Multiple news services are reporting the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 17 over Ukraine. The aircraft was a Boeing 777 with 229 passengers and 15 crew en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. None survived, 23 held American passports. The aircraft was in cruise at approximately 33,000ft, so it is alleged that the culprit was a heavy SAM. The crash site is some 50 km from the Russian border.
Claims and counter claims are already swirling around the internet as to the authors of this deed. Russia, the rebels, the Ukraine? All apparently own capable systems. My personal view is that neither Russia nor the rebels have anything to gain from such an action while it might be construed that the current Ukrainian government could want to encourage NATO intervention on its side as a result of this tragedy.
Russia allegely has a sophisticated and multi layered air defence system with I assume very good command and control systems so there should be radar evidence as well as forensics to identify the missile and the culprit.
My personal view is that if Washington does not approach the investigation of this matter in a bipartisan cooperative manner with Russia, then we can assume that the Obama Administration contemplates bringing Ukraine under NATO protection with the associated risk of direct military confrontation with Russia. Will the tone of Whitehouse press releases tell us which course, for better or worse, the Administration has chosen? Walrus