist of a thriller novel or a pilot episode of the TV series 24 .
Add the fact that the Malaysian commercial flight and the 298 innocent passengers and crew killed in this tragedy had no connection to the ongoing crisis churning seven miles below in the disputed eastern Ukraine and you see an ironic and horrible turn to the crisis. The international community reacted with predictable shock and anguish. Foreign Ministries issued stern condemnations and the U.N. Security Council went into urgent session. The Russians assumed predictable cover-up mode, not for their direct actions, but the likely deeds of their locally created separatist Ukrainian militias, which have turned into a political Frankenstein. On a day when Russian-backed Ukrainian rebels shot a civilian airliner from the skies over Europe and on a day when Israeli troops crossed into Gaza to pursue Hamas terrorists, history will record that the American president was not in the Situation Room in Washington monitoring the pulse of the dual crises but at two lavish New York city political fundraisers. Yet, days later the U.N. Security Council to its credit, unanimously passed a resolution condemning “in the strongest terms” the airliner downing and called for “ a full, thorough, and independent international investigation” into the tragic incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines. The Council also called for “unfettered access to the crash site” to ensure its integrity is maintained. Russia, despite its veto power, nervously supported the draft resolution. Had Moscow blocked the inquiry, more attention would have fallen not on the separatist thugs in eastern Ukraine, but their political puppeteers in the Kremlin. By backing the resolution, Putin can claim he is working toward a solution to the atrocity and still have time to spread the black arts of disinformation about the incident. Given that the largest loss of life affected almost 200 Dutch civilians on the ill-fated Malaysian MH-17 airliner, The Netherlands Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans addressed the Council, “The demise of almost 200 of my compatriots has left a hole in the heart of the Dutch nation. It has caused grief, anger and despair.”