Was Putin Targeted for Mid-Air Assassination?

Exclusive: Official Washington’s conventional wisdom on the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down blames Russian President Putin, but some U.S. intelligence analysts think Putin, whose plane was flying nearby, may have been the target of Ukrainian hardliners who hit the wrong plane, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

U.S. intelligence analysts are weighing the possibility that the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was a botched attempt by extremists in the Ukrainian government to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin whose aircraft was returning from South America the same day, according to a source briefed on the U.S. investigation.

If true, the direction of the investigation into the July 17 crash has veered dramatically from initial U.S. government allegations that eastern Ukrainian rebels, using a Russian-supplied anti-aircraft battery, were responsible for bringing down the plane killing 298 people onboard.

A side-by-side comparison of the Russian presidential jetliner and the Malaysia Airlines plane.

A side-by-side comparison of the Russian presidential jetliner and the Malaysia Airlines plane.

The Obama administration used those claims to whip up an anti-Russian hysteria that prompted European countries to ratchet up economic sanctions against Moscow, starting what now looks like an incipient trade war.

But the U.S. analysts dismissed those original suspicions because they could find no evidence that such a missile battery had been supplied by the Russians or was in the possession of the rebels, prompting a shift in thinking toward a scenario in which Ukrainian hardliners working with elements of the air force may have tried to ambush Putin’s plane but instead hit the Malaysian airliner, said the source speaking on condition of anonymity.

Putin flies in a plane with similar red, white and blue markings as the Malaysian airliner and was known to be on his way home after a six-day visit to South America. But his plane took a different route and landed safely in Moscow.

After the crash, as U.S. intelligence analysts pored over phone intercepts and other intelligence data, they began to suspect that the motive for the shoot-down was the desire among some Ukrainian extremists to eliminate Putin whom they had been privately vowing to kill – words initially viewed as empty bluster but which were looked at differently in hindsight – the source said.

If some Ukrainian authorities were hoping to ambush Putin’s plane, they also would have had only a matter of minutes to detect the aircraft’s presence and make a decision to fire, so it could be plausible that the attackers made a hasty decision to hit Putin’s plane before they realized that they had made a tragic mistake.

Blaming Russia

After the crash, the Ukrainian government quickly assembled some pieces of information from “social media” to pin the blame on the eastern Ukrainian rebels and the Russian government for what would have been a reckless decision to supply such powerful weapons to a poorly trained force.

The rebels denied having a Buk anti-aircraft battery capable of reaching an aircraft flying at 33,000 feet and the Russians denied having supplied one, but those denials were brushed aside by the mainstream U.S. news media and were rejected as well by senior U.S. officials. Only three days after the crash, Secretary of State John Kerry made the rounds of five Sunday talk shows to embrace the Ukrainian government’s assertions although the official investigation into the crash had just begun.

The following Tuesday senior U.S. intelligence officials briefed mainstream reporters from several news outlets offering qualified support to the claims by Kiev and Kerry, but some journalists noted the lack of any real evidence and the briefing’s curious reliance on “social media” rather than aerial reconnaissance, phone intercepts or other official sources. The absence of this corroborating evidence suggested that the case against the rebels and Russia was weaker than the Obama administration was letting on.

Yet, because of the high-level endorsements of Russia’s presumed guilt, the U.S. intelligence analysts are moving cautiously in developing their alternative scenario, said the source, who added that another line of inquiry still being pursued is that the Ukrainian military brought down the passenger plane simply to create a provocation that could be turned against the rebels and Russia.

But the assassination motive would seem to make more sense given the intense hatred expressed by Ukrainian leaders toward Putin and how Ukrainian extremists would view the murder of Putin as a giant feather in their cap.

Still, the idea of assassinating the Russian president by shooting down his plane – even if the attack were carried out by hardliners without the approval of top officials – could have provoked a major international crisis. Nuclear-armed Russia would have almost surely retaliated against Ukraine, possibly with a full-scale invasion which could have escalated into a dangerous military confrontation with the United States.

This possibility of a cascading crisis beyond the control of rational policymakers has always been a risk since the U.S.-backed overthrow of elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22, a putsch spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias though also supported by more moderate political figures. The U.S. State Department quickly embraced the coup regime as “legitimate,” but ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, which had been Yanukovych’s political base, resisted the new order.

Crimea, another stronghold of ethnic Russians, voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, a move endorsed by Putin and backed by Russian troops who were stationed in Crimea, the site of the Russian naval base at Sebastopol. The annexation of Crimea was heartily denounced by President Barack Obama and U.S. allies in Europe, who began applying sanctions on Russia.

Meanwhile, the new Ukrainian government, which gave the neo-Nazis several ministries in appreciation for their key role in the coup, began calling the ethnic Russian resistance “terrorists.” New National Guard units, formed from neo-Nazi militias, were dispatched to intimidate ethnic Russians in the southern city of Odessa, where scores were killed when a pro-Kiev mob set a trade union building ablaze.

A Worsening Crisis

As the crisis worsened, several eastern cities in the Donbass region also voted to secede and an armed resistance emerged against the Kiev regime, which responded by vowing to crush the rebellion with an “anti-terrorist operation” that has included artillery and aerial bombardments against towns and cities held by the rebels.

On Friday, a Ukrainian parliamentary group reported that more than 10,000 people have been killed in Kiev’s offensive since April, a number far higher than earlier estimates.

