Social media posts by pro-Russian insurgents — most of them hastily removed — suggest the rebels thought they had shot down a Ukrainian army plane before realising in horror that it was in fact a packed Malaysian airliner.
The Twitter and blog messages were immediately publicised by top Kiev officials in their furious information war with the Kremlin for global opinion and the hearts and minds of ethnic Russians caught in the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War.
Confirmation of separatist fighters killing 298 passengers and crew on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur would further complicate Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to paint their uprising as a fight for self-determination.
Russia’s state media avoided any mention of the controversial posts and instead reported militia leaders’ later charges that the Ukrainian air force had shot down the Boeing 777 liner instead.
There is, of course, a great deal more to learn about this story, but the indications are strong that Russian separatists were behind the downing. And of course, given that the separatist movement in Ukraine would not be possible without Russian backing and support, Moscow–and the Putin regime–very likely has blood on its hands.
Back in March, when Vladimir Putin’s Russia was rearing its increasingly antagonistic head, supporters of Mitt Romney saw a measure of vindication. Russia, it seemed, had become the United States’ No. 1 geopolitical foe — the same distinction Romney claimed for it in 2012 (and President Obama scoffed at). Well, here we are, four months later, and we finally have some good data to evaluate that claim.
And we can say that, at least for now, the American people agree with Mitt Romney (pretty much).
According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, Americans see Russia as the No. 1 future threat to the United States.
Twenty-three percent of Americans give that distinction to Russia, while 19 percent say it’s China and 16 percent say it’s Iran. (Just 7 percent cite North Korea.)
Sometimes, public opinion gets it very, very wrong. In this case, public opinion gets it quite right. Maybe Team Obama will take notice and acknowledge as much . . . one of these days.