The shooting down of Malaysian airlines MH17 has seen the finger of blame going every which way. As the news broke last night, I switched over to RT to see what they were saying. They were trying to put a brave face on it, not say anything controversial. At one point however they started trying to sell the idea that the Malaysian Airlines plane and its livery looks very similar to that of Presidents Putins presidential jet, then started implying that the Ukrainians may have tried to shoot down the plane mistaking it for Putin (who was yesterday in the skies making his way back from Brazil).
Lets pick this one apart for a minute. Given that MH17 was at 33,000 ft, it would have been impossible for a viewer on the ground to see the plane in elevation (thus the colour similarity matters little). From below it an observer would instead note the obvious difference between a 4 engined jet (with thus 4 sets of vapour trails out the rear) like the Russian Presidents IL-96, from a Boeing 777 with its distinctive pair of large turbofan engines. As I listened to RT, I reached over to my book shelf, pulled out my copy of Janes Recognition Guide and flicked between the plan view of the Boeing 777 and Il-96 and thought grade A bull!
Of course given that it was likely a SA-17 Gadfly that downed the plane, its likely the plane was first observed by radar rather than visually, hence the colour of it hardly mattered. The idea that the Ukrainians would start taking random pot shots at aircraft crossing their air space on the off chance that one carried Putin, is of course ludicrous.
But, why are the Russians relying on such feeble conspiracy theories? Well probably because they realise that the evidence does stack up against them and their rebel allies. The rebels were known to be operating just this missile type in the area and to have used it against aircraft recently. The direction of flight of MH17 would have been such that it could have been easily mistaken for an attack aircraft, much like the USS Vincennes mistook an Iranian Air flight for a F-14.
The Russian lady doth protest too much me thinks!
One can only hope that Putins allies now realise who they are supporting, leading to Russias economic isolation and hopefully Putins removal from power.