US Aims at Blowing EU-Russia Rift with Downed Airliner by Finian Cunningham

Amsterdam Airport: Flight MH17 Memorial

Image by Roman Boed via Flickr

Sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who perished. ~ Lo

by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
East Africa
Crossposted from Strategic Culture Foundation
July 20, 2014

The downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17 over eastern Ukraine with the loss of all 298 onboard comes amid mounting frustration between Washington and its European allies over the imposition of further trade sanctions on Russia.

Days before the doomed flight, American officials were quietly voicing their agitation at European leaders’ reluctance to apply sanctions that would hit Russia’s key economic sectors.

While media reports earlier this week suggested that the US and the European Union were adopting a “united front” in the ramping up of penalties on Moscow, the underlying reality was very different. EU leaders were actually telling media that they were not yet ready to go beyond existing sanctions against Russian individuals, by following Washington’s latest measures against Russia’s energy, banking and defence sectors.

Now various Western media pundits are talking of a “game-changer” with the downing of the Malaysian Boeing 777 near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. The flight was most likely hit by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile while cruising at a mid-air altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet).

Perhaps significantly, most of the passengers onboard the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were European nationals, mainly from the Netherlands and Britain, as well as Germany and Belgium. At over 170 passengers, the Dutch contingency was the largest onboard.

Let’s step back a bit. Following the Western-backed illegal coup in Ukraine on February 23, geopolitical tensions escalated further during March when the southern Crimea Peninsula voted in a referendum to join the Russian Federation. Washington and its European allies immediately launched vitriolic attacks on Russian President Vladimir Putin for what they said was “an illegal annexation” of Ukrainian territory. Western media chimed in with lurid claims that Putin was the “new Hitler” and that the Russian leader was trying to resurrect the old Soviet Union.

Initially, Washington and European governments threatened that they would together ratchet up trade sanctions on Russia if Moscow did not hand back Crimea and also if it did not stop (allegedly) stoking other separatist revolts in the Ukraine’s eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.

On March 25 while hosting US President Barack Obama in The Hague, Dutch premier Mark Rutte spoke of a united front.

Rutte told US news channel CNBC:

“It’s difficult to foresee whether he [Russian President Vladimir Putin] will retract from Crimea or not, but I do feel that Russia senses we are serious and we want them to give up the Crimea, and at least prevent this conflict from spiralling to other regions of Ukraine.”

However, since that time there has been a notable divergence between the American and European positions over the Ukraine crisis. Washington has been pushing a more aggressive policy to hit Russian economic sectors, while Europe is reluctant to go beyond the more symbolic sanctions that target Russian individual politicians and businessmen.

With Europe heavily dependent on Russian trade, particularly in the energy sector, European governments soon realised that ratcheting up more aggressive sanctions would inflict serious damage on their own economies far more than the American economy.

Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece and Spain have emerged as some of the main political obstacles in Europe to implementing the American tough line.

Prominent among the European commercial concerns are those of its energy companies. Royal Dutch Shell is one of the most exposed European conglomerates if Western sanctions were to be stepped up further on Russia.

It is notable that within days of the Dutch premier’s seemingly tough stance reported in March, the Chief Executive of Shell, Ben van Beurden, travelled to Moscow in early April to meet Vladimir Putin at the latter’s Moscow residence. The Shell boss reportedly reassured Putin that the energy giant was still proceeding with ambitious plans to expand oil and gas projects in Russia’s far-east “despite Western sanctions”.

Shell is partnered with Russia’s state-owned Gazprom in developing the Sakhalin-2 Project, which is reputed to be one of the world’s biggest oil and gas exploration ventures. In particular, the project is aimed at developing Liquefied Natural Gas for the Japanese and South Korean markets – in direct competition to American commercial interests in its own new LNG industry.