Angered by the mounting violence, the Russians lodged murder accusations against two Ukrainian officials, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and Ihor Kolomoisky, a billionaire oligarch who was appointed by the coup regime to be governor of the southeastern Dnipropetrovsk Region.

Kolomoisky, known for his strong-arm business tactics including deploying paid thugs to intimidate rivals, is now using his fortune to finance paramilitary units, such as the Dnipro Battalion which is considered one of the most aggressive and brutal units in the “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine.

Since the February coup, Kolomoisky also has engaged in a bitter war of words with Putin whom he publicly mocked as a “schizophrenic shorty.” But Kolomoisky’s fury toward Putin has intensified in the face of the Russian murder charge and other threats to the billionaire’s PrivatBank holdings. In private conversations, Kolomoisky has made angry threats against Putin, the source said.

Other Ukrainian officials have vowed to kill Putin. Ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a onetime Kolomoisky ally, said in an intercepted phone: “It’s about time we grab our guns and kill, go kill those damn Russians together with their leader.”

Though U.S. intelligence was aware of such threatening anti-Putin rhetoric via American intercepts, the rants were not taken seriously, at least not until after the shoot-down of the Malaysian airliner, the source said. Now, they are reportedly being studied as a possible motive for the July 17 attack.

Another curious development was the sudden resignation on Thursday of Andriy Parubiy as chief of Ukraine’s national security. A longtime neo-Nazi leader, Parubiy had organized and directed the paramilitary forces that spearheaded the putsch on Feb. 22 forcing Yanukovych and his government officials to flee for their lives.

Parubiy refused to explain his reason for quitting but some analysts believe it may have a connection to the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down, the source said. The U.S. intelligence analysts specifically said their evidence does not implicate Ukraine’s current President Petro Poroshenko or Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, but they did not extend that clearance to the more extreme elements of the government, the source said.

Russian Evidence

Based on technical evidence that Moscow has supplied to U.S. and other investigators, it appears that the Ukrainian military had several Russian-made Buk anti-aircraft missiles along the path of the Malaysia Airlines flight as well as two jetfighters in the air in the vicinity of the doomed plane.

Eyewitnesses also reported seeing one or two Ukrainian jetfighters near the airliner right before it was blown out of the sky. Two theories are that the jetfighters were trying to identify the plane or were responsible for finishing it off if the missile failed to do the job.

An independent analysis by an expert on the Buk systems, who has reviewed the Russian evidence, says it shows that one of the Ukrainian anti-aircraft batteries was in position to take down the Malaysian airliner by inflicting damage consistent with the wreckage that has so far been recovered from the plane.

As the pieces of this puzzle fill in, the image that emerges is of a possible Ukrainian ambush of a jetliner heading into Russian airspace that had markings very similar to President Putin’s official plane. As shocking as that picture may be, there is a grim logic to it, given the demonization of Putin who has been likened to Hitler and Stalin by pundits and politicians from Ukraine to the United States.

However, even if the U.S. intelligence analysts do assemble a strong case implicating an extremist faction within the Ukrainian government, there is still the political problem for the Obama administration of dealing with a conclusion so dramatically at odds with the original accusations aimed at the rebels and Russia.

Powerful people are notoriously unwilling to admit mistakes, especially when it could open them to charges that they rushed to judgment and behaved recklessly. There are similarities with the hasty U.S. conclusions a year ago when sarin gas killed hundreds outside Damascus on Aug. 21 – and the finger of blame was pointed immediately at the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

On Aug. 30, Secretary Kerry declared repeatedly that “we know” that the Assad regime was guilty, but some U.S. intelligence analysts were privately expressing their doubts and refused to endorse a “Government Assessment” which presented no verifiable evidence to support the accusations. The four-page white paper also suppressed the dissents of the analysts.

Over the ensuing months as much of Kerry’s case fell apart, some of these analysts came to believe that rebel extremists were likely responsible for the attack as a provocation to draw in the U.S. military into the civil war on their side. But the U.S. government has never retracted its allegations against the Syrian government. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]

Given how far senior U.S. officials have gone in heaping blame for the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down on the rebels and the Russians, it is hard to envision a walk-back of those accusations regardless of the actual evidence. To compel that would require true courage from U.S. analysts or from international investigators looking into the crash.

It is never easy to contradict important people, especially when they have leveled such serious accusations so confidently. That is one reason why Kerry and the mainstream U.S. news media should have held back on their conclusions until a thorough investigation had been done.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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59 comments on “Was Putin Targeted for Mid-Air Assassination?

  1. incontinent reader on said:

    This one has been circulating for a while, Bob, but you certainly have tied together the loose ends into a coherent and deeply troubling narrative, and you have so many good sources (and been so right in the past), that I am worried that you may be right about this.

    I’m not worried because I think this was the Kiev plan, or that extremists and/or gangsters like Kolomoysky devised it and tried to implement it. That only outrages me. I’m worried that our own people who are so close to them- so much so that we are in a position to monitor most everything they do (whether from the sky or a spy)- also knew, and not just after the fact.

    If this was the case- and the fellow that would come to mind first has the initials J. B. – then serious action would have to be taken not only against the likes of Kolomoysky, but also our own operatives and contractors, and everyone else at our end who would have planned, facilitated and/or inspired it- which would include a LOT of people. And, if Harry Truman was right about where the buck stops, it would have to rise all the way up the chain of command to the very top- to a leader (plus his advisors and Congress) that no longer would have legitimacy to run, or oversee- or campaign for- anything, let alone our ship of state.

