The murder of 298 people aboard a civilian airliner over Ukrainian territory represents an unmitigated, horrifying act of terrorism for which Russia and Vladimir Putin must be held accountable.
At this writing, there are still many unanswered questions about the incident. But there is little reason to doubt that Russia and its KGB-trained leader bear a large measure of responsibility for spilling innocent blood. There is simply no way Mr. Putin and the war party in Moscow can evade their complicity.
Without Russia’s active encouragement and open support, there would be no violent insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
Hence no armed “separatists.” Hence no anti-aircraft rockets aimed and ready to fire at a moment’s notice at anything in the sky. Hence no tragedies like the one that brought down a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet over contested territory.
On Friday, Fidel Castro, of all people, piped up to blame Ukraine for the disaster. No one should consider this anything but the ranting of a half-demented old man in his dotage. All the evidence so far points to the Kremlin-backed, pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine as the ones who fired the anti-aircraft missile that knocked Flight 17 out of the sky.
“That shot was taken in a territory controlled by the Russian separatists,” President Obama said Friday. His ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, went further, suggesting direct Russian complicity: “We cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating this (anti-aircraft) system.”
If Russia’s leaders have any shred of decency, any respect for world opinion, they must immediately cooperate with efforts to find out exactly what happened and why:
Mr. Obama’s challenge is to lead a unified response by the West, stiffening the spine of European allies. Their response to Russian aggression in Ukraine has been weak. Maybe now that the consequences of inaction have been made abundantly, horrifyingly clear, Europe’s democracies will finally decide to get serious.