If the EU were to adopt US-led sanctions on Russia’s energy sector, Royal Dutch Shell and other European giants, such as British Petroleum, stand to lose billions of dollars-worth of investments. It can be safely assumed therefore that these companies have been lobbying their respective governments to show restraint on applying sectoral sanctions.

This was clear earlier this week when the White House announced a further round of economic penalties against Russia.

The New York Times reported:

“President Obama escalated sanctions against Russia on Wednesday by targeting a series of large banks and energy and defence firms in what officials described as the most punishing measures to date for Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine.”

But The Times further adds:

“The moves were coordinated with European leaders, who were meeting in Brussels on Wednesday to consider their own package of penalties against Russia. The Europeans declined to go as far as the United States, instead focusing on a plan to block loans for new projects in Russia by European investment and development banks.”

What would it take for the Americans to pull the Europeans into a more aggressive line?

Within hours of the Malaysian airliner smashing into the wheat fields in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday evening, American official sources began drip-feeding their trusted news outlets with a narrative implicating Russia.

On Friday, the Reuters news agency reported:

“One US official said Washington strongly suspected the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 was downed by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile fired by Ukrainian separatists backed by Moscow.”

On the same day, the Wall Street Journal had this:

“US agencies are divided over whether the missile was launched by the Russian military or by pro-Russia separatist rebels, who officials say lack the expertise on their own to bring down a commercial airliner in mid-flight.”

An astounding giveaway in the above Reuters report is the following editorial comment carried in subsequent paragraphs:

“While the West has imposed sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, the United States has been more aggressive than the European Union in this respect. Analysts believe the response of Germany and other European powers to the incident [of the downed airliner] – possibly imposing more sanctions – could be crucial in deciding the next phase of the stand-off with Moscow”.

Officially, Washington has refrained from making explicit accusations against Moscow. That role has been taken up by hot-heads and mavericks like the Senator John McCain and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who both rushed to lay the blame on Russia over the crashed airliner.

The Washington-installed regime in Kiev has also predictably piled on the inflammatory rhetoric accusing Moscow of involvement in the catastrophe without producing a shred of evidence.

The dubiously elected pro-American President Petro Poroshenko immediately labelled “Russian-backed terrorists” as the culprits, while the acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk demanded international action against Moscow.

With typical hysteria, Yatsenyuk said:

“This is a crime against humanity. All red lines have been already crossed. This is the deadline,” he said. “We ask our international partners to call an emergency UN Security Council meeting and to do everything we can to stop this war: a war against Ukraine, a war against Europe, and after these terrorists shot down a Malaysian aircraft, this is the war against the world.”

The CIA-groomed Yatsenyuk added:

“Everyone is to be accountable and responsible. I mean everyone who supports these terrorists, including Russians and the Russian regime”.

The Kiev junta may lack the sophistication of Washington in the finer points of black arts. But it seems clear that there is a concerted effort to frame Russia over this horrendous air disaster. In the stampede to lay the blame, crucial facts are irrelevant or dismissed. What about local eyewitness reports that claim they saw Ukrainian army units fire surface-to-air missiles, or official Russian military sources who say they have radar traces on the ill-fated day also implicating the pro-Kiev forces?

When assessing culpability, it is not only significant to ask the criminologist’s question: who benefits? It is also significant to observe how the political and media reaction to events quickly takes on an unmistakably scripted pre-ordained formula. In this case, there is more than a pungent whiff of premeditated action-reaction dialectic going on.

American geopolitical interests are best served by this atrocity, by shocking a laggardly Europe into adopting its aggressive sanctions towards Russia, even though that militates against European economic concerns. Shooting down a civilian airliner would ensure blowing a decisive rift between Europe and Russia.