    Whether or not the US-EU-NATO keep stonewalling the investigation by not releasing the evidence in their possession- I hope the Russians will use their own sophisticated forensics to find the answers, and I also hope that if the US and EU don’t stop the carnage in the East, that the Russians, having exhausted all other avenues of relief, will receive support from the non-aligned world to intervene, and then act swiftly and surgically to destroy the Ukraine planes, artillery, communications- and target those extremists who have only had genocide on their mind. It’s now also becoming a matter of Russia’s own security, and it would be entirely understandable.

    In the meantime, maybe the Europeans should wise up and cool it if they want to avoid a nuclear winter and survive the seasonal one.

    For my part, as with BDS, I’ve included the sanctioned countries on my list and will remember to look out to avoid their products- it’s no more than a grain of sand, but maybe somewhere to start, and a small daily reminder to show solidarity with the victims.

    • robert davis on said:

      umiru bolno.

    • incontinent reader on said:

      What I missed on my first reading of your brilliant article, even though it was right there in black and white- maybe because it is so unspeakable and irrational- is the scenario that this could also have been done to trigger a nuclear war, the same existential threat that the country had faced and grappled with fifty years ago and more, and, for example, was recounted on the screen in films like “Fail Safe,” “Seven Days in May” and “Dr. Strangelove”, and in the made for TV films twenty years later, such as “The Day After”, and “Threads”. (It was reported that “The Day After” had such an effect on Reagan that it convinced him of the necessity to negotiate a nuclear arms agreement with the Soviet Union.)

      These are issues and consequences we must fear and continue to be serious about when our ideologues and demagogues provoke confrontation even if they think they are only negotiating, because, while gambling in a simple negotiation- and Obama is a crafty political gambler- is one thing, risking the survival of the world is another, especially if mistakes could easily be made and trigger a war, whether or not one’s leaders believe they are in control enough to avoid them.

  2. Thank you for your honest and brave work!
    I can’t find any logic in Western Europe position.Why did they support US accusations against Russia in such hurry ?
    In today world do we have a chance that the truth will come out loud?

  3. Zachary Smith on said:

    U.S. intelligence analysts are weighing the possibility that the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was a botched attempt by extremists in the Ukrainian government to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin whose aircraft was returning from South America the same day, according to a source briefed on the U.S. investigation.

    This part of the essay makes sense. A significant problem is this: Putin hasn’t flown over the Ukraine for quite a long time.

    Consider though, the possibility that some crazed fanatics in the Ukrainian establishment were told (by a hypothetical foreign intelligence agency) they had a crack at killing him.

    If something like this happened, I’m inclined to go with the fighter-intercept scenario. This is strictly intuition because everybody is holding the facts very close to their vests.

    • This is a very plausible hypothesis, but there are some contradictions with actual reality.
      Why was ML17 course changed and rerouted over the combat region by Kiev ATC? They certainly know the difference in different aircraft transponder signals. How does this mesh with the “get Putin” scenario?
      If it was a shoot down by the mystery Ukrainian fighter jets allegedly shadowing ML17, it presumes that highly skilled pilots cannot visually tell the difference between a Boeing and an Illyusin airliner. I find that extremely improbable. The two planes may look similar to we keyboard commandos, but fighter pilots train extensively in visual aircraft profile recognition. If one got close enough to take out ML17 with cannon fire, he would know exactly what he was shooting down.
      A far more likely scenario is Israeli spooks planting a bomb in the departing ML17 at Schiphol airport, which their security companies control, and remotely detonating said explosive once ML17 had been re-routed over the desired crash site. No heat signatures or visible missile exhaust trails can be seen in any videos of the incident, which casts doubt on the BUK missile theory.

      • Zachary Smith – apologies, my comment above was directed at the article and not your comment, of which I tend to agree.

  4. Joe Tedesky on said:

    Mr Parry this article is a good example why I frequent your site.

    When the article started you mentioned the mistaken Putin flight theory. I was just beginning to wonder how this theory would by pass the SU25 plane situation that has been talked about so much of late. Then as usual you mentioned the SU25′s. I like the way in all your articles you cover all the bases. Wish I had your talent.

    While, I have some thoughts about the MH17 shoot down, I am not expert enough to really know the truth. I have posted on some earlier comments on this site the odd battle situation that was occurring leading up to the fateful plane’s destruction. If you recall the Ukrainian military was pinned down somewhere between the pro-Russian Federalist and the Russian border. This unfortunate position would have put the Ukraine military BUK batteries in an excellent position to intercept flight MH17. Plus, why would the Ukraine military even need such a weapon, as the BUK missiles since the pro-Russian Federalist has no Air Force.

    In any case, great reporting once again. Thanks, for being trustworthy and honest.

    • Dr. Frans B. Roos, Ph.D. on said:

      Joe to answer your question.
      why would the Ukraine military even need such a weapon,
      When the Ukraine was a going country Russia sold the Ukrain 60 (sixty) Buk batteries.

      As for Russia it self, it has 250 Buk batteries. And if they are smart, counting.

      Of course since Feb. 2014 everything has turned to SHIT in the Ukraine.

