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This tragedy could have been avoided



They say lightning never strikes twice. Try telling this to the Malaysian government who have lost two aircraft in as many months; or to the Australian family who lost relatives in both Malaysian flights.

At the United Nations last Friday the Russian ambassador stated it was for Ukraine to ensure both internal security, and decide whether to close their airspace to international over flights or let it remain open.

Prior to this the American UN ambassador  informed the gathering that evidence suggested that the Malaysian flight had been brought down by a missile fired from pro-Russian rebel controlled territory and probably aided by external expertise.

Within an hour of these UN statements a UK BBC news programme carried intercepted communications released by the Ukrainian government.

These intercepts indicated a pro-Russian rebel command centre confirming having shot down an aeroplane, identified as a civil airliner, and providing information regarding the casualty situation. Asked who operated the system it was reported to have been a Cossack. It was also stated that the missile launcher would have to be transported out of the area.

Just prior to this BBC report, President Obama fronted a White House press conference; stating that evidence suggested a missile had brought down the Malaysian flight; and was probably supplied by Russia.

There are a few things which the West could do right now, which shall not be done; there are actions which the US President could have announced, but didn't; and there are a few things which the UN could have agreed, but didn't.

Had EU member states acted earlier when EU negotiations triggered Russian concerns following the silent protest movement; and the Russian release of telephone intercepts suggesting American involvement in regime change, a positive dialogue might have been possible: preventing both the Russian annexation of Crimea, and the destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian rebels.

For example the British prime minister acting as a proper international statesman — corresponding to Churchill, Macmillan, and Thatcher before him — should have sought to influence the American president and following this reassured the Russians that their military bases in Ukraine would be safeguarded in return for Russia allowing Ukraine the right of self-determination, on the EU matter, without any
interference.

This approach might have prevented the present Ukrainian crisis and last week's unwarranted missile attack on a civil passenger airliner with the terrible loss of innocent lives.

In view of earlier diplomatic failures, and the unwarranted attack on the international community, the nation states whose citizens were innocently murdered by pro-Russian separatists should — through the American ambassador to the UN — have insisted that an international UN peacekeeping force be immediately deployed to Ukraine, with the approval of the Ukrainian government.

This UN peacekeeping force would have had the sole obligation of securing this international crash site; after all, the Russian ambassador, in his UN statement, pointed out that it was the duty of the Ukrainian government to secure peace across its territory.

The author is a freelance contributor based in Britain. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely his and not of Times of Oman.


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