International Affairs

Where’s The Love?

Humanity is the inherent passion we feel towards the members of our fellow species. It is supposed to be an emotion that comes to us so naturally that we seldom question its origin and even though it eludes definition, all of us can admit to have felt it at some point of time. But we have repeatedly witnessed instances throughout history where the value of a human life has been reduced to almost nothing. After World War II and the downfall of Nazism and Fascism it was assumed all over the world that civilians would not have to bear the brunt of power politics, but the game never ended. Proxy wars in Afghanistan and Vietnam during the Cold War period saw the sacrificing of civilians to satisfy the egos of the two world superpowers. Recently, another incident has revealed to us that in the face of an angry world titan, human life and dignity are not only easy to forget about but can also be mercilessly sidetracked in order to achieve ulterior goals.

On 17 July 2014 the Malaysian Aircraft 17 crashed in Ukraine close to the Russian border. It had 298 passengers all of whom died in the crash.[1] The plane crashed near Torez in the Donetsk Oblast, 40 km from the Russian border. U.S. agencies are convinced that the airplane was shot down by a missile fired by the pro-Russian rebels operating in the area. Evidence suggests that this missile was supplied to them by Russia. Even after this finding Russia was quick to blame the tragedy on Ukraine, with Vladimir Putin saying that the country in which the mishap occurs is responsible for it. Ukraine on the other hand used the opportunity to lift the curtains on the underhand means that Russia is using to gain control of wider territories by helping the rebels.[2]  And thus, 298 lives were forgotten.

But the problem runs deeper then it seems. The background in which the allegations have been made towards each party suggests that they were made not to merely shirk responsibility but for deeper political motives. Vladimir Putin seems to have made a mission out of conquering territory in order to bring back Russia’s past glory. In the face of the continuing U.S. hegemony Russia might want to fight for a legitimate ‘superpower’ label again. The Russian President started this mission with the occupation of parts of Georgia, going on to annex Crimea. He has also resurrected a term that was previously used for Eastern Ukraine, ‘New Russia’, subtly tagging it his own.[3]

Donetsk, where the airline crashed, is now concentrated with pro-Russian rebels. These rebels had previously captured Crimea, which was then annexed by Russia. The same rebels have now captured key government buildings in Donetsk and the neighboring Luhansk and declared themselves the heads’ of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. The population here feels more of a connection to Russia than Ukraine and there was also a referendum that was held in May, which considered secession from Ukraine.[4] Noting the above facts we cannot refuse that it is in Russia’s key interests to actually support the cause of the rebels.

Other then the above stated motive, other substantial evidence also points towards Russian involvement in the attack. The rebels had been downing Ukrainian military aircrafts for a month before the accident. Right after the accident took place, Igor Girkin, one of the prominent leaders of the rebel group has said to have tweeted about how his colleagues had just downed another military aircraft, but removed the tweet as soon as it was discovered that it was a civilian flight. There is said to be a sprawling Russian military base in Rostov, which is near the site of the crash. Even though Russia had pledged to back out of Ukraine they have been discreetly supplying weapons to the rebels at the base. This supply had also increased in the month before the attack. But Russia was being smart to supply weapons identical to those used in the Ukrainian military to make its involvement less obvious.[5] This coupled with the fact that the rebels took control of the crash site for quite some time before any one was actually allowed to enter, makes a plausible explanation for Russia trying to clear the trail that leads to its discovery.

In the international arena Russia is trying to perpetuate its own version of the story, blaming the Ukrainian government and calling for a special committee to investigate the crash. Even if we consider the fact that the rebels mostly did not intend to bring down a civilian plane, and shot it down by mistake, thinking it to be a Ukrainian military aircraft, it cannot be denied that the callousness showed by them in the aftermath is more than a little shocking. The delivery of bodies and investigation of the crash was also delayed because the rebels did not allow the authorities to access the site.

So we see how a human tragedy is turned into a politically motivated chess board and is dealt with in a manner so impersonal and dispassionate that it completely disregards the victims. Instead of coming forward to help the people who have suffered as a result of their ongoing conflict, Russia and Ukraine have just made it into another opportunity to bring each other down. In the middle of all this politicized drama, we all forget that it was the misfortune of almost 300 hundred people, who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time but had to pay for it with their lives.

About the Author

DSC_0005Karishma Padia

Originally from Mumbai (or as she like to call it ‘Bombay’), Karishma is a second year student of National Law University, Delhi. She enjoys reading fiction, dancing and daydreaming. She hopes to travel the world someday, but for now she prides herself on surviving away from home. She has recently developed a fascination for Political Science and plans to explore the subject further.

Endnotes

[1] Malaysian aircraft crashes near E. Ukraine near Russian border, 298 people on board, July 17 2014 available at

http://rt.com/news/173616-malaysian-crash-ukraine-border/.

[2] Malaysian aircraft crashes on Ukraine-Russia border, available at

https://web.archive.org/web/20140718001608/http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/10974050/Malaysia-Airlines-plane-crashes-on-Ukraine-Russia-border-live.html

[3] Russia’s blame game over Malaysian airlines MH17, 21 July, 2014, available at

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/russia-s-blame-game-over-malaysian-airlines-mh17-1.2712764.

[4] Who are Ukraine’s pro-Russia rebels? , 23 July 2014, available at

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/22/world/europe/ukraine-rebels-explainer/index.html?iid=article_sidebar

[5] U.S. discloses intelligence on downing of Malaysian jet, 22 July, 2014, available at,

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-discloses-intelligence-on-downing-of-malaysian-jet/2014/07/22/b178fe58-11e1-11e4-98ee-daea85133bc9_story.html#

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