      • Joe Tedesky on said:

        Thanks Dr for the reply. I was only referring to ‘why’ the Ukraine Army would need the BUK for the no-plane Federalist. Just who were they going to use the BUK’s against. Feel free to reply I need all the help I can get on this one. Stay well J.T.

  5. I nominate Robert Parry for the Pulitzer Prize for his series on the Ukraine!

    This line is telling:

    “Ukrainian extremists would view the murder of Putin as a giant feather in their cap.”

    What idiots these people are. If Putin had been killed, the Russian response would have been swift and devastating. There would be little left of Kiev today and NATO would be on notice to knock it off. The risk of escalation would have been muted by the reason for the response. The Russian President was murdered!!! Medvedev would have become President (I believe). He showed a willingness to use force in 2008 in Georgia.

    Obama and Kerry are liars in the sense that they told a story convenient to their ends when they knew that the story was not even close to being confirmed.

    Parry has some very patriotic sources. We deserve the truth.

    Here’s the kicker. I keep thinking that the Russians are not showing all of their cards. One card they may have through their remaining assets in Ukraine is evidence of the plot to kill the Russian president. They have more cards than this but that one is the ACE.

  6. Dmitriy on said:

    As far as I’m aware the route over Ukraine haven’t been used by Putin’s plane since the tensions had risen in the Ukraine.

    If the plane was shot down by Ukrainian aircraft, then the choice of target might have had to do with the fact that Malaysian Airlines is one of the key economy drivers of Malaysia, which incidentally is one of the few China’s closest ally in eastern Asia (and that region is getting hotter each month, as well). So the downing of the plane strikes both Russia and China, albeit “technically” indirectly.

    This might seem too conspiracy-like at first, but then again, Yanukovich’s troubles all began after he had tried to strike some deals with China, too *shrugs*

    • Alyssa McMorrow on said:

      That’s precisely why I believe Kolomoisky was involved, and I’m glad to see that Parry mentioned him. He’s Jewish and a dual Israeli citizen; if Malaysian Airlines was purposely targeted, it could be due to the fact that the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal recently found the State of Israel and Amos Yaron guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. He would have a pretty solid motive to punish them.

      What’s also interesting are the companies he controls through his company Privat Group, which he’s the controlling shareholder for. Through Privat Group, he is the main shareholder for Dniproavia, an airline headquartered out of Dnipropetrovsk International Airport. From Wikipedia, “On 22 June 1996, the airline became a joint stock company in a state-owned entity which included Dnipropetrovsk International Airport, thus giving the airline full control over its home base.” According to Times of India, the pilot of the Air India Dreamliner that was less than 25km away from MH17 when it crashed stated that the “direct routing” order (just minutes before the crash) came from Dnipropetrovsk air traffic controllers. The pilot was then asked by the same ATCs to try to make contact with MH17. So not only did Kolomoisky have the motive, he had the means as well.

      Also interesting is the fact that Kolomoisky employs Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and John Kerry’s former senior advisor, Devon Archer, through Burisma Holdings (also controlled by Privat Group).

      It could just be a coincidence, but for some reason I have a strong suspicion that it’s not.

  7. J.R. Sharpe on said:

    Next your “analysis” will show that the Ukrainians shot down their own fighter planes too! This was a mistake by the Russian backed rebels, more no less. In my view the rebels were assisted by Russian Special Forces, but that is pure speculation on my part, but I have the courage to say it is speculation. I’ll go with “the Western, Anti-Russian” view that wants to hold Czar Putin accountable for Russia’s provocations in Eastern Europe.

    • If you took the time to look closely at the details, the Ukrainian military planes shot down by the anti-Kiev forces were all at 5000 meters or lower (the one plane “alleged” to be at 6500 meters, the AN-26 transport plane, was at first claimed by Kiev to have been “much too high” for the rebels to shoot down, therefore, the Russians must have shot it down with their fighter jets. ) Kiev is always throwing out claims, trying to make the rebels seem more “terrible”, and trying to show the Russians are intimately involved in the East, so they would get more money and military assistance from NATO – obviously self-serving claims, every week. After MH17, Kiev just changed their story – see, the rebels CAN shoot down high flying planes, like the MH17 (which was at 10,000 meters altitude, much too high for the Igla-S). Now, to accuse Russia of being involved, the story changed from “Russian fighter jets” to “a Russian Buk with assistance teams helping them shoot it”.

      A BBC expert strongly questions Kiev’s “claims” about the An-26 flying at 6500 meters, because of the transport mission and need for oxygen at that height and some other factors that make the Kiev altitude claim unbelievable… But the Igla-S MANPADS that the rebels have, and admit having, can down a target at up to 7km (more accurate for lower targets, of course; probability-of-kill is some high number at 3.5km, and gets lower as you go to 7km).

      The rebel Igla-S MANPADS explain ALL the Ukraine military planes shot down. The alleged “one shot Buk” – brought in for a single shot, against a civilian airline, then quickly smuggled out of Ukraine, back to Russia, seen by no one (no satellites) except some “anonymous SBU guy hiding in a dumpster” – is a wacky conspiracy theory nobody believes except casual propaganda readers in the West.

    • W. R. Knight on said:

      You are absolutely correct when you say that your view is pure speculation. And as such, it has no validity or value whatsoever.

