It sounds familiar somehow—a powerful nation experiencing a horrible death of its citizens and the government immediately tries to point to possible causes other than the obvious.
Here are the quotes from the Washington Post article, which clearly are intended to support President’s Putin’s preferred accident explanation:
- “A Russian airliner carrying more than 200 passengers crashed in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula.”
- “Russian officials announced Saturday that they had opened an investigation for gross negligence and safety violations that may have led to the crash. In a statement, Russia’s Investigative Committee said it was searching the Moscow offices of the airline, Kogalymavia, which flies under the brand Metrojet, and the airline’s facilities at Domodedovo International Airport. Airline employees would be interviewed and the quality of fuel used by Metrojet on its flights would be examined.”
Here are the comments which may, may not, point to a conclusion that ISIS was retaliating to Russia’s intervention in Syria:
- “Egyptian and Russian officials on Saturday denied claims the jihadists shot down the plane, which had climbed to 31,000 feet before plummeting to the ground. Surface-to-air missiles can normally hit aircraft flying below 10,000 feet, analysts say.”
- “Europe’s two largest airlines said they would not fly over Sinai, which is home to a violent Islamist insurgency, until investigators determined the cause of the crash. Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate claimed Saturday that its fighters downed the Airbus A320 to avenge Russian strikes on insurgents in Syria, but the group did not say how they brought down the plane.”
- “Security experts say the militants are known to have surface-to-air missiles that could take out low-flying aircraft.”
The phenomenon of hostile fire bringing down civil aircraft, sadly, is not an unheard of international incident. Russia clearly knew about the MH 17 tragedy and was aware of the risks of flying in airspace over an unstable political conflict.
Not yet mentioned in much of the press or from the talking heads are the following plausible hypotheses:
- Shot down by another aircraft perhaps by an air-to-air missile
- Explosive decompression
- On board bomb detonation
- Total fatigue failure
- TWA 800 fuel cell explosion
So what did Russia know about the Sinai and what did it do or not do with that admonitory information?
The UN organization with jurisdiction over global aviation safety and security is the International Civil Aviation Organization. Under its umbrella of duties, ICAO offers a less-than-ideal website, the purpose of which is to identify “conflict zones.” The following information has been posted there for over six months:
The United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany have also signaled their substantial concerns about the Sinai:
Russia’s lawyers might have carefully read the ICAO disclaimer, which absolves the international body from any and all liability, thus diminishing both its reliability[i] and credibility. Clearly ICAO needs to strengthen its warning, but equally clearly Russia did NOTHING.
There may have been something with the quality of Metrojet’s fuel and the Russian Intergovernmental Aviation Committee has postulated potential issues with A-321s. Either, both and possibly other problems may be the reasons why this plane crashed.
That said, there was no good reason for the Russian government to continue to allow its commercial aircraft to continue to fly over this zone.
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