The Politicized Tragedy
The MH17 incident holds heavy implications for the future of the Ukrainian crisis
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UPDATED: July 28, 2014 NO. 31 JULY 31, 2014
Unfortunate, Unnecessary, Untimely

On July 17, after being reportedly struck by an anti-aircraft missile while en route to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 came crashing down in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border, killing all 298 passengers and crew members on board. The tragedy shocked the world and devastated relatives and friends of the victims. While paying our condolences to all, we strongly condemn those responsible for firing the missile. To appease the victims, those who are responsible must be brought to justice. Sincere cooperation and efforts by all involved parties are vital in this regard.

The passenger plane crashed in Donetsk Province, which is currently under the control of the country's pro-Russian separatists. They have been engaged in crossfire with the Ukrainian Government in recent months, following the announcement of their secession from the country. This indiscriminate infighting likely resulted in the targeting and fatal crash of Flight MH17.

In an interview with CNN after the incident, Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine, said the disaster was a crime "committed by terrorists" who made use of weaponry from Russia. It is widely believed that a Buk surface-to-air missile was fired, but its point of origin is still unknown. The national security authorities of Ukraine claim that, in the early morning of July 18, one day after Flight MH17 crashed, Ukrainian separatists transported two anti-aircraft missiles from Ukraine into Russia so as to cover any trace of the weapons system.

The Defense Ministry of Russia, however, continues to claim that the Ukrainian military shot down the passenger plane, listing what it calls its six pieces of evidence. These include Flight MH17's slight diversion from its planned flight path, and that the route is within the range of the Ukrainian Government's air defense forces.

The UN Security Council held a conference addressing the situation in Ukraine on July 21, with a resolution severely condemning the perpetrators being unanimously passed. The priority now is understanding what led to the crash: All involved parties should observe the UN resolution; actively cooperate with the investigators; and support "a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines," as outlined in the UN resolution.

Before the truth is established, parties would also be wise not to wrongly criticize one another or rush to conclusions based on limited factual knowledge. Opposing violent conflict and promoting peace should be common goals across all nations in this day and age. In order to honor the victims of Flight MH17 and safeguard international teams in the area, all infighting and military maneuvers should be suspended throughout the investigation. Countries and military, paramilitary, and separatist groups in the region should cooperate fully and truthfully in order to bring the truth to light as quickly as possible. Those responsible must be punished according to international criminal and aviation law precedents, as the world continues to mourn the victims of this unthinkable and unsolved crime.

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