      • Mike Rennie on said:

        Exactly.
        The view that the anti-Kiev rebels shot down MH17 is pure speculation, with no validity or value whatsoever.
        Hard evidence is needed.

    • What kind of Russia’s provocations? May be overthrowing Ukrainian President or creating pink revolution in Kirgiziya, or orange one in Ukraine not so many years ago? Russia and Europe at least share the same continent….

  8. Brendan on said:

    Any accusations about who brought down MH17 and why did it are just theories so far, but the weakest of them all is probably the widely accepted theory about rebel involvement.

    Somehow they got their hands on an extremely sophisticated missile system, half-learned how to use it and couldn’t tell the difference between the Boeing 777 commercial airliner and an AN-26 military transport plane, even though the 777 was flying 50 per cent higher than the maximum altitude of the AN26.

    This possibility cannot be completely ruled out but none of the so-called evidence to support it stands up to scrutiny. At least the theories about the Ukrainian army’s involvement have some data or circumstantial evidence to support them.

    One theory that has been largely ignored is that the Ukrainian army was conducting war games and accidentaly shot down the MH17 just like they did to a passenger plane in 2001. The introduction of trigger happy extremists into the Ukrainian military after the recent coup could have made such an error more likely to be repeated.

    • One only has to look at all the swift benefits that flowed to the struggling coup regime in Kiev since the July 17 civilian airline shoot down was blamed on “Russian assisted rebels” by The West, to understand the “motive” as to why the Kiev regime (or any of a number of vicious, scheming factions) might have decided to shoot down a civilian airliner and blame it on the rebels – who “must” therefore have had Russian assistance, since the Buk is difficult to use. (Note that the captured Buk the rebels admitted to was not a full, working system – and such military weapons systems have LAUNCH CODES, that even Kiev would not lie about and pretend that the codes were lying around and the rebels captured those, too).

      Kiev has a whole Military with which to shoot down airliners – Buks, fighter jets like the Su-27 with R-27 air-to-air missiles (some versions of which act just like the SA-11 surface-to-air missile in the damage it would do to MH17), and a strong motive to do so – if they could plausibly blame it on the rebels. With lots of Western Media assistance.

      Look closely at the timeline from July 17 – Kiev was blaming it on the rebels, with doctored “social media”, 6 minutes after MH17 was reported downed. (the first YouTube audio clip “blaming” the rebels had a timestamp from July 16, because Kiev planned this shoot down ahead of time – they knew it would bring lots of payoffs – which it has).

      A “war games accident” would not lead to an announcement 6 minutes after the shootdown that the rebels had used a Buk SA-11 missile – and an immediate release of “social media” to support this conspiracy theory. Whoever in Kiev did this knew they had to make it look like a Buk SA-11 fired by rebels, because that was the cover story released immediately.

      • William Jacoby on said:

        Mike’s comment makes sense to me. Obama by nature is a cautious person; he had a working relationship with Putin before, that had helped him out in Syria and Iran. The Ukraine coup does not seem like something he would have supported. So I think the initiative is coming from somewhere/someone else, too powerful for him to dismiss. I look to others to find out who and why, but the long-term vision and mission of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the unbreakable consensus it creates and shares among its constituents, would be more powerful than a mere President, no matter how intelligent and cautious. But at the level of executing strategy–isn’t the CIA practically running the Ukrainian military now? The PR attack on Moscow over the jetliner was obviously ready to go and the immediate sign-on by Kerry and Obama is also an indication that the goal from the start of the Ukraine adventure was to put NATO on Russia’s border. And if THAT was the goal, then assassinating Putin is no crazier. Why be on Russia’s border if you can’t create turmoil in Russia? That seems to be the policy of our invisible rulers, and Obama has shown himself time and again to be unable or unwilling to assert direction over our government.

    • Brendan on said:

      Mike Rennie, I don’t know which social media announcement you mean but if it’s the Strelkov message, that doesn’t prove that the rebels carried out the attack anyway. It’s just presented as the ‘smoking gun’ but not very convincingly.

      The discrepancy in the date of the recording seems to be due to a bug in the way that YouTube converts mp4 files:
      https://www.metabunk.org/threads/debunked-mh17-video-timestamped-before-the-crash-and-other-timeline-issues.3988/
      It’s a bit hard to believe anyway that the Ukranian forces are so highly organised that they create and upload their fake evidence the day before the attack.

      That doesn’t rule out the possibility that it was a false flag operation, though.
      There’s evidence of a previous false flag in the shooting of protestors in Maidan square in Kiev to be found in the Monitor program from the German state broadcaster – and they’re no conspicacy theorists. According to that program, some of the shots must have come from the Hotel Ukrainia which was occupied by the then opposition who are now in government. The Estonian foreign minister said something similar in a phone call that was leaked and appears to be authentic. Those shootings were blamed on the then Yanukovich government and was used as a pretext for the coup.

    • Read your link. I’ll stick with Parry.

