Speed Reads

Flight 17

The Malaysia Airlines tragedy shows Putin has 'lost control of the rebels'

The crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 proves that "Russia has lost control of the rebels," argues Julia Ioffe at the New Republic.

U.S. officials claim Russia is the only place from which rebels could have obtained machinery sophisticated enough to down a civilian jetliner. This idea prompted a new round of U.S. sanctions against Russia on Thursday.

The rebels "have been complaining for some time of being abandoned by President Vladimir Putin," Ioffe writes. She speculates that the plane's crash isn't a coincidence:

There is no way that, a day after criticizing the recklessness of American foreign policy, his military shoots down a passenger plane. Rather, it seems that the rebels made a mistake that paints Putin into a corner. Putin hates corners, and when he's backed into one, he tends to lash out. He especially hates to do or say what is expected of him, and to give in to outside pressure. So though he has already expressed his condolences to the Malaysian government, don't expect him to do anything swift or decisive. He will likely do something to punish the rebels after the spotlight moves on to the next global crisis. [New Republic]

Even if the evidence does point to the rebels, it's unclear what the West could do to punish them, or to punish Russia for providing rebels with the capability for violence. "Putin has started something he can't finish, unleashing a dangerous force he no longer fully controls — nor does he seem to care to — and it's costing more and more lives," Ioffe says. Read the rest of her take over at the New Republic.