What would happen if it were proven that pro-Russia rebels shot down MH17, that the Kremlin was complicit, and sanctions began to bring down the Russian economy? Gazeta columnist Georgy Bovt forecasts that the situation would be far worse than anything encountered in 1983, when the USSR admitted to downing Korean Airlines Flight 007. Bovt warns that in defense of Russia’s economy and ‘Russian civilization,’ and to avoid suffering the fate of Libya’s former dictator Mohammar Qaddafi, who the Kremlin feels was also toppled in connection with a downed civilian airliner, Russian leaders are already preparing for scenarios that involve nuclear war.
For Gazeta, Georgy Bovt outlines the consequences for Russia first, if it turns out that Ukraine is responsible for the downing of MH17, and second, if it is proven that Russia was behind or complicit with it. From the second section, Bovt writes in part:
VERSION 2. Separatists shot down the plane.
This would be worse for Russia than the downing of the South Korean Boeing was for the USSR. Regardless of how the Buk missiles ended up in the hands of the separatists, this would also strengthen accusations that Moscow has been supplying them with arms. They would no longer be seen as separatists, but terrorists, whose place is not at the negotiating table in Kiev, but at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. That is the best case scenario.
Moscow could also be accused of allowing Russian “volunteers” to help the separatists repair “inoperative” Buk systems. For Russia, that would be a very bad outcome, as there were also Buk missile batteries captured from the Ukrainian military in Crimea, which have since turned up with the separatists.
If this was a game designed to make Kiev more compliant to Moscow by putting rifles into the hands the Girkin-Strelkovist separatists, then that game has played itself out. It has to be taken to a different level, perhaps economic, and projected into the long term. People who brought down a civilian airliner cannot be considered allies, or even aids.
The alternative to such immediate and action and getting ahead of the curve, would be the complete isolation of Russia and the imposition of sanctions,which our economy will survive as long as they don’t extend beyond a one- to three-year horizon. Either way, the effect will in one way or another impact all of us.
Attempts to avoid economic collapse in the country could pull us into a full-scale war, possibly even a nuclear war. That, of course, would mean breaking the pattern of diplomacy and sweeping the pieces from the chessboard. However, from the beginning, I have felt that the threat of total geopolitical defeat, and to all of Russian civilization, which is what this has become, would push us into a corner.
Internally, the current Russian leadership is prepared for this scenario. Least of all because they don’t want to come to the same fate as Mohammar Qaddafi, who found his life ignominiously cut short outside of a sewer pipe. That sad tale began with the Lockerbie case, when two members of the Libyan secret services blew up an American airliner over Scotland. There was a belated admission to the crime and generous compensation was paid, but it didn’t help.
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