    • F. G. Sanford on said:

      Proyect claims to support a socialist ideology with formative roots in American Trotskyism. But, we must keep in mind the Trotsky fellow travelers who included Carl Schmitt’s protege Leo Strauss and the later Kaganite Neocons now embroiled with neo-Nazis in Ukraine. Even a superficial review of Proyect’s work indicates that he has no real intellectual foundation for his bizarre political rationalizations. They swing wildly between Nietzscheian iconoclasm and the delusional state of “permanent revolution” advocated by that perennial “man without a plan”, Leon Trotsky. Proyect purports to be a lone, intrepid warrior for truth who embraces the schizophrenic notion that one man can singlehandedly embrace both sides of the Hegelian dialectic without sounding like a bullshit artist. Danny Sheehan uses the same philosophical gymnastics to explain flying saucers and the Kennedy assassination with his “Octave Theory”. My best guess is that Proyect is a paid shill trolling for lunatics who can be recruited into entrapment schemes in order to rationalize the “war on terror”. If he really believed all the other nonsense he claims to support, he’d have no sympathy for Ukrainian neo-Nazis. That he criticizes Robert Parry stems from either professional jealousy or a tacit admission that he doesn’t really believe any of his own drivel. My advice? Read it at your own risk.

      • Louis Proyect on said:

        Are all of Parry’s regular susceptible to such purple prose and unwillingness to deal with substantial matters such as RT.com’s clear divergence from Parry’s Mulder-like speculation? I can’t say that I am surprised.

        • Clever Username on said:

          1) What matters is whether the UA /thought/ it was Putin’s plane, and your RT source doesn’t support that; in fact, it argues against it.

          2) It’s not Parry’s speculation; it’s US intelligence analysts.

          3) You have supported to the hilt every one of Obama’s interventions, even in the face of contrary evidence that has ultimately been validated each time. You are far, far less credible than Parry.

    • Joe Tedesky on said:

      Mr Proyect, Robert Parry’s article stated….”After the crash, as U.S. intelligence analysts pored over phone intercepts” ….read the article. Mr Parry is only reporting what the U.S. Intelligence is saying. Mr Parry, is a reporter, and he is only reporting.

      • Louis Proyect on said:

        Mr Parry is only reporting what the U.S. Intelligence is saying. Mr Parry, is a reporter, and he is only reporting.

        Yeah, and a month ago he was writing about guys in Ukrainian uniforms surrounded by beer bottles on the ground shooting down the plane with a missile. Who told him? An “intelligence analyst”. This guy now picks up a new tale and all you people clap your hands like trained seals. Pathetic.

        • Clever Username on said:

          Since the fighter could have just been looking for visual confirmation for a surface to air missile launch, that story is not inconsistent with this one.

          We don’t know what happened to MH 17. If the US released its evidence we’d have a much better idea.

      • Joe Tedesky on said:

        Louis go peddle your propaganda somewhere else. Calling us trained seals is not needed, but it shows your frustration at the apparent intelligent commenters here on this site. F.G. Stanford blew you away, and you don’t know how to argue with him. Take a hike!

  9. W. R. Knight on said:

    Has anyone in the Bush administration ever admitted they were wrong about the “weapons of mass destruction”?

  10. Audriano on said:

    If it was Kolomoisky’s idea, supposedly the last contact Malaysian airliner had was with the air control of Dnipropetrovsk. The controllers (and the data) have disappeared since, some claim they are under ‘protection’ of SBU (Ukrainian homeland security). But if that’s the case and the Dnipropetrovsk (read: Kolomoisky) controllers participated in executing that idea, its masterminds must have known by then that the plane is not Putin’s. If they did altered its flight path and altitude, by that time it should’ve been clear that the plane is Malaysian. But of course, perhaps the (failed) plan you’re suggesting was carried out without involvement of the air controllers, which routinely directed the flight because of some objective factors, and the plan executors were confident enough in their intelligence info to not involve the help of the air controllers.

    Another question is: who would supply such (intentionally?) faulty intelligence? The Putin’s and Malaysian planes coordinates supposedly did cross at one point somewhere in Poland. Did that ‘intelligence’ deludedly tracked the wromg plain from there? Did it actually believe Putin would fly over the war zone and before that – Dnipropetrovsk county? Perhaps they were crazy, irresponsible and unprofessional enough to misguide (or to be misguided) themselves into such failure. But that does sound very, very crazy.

  11. Ed Lozano on said:

    Despite I don’t buy the MSM version and pretty sure the pro-Russian rebels had nothing to do with MH17, I have trouble with the Putin’s plane theory. There’s no reason why Putin would dare to fly over Ukrainian airspace other than a very stupid and dangerous provocation, and there’s good reason to believe Ukrainian extremists should be aware that was a civil plane once it was in contact with Ukrainian air traffic control at least for a couple of hours before the hit. So there are some holes yet to be filled to make this a credible story. That said, I make one addendum to the theory. Most of us believe the assassination of Putin would necessarily trigger war with Russia and predictable ruin for Kiev’s rulers and Oligarchs alike – another reason why this plot doesn’t seem logical. However, that might not be the case if Ukraine could blame the rebels for the downing of the plane – or at least achieve “reasonable doubt” for itself. This could lead to a complete change in the scenario. But again, this would be so awkward I can’t imagine not even the CIA making it happen.

  12. Louis Proyect on said:

    Perhaps they were crazy, irresponsible and unprofessional enough to misguide (or to be misguided) themselves into such failure. But that does sound very, very crazy.

    Well, last month Parry said that some guys in Ukrainian uniforms drank too much beer and brought down MH17: “According to a source briefed on the tentative findings, the soldiers manning the battery appeared to be wearing Ukrainian uniforms and may have been drinking, since what looked like beer bottles were scattered around the site. But the source added that the information was still incomplete and the analysts did not rule out the possibility of rebel responsibility.”

