November 1, 2016 -
By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ - translated by J. Arnoldski -
On November 1st, Sputnik Belarus published the scandalous transcript of talks between the crew of a Belavia Belarusian Airlines plane and Ukrainian dispatchers. On October 22nd, a civilian aircraft of Belavia Belarusian Airlines flew from the Zhulyany Airport near Kiev to Minsk. When the plane was 50 km away from the Belarusian border, the plane’s crew received a message from the Zhulyany airport’s dispatch service demanding that they immediately return to the point of departure. The dispatcher stated that, if the plane failed to comply with the demands, fighter jets would be sent. The Ukrainian dispatcher said: “For failure to comply, military aircraft will be sent up to intercept you.”
In so doing, Kiev authorities almost repeated the tragedy of the Malaysian Boeing shot down over Ukrainian airspace on July 14th, 2014. Not even that was the first time. On October 4th, 2001, Ukrainian air defenses shot down a Tu-154 Russian civilian plane flying from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk over the Black Sea, killing all 78 people on board.
Ukraine has a rich experience of destroying civilian aircraft. In fairness, however, the shooting down of the Tu-154 in 2001 was not a malicious act by Ukraine, but a tragedy brought on by the astonishing incompetence and unprofessionalism of Ukrainian soldiers. The Russian airliner was shot down by mistake during Ukrainian air defense exercises.
Nevertheless, the events of 2001 and 2014 have one thing in common: the Kiev authorities’ complete irresponsibility. It’s difficult to say what guided Ukraine to direct the Malaysian Boeing’s route over Ukrainian territory where active combat operations were raging. This was either a conscious act in which Ukrainian air defenses or air forces shot down a civilian plane in order to then blame the militias of Donbass, or a purposeful arrangement of conditions for the plane to be shot down by the militia. In any case, there is no doubt that Kiev is guilty, even if we put aside the very reasonable theory that the Boeing was shot down in the air by a Ukrainian air force aircraft.
Just like in the case of the Malaysian Boeing, Ukraine categorically denied its guilt for the catastrophe of 2001. Ukraine refused to compensate the material and moral damage to Siberia Airlines, to which the Tu-154 belonged, and the families of those killed.
There is also much that is unclear with the incident on October 22nd. What did Ukraine hope to achieve with such a gesture? The official version of Ukraine’s SBU counter-intelligence, as is known, says that there was a suspicious person onboard the Belarusian plane, but just who is not specified. This version is not serious. Literally an hour after landing at the airport in Minsk, another flight from Kiev landed with a passenger of interest to the SBU. But he was not even interrogated!
Given the absence of reliable information, it is possible to construct arbitrary assumptions. But none contribute to increasing confidence in Ukraine, which increasingly resembles a child playing with matches or a monkey with a grenade.
Perhaps the explanation for such strange and aggressive behavior by the Ukrainian side should be sought not onboard the Belavia flight, but in the offices of Ukrainian officials and politicians.
Kiev is displeased by official Minsk’s policies. In August, Belarusian territory hosted joint exercises for the paratroopers of CSTO countries, including, of course, Russia. In November, Serbia, Russia, and Belarus will also hold joint paratrooper exercises in Serbia, codenamed “Slavic Brotherhood 2016.” In terms of military cooperation, Belarus continues to be a member of the Union State with Russia, which does not please the current Kiev regime. According to some reports, many Belarusians are fighting in Donbass on both sides of the barricades and there are two times more Belarusian volunteers supporting the Donbass republics than there are Belarusian neo-Nazis fighting in the ranks of Ukrainian battalions.
The list of Ukraine’s dissatisfactions with its Belarusian neighbor goes on. Can we assume that the threat to use violence up to opening fire on a civilian airliner is an act of intimidation or coercion? In such a case, Ukraine would be making it clear to Minsk that it will resort to extreme means if Belarus continues to pursue a pro-Russian military-political course.
This theory is, frankly, unprovable and perhaps erroneous. But it at least allows one to explain the actions of the Ukrainian side for which the Ukrainians themselves have no logical explanation to offer.
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