Finian Cunningham, is a columnist at Press TV, the Strategic Culture Foundation and a Writer on Dandelion Salad. He can be reached at

see also:

What are You Trying to Hide, Mr Obama? by Finian Cunningham

Will Russia shoot down West’s lies? by Finian Cunningham

Do Not Come To Russia With Sword In Hand by Andre Vltchek

It was Putin’s missile! by Pepe Escobar

The Truth About Ukraine by Tim Gatto

What Happened to the Malaysian Airliner? by Paul Craig Roberts


Downed Airliner: Fake Audio Tape Shows US-Backed Hit to Frame Russia by Finian Cunningham

Finian Cunningham on Crosstalk: Ukrainian Crucible + Michael Hudson: Austerity in Ukraine

Bruce Gagnon and Rick Rozoff: US Plans ‘First Strike’ On Russia + Full Story of Nazi Attack on Odessa + Welcome to Nulandistan

The New Cold War’s Ukraine Gambit by Michael Hudson + Rick Rozoff: CrossTalk: Nulandistan Update

14 thoughts on “US Aims at Blowing EU-Russia Rift with Downed Airliner by Finian Cunningham

  1. Pingback: Passing the Buk by William Bowles | Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: Downed Airliner: Fake Audio Tape Shows US-Backed Hit to Frame Russia by Finian Cunningham | Dandelion Salad

  3. In a new article by Finian, he posts some devastating material. Kiev released a memo claiming to show the Russian side talking about the error they made shooting down the plane. Russian analysis has shown the memo to be faked, which you would expect.

    What is devastating about the memo was that it was faked A DAY EARLIER than the day the plane was shot down. Which means they knew it was going to be shot down the next day. That is why they changed the flight plan.

    The media hysteria of the American mass media may be to cover up the devastating details coming out of the investigation, the media frenzy trying to commit the Europeans before the evidence is widely known. Because there is apparently other evidence as well to be revealed, incriminating the US controlled Kiev regime. So the idea is to EMOTIONALLY blacken Russia before the intellectual understanding is widely distributed. It may or may not work.

  4. I endorse the comments here.

    I would like to add a further perception based on Finian’s measured and judicious analysis.

    This is indeed a pivotal moment. When the privilege of sober reflection allows us to look back and grasp the greater detail, I am sure it will cast into high relief the critical factors that are now reshaping the destiny of our world.

    Hysteria, carnage, ecological extinction and infanticide are the present rule. A pathologically self-destructive rule that may be great for business ~ that is to say, the sick business of tyrants and fanatics who stoke the gluttonous ambitions of demented psychopaths ~ but fatal for mankind and the biosphere.

    We are the conscious witnesses to a supreme era of child sacrifice and lunatic cruelty. These are black arts indeed. Only Obama is no black belt ~ in fact he is falling into an invisible black hole. He and his top-heavy handlers do not really understand the Jujitsu principle of wise strategy. All their vaunted flags are false.

    The fascist neocon project is doomed. It won’t happen over night, but it is destined to fail, like every imperialist tyranny it is certain to suffer the consequences of its own venomous iniquity in the longer term.

    Full spectrum means what it says. All of science; all of opinion; all of truth; all of history; all of human culture…..all of life. It is a futile and stultifying conceit.

    As the veteran Jihadist, Nabil Na’eem Abul Fattah explains in the recent Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV interview now widely circulated ~ a fascinating conversation that exposes the true extent of the State Dept.’s diabolical franchise of fake Islamism ~ America cannot win, because it is fighting geography.

    It is also fighting “itself.”

    We should study and heed the implications of a massive rogue organism in a state of perpetual anarchic mutiny.

  5. Not incidentally, Lo, the great Pepe Escobar has a wonderful article on the plane downing at Asian Times. I don’t know if it would suit your purposes or not, but it should get wide coverage.

    • Thanks, but I already put a link to it at the end of the post. See “see also”. There were several good editorials but didn’t have the time to make a post for each one, so please see the list.

      • Thank you Lo, those additional posts are invaluable. I’ve just read all five, highly commendable.