    When I read this, my eyes popped out of my head like a Warner Brothers cartoon character. No, this was Parry and not Onion.com. I love the bit about beer bottles scattered around the site. You’d think that he would have mentioned vodka in order to make it sound more plausible. The last time I read anything this ridiculous was when Mint Press reported on rebels playing around with sarin gas containers causing an accident that cost the lives of hundreds in East Ghouta. Those Ukrainian troops and Syrian rebels, just like Bluto and Otter getting into trouble in “Animal House”.

    • Clever Username on said:

      So Parry is wrong because of your incredulity? Great logic, Louis.

      What’s your explanation for the “defector” meme that intelligence officials introduce and then dropped? You never mention that aspect of Parry’s reporting.

      • Elena on said:

        I’m very grateful to this site, I learn a lot from intelligent people here. It feels awsome to find out that there are many people actually see what I see. But not you. You are sarcastic, indeed. What else you got?

    • Audriano on said:

      As ludicrous and sensationalist as it sounds, this week I stumbled across a video where Ukrainian army / national guard near the Russian border were drunk and threatening to open fire at the Russians (not the rebels). I can try and find that one for you. Of course, that’s not a crime or ‘proof’ of any kind, but they were Ukrainian militants and they were drunk. Sometimes, the most onion.com-y explanation can be the most obvious one.

    • Audriano on said:

      Here’s the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-gYrK7IeV0

      It’s posted by the ‘Donetsk Republic’ profile, the militants are talking in Ukrainian. The owners of the profile and the post claim these guys are targeting the Russian Federation territory. That, of course, may not be true at all.

      • It’s true. They (Ukrainian army) do it periodically. There are victims on Russian territory. But who cares…

  13. Elena on said:

    Clever Username, I’m with you! I was responding to Mr.Proyect!

  14. Vyacheslav Zavdsky on said:

    Putin plane version is extremely hard to believe. I would way more easily buy a version that plan was shut down by mistake, either by rebels or Ukranian army. Officially, Ukrainian has 18th combat sorties on 16 and 0 (!, if true) on 17th. On 16th , they alleged that russian planes shoot down Ukrainian plane (or two, I do not recall). I can easily see rebels directing at Ukranian bomber or supply plane, but shooting MH17, or equally well see Ukrainians, that planned safari on Russians (if 0 is true, planned safari is only possible explanation of 0) and misidentified MH17 using 30 years old missile system with hardly trained crew

    • Peter Klein on said:

      I do agree: This is close to conspiracy theory. How do you know that there is the plane that you want to shoot? From the ground it seems difficult to distinguish markings on a plane flying at 30,000 ft – expecially when the sky is clouded as it was on this day.
      So you should have to confirm using a second plane – makes sense. But why use a SU25 if you have several MIG29 at hand? Or even just use your radar, as any plane constantly sends its ID.
      This leads to another question: The Russians presented a radar map and anyone seems to have taken it for granted. You remember the Indian pilot some miles away? He was said to be flying a Dreamliner – not a Boeing 778.
      After checking the other planes I have a simple question: Was this map drawn by a student – or is everybody lying to us?

  15. Couple days ago I tried to debate with people who post their comments under “Bloomberg” articles – no luck. I gave them link to this site and I was called psychotic. Thank you guys for being polite and respectful commenting here.

  16. Joe Tedesky on said:

    For those who are having a hard time with Robert Parry’s story here is how I reason with it. Mr Parry is simply reporting what U.S. intelligence analysts are telling him. Whether they are suggesting an assassination attempt against Putin, or they talk about seeing beer bottles, it’s what they are telling Mr Parry. These analyst are throwing everything up against the wall, but they aren’t telling anyone anything at all. If the U.S. were to release some real data then that would tell us what we all are desperate to find out. Mr Parry is just providing the service to us with his reporting. Don’t shoot the messenger.

    The real story is the lack of information. It isn’t what they are saying any longer, it’s what they aren’t saying that has now become the American narrative in regard to MH17. Who knows maybe the analyst are purposely trying to confuse us. In fact is it possible these same analyst are stumbling around the room confused themselves?

    So instead of picking on Robert Parry write your Congress Person and demand that the government come clean. Where are our country’s satellite pictures? What happened to the black box data? When may we see Secretary Kerry doing five Sunday talk shows saying, “oh look what we just found out” !

  17. Skeptic on said:

    Apart from the content, the commentary is invaluable in fleshing out an issue. This is particularly so when so much is speculation and a multitude of scenarios can be examined and debated.

    Of one thing we can be certain: regardless of the official intelligence analysis, the raw data is there and there are those that do know the truth, whatever it might be. Perhaps someone will have the courage and the skills, to draw the veils.

    Sadly, too many have accepted the official US/EU/NATO anti-Russian spin that is presented as fact without verification. This has lead to trouble before and unfortunately indications point that way again. Unfortunately the Russians are sufficiently inflexible and clumsy to make bad outcomes more likely.

    I agree with Parry that leaders paint themselves into corners from which they are unwilling, or unable to escape. History is replete with such examples and this looks like a zinger.

    • “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”
      –Sir Walter Scott

      I was quite young when I was warned of this phenomenon by my mother, as an admonition against lying. All kids experiment with lying, of course, so I tested it on several occasions, usually to cover up some unsuitable and/or forbidden behavior. I discovered it to be very accurate.

