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September 25, 2017

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MH17 crisis can be turned into opportunity for peace

Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was brought down as it flew over territory in eastern Ukraine controlled by separatist militia on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur last Thursday. All 289 crew and passengers aboard were killed.

Ukraine accused pro-Russian insurgents of destroying evidence at the crash site of Flight 17. Militia fighters were charged with refusing to hand over "black box" data recorders and inexplicably moving 38 bodies to a morgue in the insurgent-controlled city of Donetsk. Kiev also released recordings of what it said was an intercepted call between an insurgent commander and a Russian intelligence officer as they realize they had shot down a passenger jetliner.

U.S. President Barack Obama and major world leaders are now agreed that the Malaysian jetliner was brought down out of the sky at 10,000 meters by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile fired from rebel-controlled territory. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a joint call for an independent commission to have immediate access to the crash site. They agreed that an international, independent commission under the direction of the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization should quickly have access and so shed light on the circumstances surrounding the crash.

But rebel leader Oleksandr Borodai denied tampering with any evidence, while President Putin blamed the tragedy on Kiev's three-month military operation against the rebels and insisted that its new leaders were solely responsible for security across the whole of Ukraine, including Borodai's Donetsk People's Republic, since its independence in 1991, which has marked the fault line between Russia and the West.

Well, the ICAO investigation may bring the truth to light. Borodai's Russia-backed militia has shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter and another Ukrainian military transport plane since his people's republic was proclaimed in Donetsk in May. Altogether 63 Ukrainian military personnel were killed. If ICAO investigators are allowed access to evidence, they may prove the rebels mistook the Malaysian plane for another Ukrainian military air transport and fired a missile to shoot it down.

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