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Swiss media point finger at Moscow over crash

By Simon Bradley,

Ukraine plane crash pic2 (Keystone)

Armed pro-Russian militants pass next to the wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 debris, which crashed during flight over eastern Ukraine


As international investigators head to rebel-held eastern Ukraine to work out what, and who, caused a Malaysian airliner to crash, Swiss newspapers have pointed to Moscow’s responsibility in events. 

“They are also Putin’s dead”, led the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper on Saturday in an article that summed up many other papers’ positions about Russia’s shared responsibility for the escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine.

All 298 people, including 80 children, on board Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, a Boeing 777, were killed in the crash last Thursday. Kiev, pro-Russia separatists and Moscow have accused each other of being responsible for the incident.

US President Barack Obama said on Friday the US believes the plane was felled by a surface-to-air missile launched from an area near the Ukraine-Russia border that is controlled by Kremlin-backed separatists. Obama said the insurgents would not be capable of carrying out such an attack without Moscow's support.

Russia, meanwhile, has expressed anger at implications it was to blame, saying people should not prejudge the outcome of an international inquiry.

"Not a blunder"

The French-speaking Le Temps newspaper, however, stressed Russia’s role in the affair with an editorial titled, “Not a blunder”.

“If separatist rebels have sophisticated equipment and heavy weapons it’s because Russia has supplied them or it has closed its eyes,” it declared. 

“By behaving like a pyromaniac Moscow has sparked an uncontrollable fire. On its side Kiev has not been able to reassure the secessionist minority and put out the fire that was growing.” 

An editorial in the daily 24 Heures newspaper had a similar line: “Russia must be made to reason”. 

“Moscow’s attitude remains so ambiguous that it is unacceptable…today no one can trust the Kremlin, even less its figureheads engaged in fighting,” it said. 

"Turning point"

The Tages-Anzeiger said pressure will likely continue to mount as questions are asked by western governments and media who exactly shot down the plane, where the rockets came from and who trained the shooters. 

“Relations between Russia and the West are at a turning point after the plane crash,” said the paper. “The spiral of escalation will continue."

“The shooting down of the MH17 is a severe moral defeat for the political leadership of the country [Russia]. Hopefully Vladimir Putin will soon realize.”

In a long front page article analysing the crash and the crisis in Ukraine, “The price of indecision”, the NZZ warned that while it was unclear what had caused the crash, with this latest disaster the “Ukraine war had definitely become an international conflict”. 

It wrote: “The Ukrainian President Poroshenko seems to be convinced that he can solve the conflict by military means. He accepts that more and more civilians will be killed. Putin has always maintained he wants to protect Russian people outside Russia. Pushed on the defensive, the insurgents put all their hopes on direct military intervention by Russia. As during the Kosovo war in 1998/99 when Albanian rebels successfully attempted to get NATO to intervene, the separatists are doing everything to get Moscow increasingly involved in the conflict. And they have achieved that.” 

The author of the article said the key to a political solution clearly lay with Russia.

“But as long as Russia is not ready to accept Kiev’s roadmap towards the EU, which also means turning away from Moscow and an emancipation of Russian tutelage, there can be no political solution,” he concluded.


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