On July 17th , the world was shaken to the core when a Malaysian airliner was shot down by a ground-to-air missile, which is widely believed to have been fired by the Russian-backed terrorists of a self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR). On July 18th, nearly every pundit who has been following the crisis in Eastern Ukraine had declared that the Rubicon has been crossed, and the world will never be the same. This tragedy, which has taken the lives of 298 innocent civilians, was so markedly different from the previous crimes committed by the terrorists, that the only thing that felt absolutely improbable was that July 19th will be just another day.
Not only did the terrorists not repent -- the horror of the crash was followed by the revulsion of the alleged looting of the bodies, tampering with evidence, using of the black boxes from the plane as a negotiating chip by the terrorists, denial of access to the crash site and endless delays in repatriation of the remains. Gruesome and graphic images flooded the Internet, further traumatizing the families already devastated by the loss of their loved ones.
Today, two more planes were shot down -- this time fighter jets belonging to the Ukrainian military. The spokesman of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine stated in his briefing earlier today that the jets were downed "at a height of 5,200 meters. According to initial reports, the missiles were launched from the territory of Russian Federation." Has the world really changed since the MH17 disaster? Has it changed for the worst?
The behavior of the DNR terrorists is despicable, but it is also predictable. What I find astounding and truly emblematic of the role the Kremlin is playing in this crisis is the testimony given by Russia's representative to the UN. Mr. Churkin took it upon himself to defend the DNR terrorists and explain away the tragedy, "If they think they shot down a military jet, it was confusion. If it was confusion, it was not an act of terrorism." As he inadvertently admitted Russia's links with the terrorists or, at a minimum, Russia's interest in preserving their "impeccable" reputation, I wished that Mr. Churkin could have used his energy to resolve the crisis rather than then exacerbating them.