Monday, July 21, 2014

The West needs a strategy to contain the world’s newest rogue state — Russia

By Editorial Board July 21 at 6:41 PM, WashPost

THE DESTRUCTION of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine may not have been intended by Russia or the militants it has supported and armed. But their behavior since the downing of the plane has been a lesson in barbarity and morally contemptible statecraft. While its proxies, commanded by some of its own citizens, did their best to cover up the atrocity, the government of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin has denied the obvious, employing a blatantly mendacious propaganda campaign.

The tactics prompted angry statements Monday from President Obama and European leaders. But more Western rhetoric is not what is needed now.

Late Monday, rebels who control the region where the plane was downed finally appeared to be taking steps toward cooperating with the Malaysian government and other international authorities. Nothing, however, can compensate for the militants’ behavior in the four days after a Russian-supplied anti-aircraft battery on their territory shot down the airliner. According to numerous reports, they prohibited international investigators from reaching the site, haphazardly loaded bodies onto train cars and looted the personal effects of victims.

In Moscow, Mr. Putin disappeared from view after making a statement assigning responsibility for the downing to the Ukrainian government on the absurd grounds that Kiev had dared to fight back against the infiltrators dispatched and armed by his own regime. Moscow’s propaganda apparatus then swung into action, producing a blizzard of fake evidence and bizarre conspiracy theories to deflect responsibility. At a Defense Ministry briefing Monday, journalists were presented with concocted data purporting to show that the Malaysian flight could have been shot down by a Ukrainian warplane — a lie that is the more bold because of the ease with which it can be disproved.

(More here.)

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