  18. Skeptic on said:

    Apart from the content, the commentary is invaluable in fleshing out an issue. This is particularly so when so much is speculation and a multitude of scenarios can be examined and debated.

    Of one thing we can be certain: regardless of the official intelligence analysis, the raw data is there and there are those that do know the truth, whatever it might be. Perhaps someone will have the courage and the skills, to draw the veils.

    Sadly, too many have accepted the official US/EU/NATO anti-Russian spin that is presented as fact without verification. This has lead to trouble before and unfortunately indications point that way again. Unfortunately the Russians are sufficiently inflexible and clumsy to make bad outcomes more likely. However, Putin did bail out the US re Syria, not much gratitude now.

    I agree with Parry that leaders paint themselves into corners from which they are unwilling, or unable to escape. History is replete with such examples and this looks like a zinger.

    • Oh, yea, those Russians are inflexible. The US and Ko so flexibly push them into a corner and they cannot react appropriately, smiling and surrendering…
      That guileless americans…

  19. “unfortunately the Russians… Inflexible and clumsy…”
    The more I think about this statement the less I agree. Seems to me that Russians use every possible diplomatic way to bring attention to real situation on Ukraine, but running into a wall everywhere . Putin is not a sleeky lier – can we call it “inflexibility”?
    I’m really trying to imagine what “flexible” Russian position would be. Any ideas?

  20. Alyssa McMorrow on said:

    I’m glad to see that Parry mentioned Ihor Kolomoisky, as I’ve had some strong suspicions about his involvement. To elaborate a little on why, I found some very interesting pieces of information about him: He’s Jewish and a dual Israeli citizen; if Malaysian Airlines was purposely targeted, it could be due to the fact that the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal recently found the State of Israel and Amos Yaron guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. He would have a pretty solid motive to punish them.

    What’s also interesting are the companies he controls through his parent company Privat Group, which he’s the controlling shareholder for. Through Privat Group, he just happens to be the main shareholder for Dniproavia, an airline headquartered out of Dnipropetrovsk International Airport. From Wikipedia, “On 22 June 1996, the airline became a joint stock company in a state-owned entity which included Dnipropetrovsk International Airport, thus giving the airline full control over its home base.” According to Times of India, the pilot of the Air India Dreamliner that was less than 25km away from MH17 when it crashed stated that the “direct routing” order (just minutes before the crash) came from Dnipropetrovsk air traffic controllers. The pilot was then asked by the same ATCs to try to make contact with MH17. So not only did Kolomoisky have the motive, he had the means as well.

    Also interesting is the fact that Kolomoisky employs Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and John Kerry’s former senior advisor, Devon Archer, through Burisma Holdings (also controlled by Privat Group).

    It could just be a coincidence, but for some reason I don’t think it is.

  21. Hillary on said:

    Just a thought but what is it about Malaysian Airlines ?
    ..
    One passenger jet missing; another “shot down” both within a few months of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission in Malaysia convicting Israel of genocide against the Palestinian people.
    Coincidence ?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuala_Lumpur_War_Crimes_Commission

    • Joe Tedesky on said:

      I agree Hillary. Either Malaysia Airlines is the unluckiest airline, or they have a revengeful enemy.

  22. Gregory Kruse on said:

    It’s great to see so many comments. I hope everybody has sent some money in. This will probably join all the other unsolved and unsolvable mysteries like Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination, 9/11, etc. I think the “get Putin” scenario is the most intriguing and believable, much like the theory that blames a panicked Secret Service agent for accidentally firing his weapon which actually killed President Kennedy. When it’s too embarrassing for the bosses, the truth is preserved with formaldehyde, sealed in a coffin, and buried. It’s only the stench that remains.

  23. Aaron Tovish on said:

    I have not read the comments word for word, but scanning them it seems that no one has pointed out two FACTS which make the get-Putin theory untenable:
    (1) and plane returning from Latin America to Moscow would have a northerly flight path, whereas a plane from the Netherlands to Malaysia would have a southerly course; anyone with a compass could tell the difference;
    (2) the Russian Presidential planes have four large engines, the Malaysian plane has two, only a blind person could mistakenly identify them. Even the contrails look different to the naked eye.
    If “US intelligence analysts” are given this ridiculous theory consideration, they should be fired for lack of “intelligence”.
    Contrary to Parry’s assertion, there is evidence that a BUK system was in the hands of the Separatists. The direction of flight makes a Separatist mistake the most likely scenario. They would not have felt threatened by a plane flying so high. My guess is that they mistakenly judged it was a bigger, slower, military transport plane fly lower (within the standard range of BUK). So either the radar war gave a bad reading or it was read incorrectly, while the missile performed to the edge of its envelop. There are a number of things to check up then: Does Ukraine possess military transporters larger than the Malaysian jet? What altitude do they normally fly? And at what speed? Do they have just two engines?
    The Separatists had shot down at least one military transport planes before. Has anyone heard what elevation that plane was flying at?
    The only (good) reason the Ukrainians would have BUK deployed would be in anticipation of a Russian air offensive. Since the Malaysia jet was coming from the other direction there is no possibility of a mistaken identity on their part. So either they didn’t do it; or they did it intentionally, aiming to pin it on the Separatists.