        Paul Craig Roberts introduces especially suggestive additional perspectives that are deeply thought provoking not to be dismissed summarily, particularly the conjecture surrounding President Putin’s own simultaneous jet path that if indeed reliable adds an acutely significant dimension to this abominable catastrophe that raises urgent and grave issues of now universal proportion.

    • Great article folktruther ~ Pepe Escobar also reminds us

      “…Malaysia, by the way, is the seat of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission, which has found Israel guilty of crimes against humanity…”

      Surprisingly enough BBC Radio 4 News had a sound byte of Ban Ki Moon’s depiction of “Gaza atrocity” this morning; following Al Jazeera yesterday reporting him tweeting from Qatar: “I condemn the atrocity; Israel must exercise self-restraint” #Gaza

      Restraint is not something we tend to anticipate as ever being a plausible Zionist expectation.

  6. Washington cares about Ukraine only to the extent that it can be used to create a new Cold War between Russia and Western Europe. The downing of the plane was most likely a US false flag to get US and EU on the same page against Russia. The plane’s flight path was changed from a safe one over the Sea of Avov to one over the war area, where Kyiv had moved Buk missiles. The change of the flight path and the shooting down of the plane would not have been done without US approval.

    Unfortunately, it appears now that Europeans are almost as amenable to obvious untruth as much as Americans. Is the deceit as legitimated there as it is in the USA? If so, the US can pile in on continuously, making the threat of war among nuclear powers increasingly dangerous. Apparently people don’t want to put themselves in a position of defying the untruth of their power systems. This allows the initial deceit to rule, as it did in the Weapons of Mass Destruction that initiated the Iraq war.

    Hegel said that the only thing that we can learn from history is that people don’t learn anything from history. I disagree, but sometimes I am tempted to think that the arc of history is short and it bends toward lunacy.

  7. Another perceptive article by Finian!

    rayo32: Good post I remember Bush Sr. saying that we (Americans) don’t apologize, after shooting down the commercial aircraft.

    We’ve become even more belligerent and murderous since then.

    Now we have the despicable “axis of evil” ( McCain, Kerry, & Hillary Clinton, along with the White House puppet) spewing their poisonous propaganda for war with Russia. Stay tuned for FTA (fun, travel, & adventure).

    peskyvera: That is precisely what is happening. Edward Bernays would be proud of his students, mentioned above!

    Meanwhile, the dictatorship in Kiev bombs the hell out of southeastern Ukraine with our blessing and financial support, while the newest holocaust is taking place against Palestinians by the zionazis in Israel.

    Russia Today television ( ) has been doing some great (and dangerous) reporting from the Donetsk Region in Ukraine. So many casualties. People leaving by the thousands, seeking refuge in Russia, which is not even reported by western media.

  8. Many years ago, I had a political cartoon portraying the news media as the 5th Horseman of the Apocalypse.

    Watching the American media reporting on this tragic incident, inciting to WWIII/Armageddon, it shows there is some Truth to that old cartoon.

    As hysteria builds, it is incumbent upon the media to remind Americans the US Navy shot down a civilian passenger plane 26 years to this month.But they’re not!!!

    Iran Air Flight 655 was an Iran Air civilian passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai that was shot down by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes on 3 July 1988. The attack took place in Iranian airspace, over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, and on the flight’s usual flight path. The aircraft, an Airbus A300 B2-203, was destroyed by SM-2MR surface-to-air missiles fired from the Vincennes.

    All 290 on board, including 66 children and 16 crew, died

    ‘The Silence of American Hawks About Kiev’s Atrocities’
    by Stephen F. Cohen

    The regime has repeatedly carried out artillery and air attacks on city centers, creating a humanitarian catastrophe—which is all but ignored by the US political-media establishment.

  9. From the very beginning I had this feeling that the US was purposely trying to knock-out the EU, always seeing it as being in the way to US’ world hegemony. An Italian newspaper also asked: why is the US trying to hurt the EU? Divide and conquer? Grasping at anything before finally going under?

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