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Sunday, 27 July 2014

The MH17 and the Ukrainian – Russian conflict: the sad and bitter end of the Malaysian Airlines plane put this brooding conflict definitely in the spotlights.

Just like everybody else in The Netherlands, I was sad, shocked and overcome when I learned about the terrible fate of Malaysian Airways plane MH17: (almost certainly) being shot by a SAM-missile in mid-air, leaving 298 passengers and air personnel dead on the spot.

The outrageous loss of life and the heartbreaking sadness of the people left behind, could be felt all over The Netherlands and far, far beyond. And to make things even worse – as if that were possible – there is the severe loss of life among some of the smartest scientists, participating in the worldwide battle against AIDS. This terrible loss of so many briljant scientists will undoubtedly have a large impact on the battle against this fierce – and outside the Western World still deadly – disease.

For me, this attack on MH17 had also a slightly more personal component, although I did not know any of the victims involved.

We – as a family – have strings attached with both Russia and the Ukraine, as we have family, dear friends and acquaintances, who are either living or working in both countries. Besides that,  I am of course a proud Dutch: proud of my society and proud of the values that it represents, without closing my eyes for the few dark sides of it. Therefore the whole situation with the MH17 made me more sad and worried than I can tell you, my dear readers.

And above all, we (i.e. I and my loved ones) want to know the truth about what exactly happened during these terrible events in the Ukrainian Donbass region: not the pre-fabricated bitesize chunks of facts, fiction, false accusations and propaganda that all parties in this battle seem to propagate as undeniable facts, but the whole – open and harsh – truth.  

If there is one thing that is emphasized by this tragedy – and as a matter of fact by all the other terrible wars in the Middle East (Gaza, Syria, Iraq,…) – it is that the combination of the economic crisis, the surge in aggressive, dangerous nationalism, the ubiquitous religious outbursts and the economic inequality within regions, countries and societies, has delivered an explosive cocktail that only needs the smallest spark to create havoc in countries and regions.

And now – as a consequence of the irreversible incident with the MH17 – Ukraine, Russia and the West itself are in a very dangerous and increasingly uncontrollable stalemate: the governments of both Russia and the Ukraine, as well as the Russian separatists, have all the reasons to stick with their side of the story and accuse the other party – justifiably or not – for all the warcrimes and damage done, while totally downplaying their own role in the conflict: IT. WAS. NOT. OUR. FAULT. PERIOD!

Putin wants to remain the tough, well-respected and feared leader in his own country –notwithstanding the untolerable stench of corruption and nepotism surrounding him and in spite of all the economic countermeasures taken against his government – and therefore bangs the nationalist drum on an unprecedented scale, while making a total joke of the truth. Seemingly, Crimea was only the beginning of his dangerous Grand-Russia concept. Although it is extremely improbable that the button of the deadly missile against the MH17 has been pushed under his authority, his role in the prelude to this event has been undeniable.

The Ukrainian leadership want to move their country (i.e. the whole country) towards NATO and EU membership as soon as possible, in order to definitely wave the times of communism goodbye and build a line of defence against ‘Mother’ Russia. However, they are confronted with an all out civil war in the Eastern territory of the country, where the Russian separatists are fighting for independents republics, which would or would not (re)connect with the Russian republic.

The Western leadership itself is dazed and confused: where the Anglosaxon countries United Kingdom and the United States scream for more and tougher economic and politicial measures against Russia, the continental countries in Europe count their blessings, in spite of their heartfelt anger and shockedness, and follow a cautious political approach against the country.

Losing a large country as Russia as a customer or supplier would simply be too much for France, Germany, The Netherlands and other continental European countries. These countries maintain their large web of economic interests in Russia and are dependent on it: for instance for their energy supply and large amounts of exports.

It is not easy to stand tough and call for a boycott, when you just finished a €1.5 billion battle ship for the Russians (France), when some of the largest car manufacturers in the world are breathing in your neck (Germany) or when you are very dependent on Russian gas for heating and energy (Italy).

Still, among all unavoidable questions about who pushed the button of the devastating missile (probably: the Russian separatists in Ukraine) and who delivered this very missile (probably: the Russians), there is the ultimate need to contain the situation. Irrespective of how weak and cowardous this perhaps might sound: this Ukrainian – Russian conflict must be contained and solved, without letting it get out of hand.  

Both the First and Second World War have proven beyond reasonable doubt how dangerous it is to let a conflict get out of hand in Europe: either by looking the other way (WW II) or by overreacting to it (WW I).

The European Union has the obligation to find the truth with respect to this terrible accident, with its devastating consequences. However, it also has the obligation to contain the extremely dangerous Eastern / Western conflict that is brooding here. A conflict that has been put on the map definitely, by the devastating strike upon the MH17.

This means a cautious and elaborate choice between the British / American gung ho approach against Russia and the somewhat cowardous ‘trade before everything’ approach of especially French président François Hollande and Bundezkanzler Angela Merkel.

When this extremely dangerous conflict is not contained soon, with an acceptable solution for all parties involved, it could easily grow into a World War. Especially, when an ‘all out war’ seems “the only way out” for (for instance) the intelligent and learned, but extremely vain and egoistical streetfighter Vladimir Putin, who might not stop at sacrificing thousands (millions(?)) of Russians to keep his ‘organization’ afloat. 

Creating the next World War on European soil could become the end for the whole humanity: that is something upon which there should be little doubt.

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