BBG Watch Commentary
VOICE OF AMERICA NEWS: “Ukrainian officials have further inflamed the rhetoric over the downing of the Malaysian airliner, claiming that a Russian crew was operating the anti-aircraft system that was allegedly used.”
With editorial direction and oversight almost nonexistent these days at the mismanaged Voice of America, more and more often some VOA news reports sound like pro-Kremlin editorials. The latest example of such inappropriate editorializing by Voice of America in its news reporting — which by the way almost always favors the Kremlin and its propaganda line — was noted by World Media Watch.
U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America has accused Ukrainian government officials of inflaming the rhetoric over the downing of the Malaysian airliner. The VOA editorial comment would make a perfect headline for Russia’s RT or Voice of Russia. These Putin’s propaganda media outlets would be foolish not to report that even U.S. government-funded Voice of America believes that Ukraine officials in Kyiv are guilty of inflaming the rhetoric over the downing of the Malaysian airliner with presumably false accusations.
Voice of America did not accuse President Putin of inflaming the rhetoric when he blamed the Ukrainian government for the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Putin said that the state [Ukraine] bears some responsibility for fighting that may have led to the jet’s apparent downing by a surface-to-air missile. Putin failed to mention his own support for the rebels and Russian supplies of arms, advisors and agents to the rebel forces. VOA also did not refer to the looting of the crash site and disrespectful handling of the bodies of the victims by the pro-Russian rebels as inflaming the rhetoric.
It is interesting, therefore, that VOA would immediately label a statement by Ukrainian officials that a Russian crew was operating the anti-aircraft system that was allegedly used to shoot down the plane as “inflaming the rhetoric” without providing any evidence that the Ukrainian statement was in any way false, misleading and designed to inflame international tensions.
Voice of America should have also accused the U.S. government of inflaming the rhetoric for this U.S. statement:
United States Assessment of the Downing of Flight MH17 and its Aftermath: “We also have information indicating that Russia is providing training to separatist fighters at a facility in southwest Russia, and this effort included training on air defense systems.”
And it is indeed intriguing that VOA frequently cites Russian propaganda points as perfectly valid news and even promotes them, but it is quick to dismiss as rhetoric statements from the Ukrainian government that sound reasonable and may very well be true. VOA even posted a map showing Crimea to be part of Russia. The map was later corrected.
While the rest of the VOA report was straightforward, the introduction gave it a strong anti-Ukrainian flavor.
‘Anger and Sadness in Kyiv, as Rhetoric Rises’ | VOA editorializes, accusing Ukraine of inflaming rhetoric | World Media Watch reports
Anger and Sadness in Kyiv, as Rhetoric Rises | Voice of America
“Ukrainian officials have further inflamed the rhetoric over the downing of the Malaysian airliner, claiming that a Russian crew was operating the anti-aircraft system that was allegedly used,” [Emphasis added] Voice of America editorialized in reporting this news. “The accusation comes in an atmosphere of both sadness and anger,” VOA report says further.
ALSO READ: U.S. BBG pays for faulty, favoring Kremlin propaganda poll in Russia-annexed Crimea, BBG Watch, June 16, 2014.
While this official U.S. statement does not fully support a claim by Ukrainian officials that a Russian crew operated the missile system that shut down the airliner, which Voice of America dismissed as inflammatory rhetoric, the U.S. statement says that “Russia is providing training to separatist fighters at a facility in southwest Russia, and this effort included training on air defense systems.” That Russian trainers traveled with the missile to Ukraine and helped with its operation would hardly be an unreasonable assumption.
United States Assessment of the Downing of Flight MH17 and its Aftermath
We assess that Flight MH17 was likely downed by a SA-11 surface-to-air missile from separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine. We base this judgment on several factors.
Over the past month, we have detected an increasing amount of heavy weaponry to separatist fighters crossing the border from Russia into Ukraine. Last weekend, Russia sent a convoy of military equipment with up to 150 vehicles including tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery, and multiple rocket launchers to the separatist. We also have information indicating that Russia is providing training to separatist fighters at a facility in southwest Russia, and this effort included training on air defense systems.
Pro-Russian separatist fighters have demonstrated proficiency with surface-to-air missile systems and have downed more than a dozen aircraft over the past few months, including two large transport aircraft.
At the time that flight MH17 dropped out of contact, we detected a surface-to-air missile (SAM) launch from a separatist-controlled area in southeastern Ukraine. We believe this missile was an SA-11.
Intercepts of separatist communications posted on YouTube by the Ukrainian government indicate the separatists were in possession of a SA-11 system as early as Monday July 14th. In the intercepts, the separatists made repeated references to having and repositioning Buk (SA-11) systems.
Social media postings on Thursday show an SA-11 system traveling through the separatist-controlled towns of Torez and Snizhne, near the crash site and assessed location of the SAM launch. From this location, the SA-11 has the range and altitude capability to have shot down flight MH17.
Ukraine also operates SA-11 systems, but we are confident no Ukrainian air defense systems were within range of the crash. Ukrainian forces have also not fired a single surface-to-air missile during the conflict, despite often complaining about violations of their airspace by Russian military aircraft.
Shortly after the crash, separatists – including the self-proclaimed “Defense Minister” of the Donetsk People’s Republic Igor Strelkov – claimed responsibility for shooting down a military transport plane on social media.
In an intercepted conversation that has been widely posted on the internet, a known-separatist leader tells another person that a separatist faction downed the aircraft. After it became evident that the plane was a civilian airliner, separatists deleted social media posts boasting about shooting down a plane and possessing a Buk (SA-11) SAM system.
Audio data provided to the press by the Ukrainian security service was evaluated by Intelligence Community analysts who confirmed these were authentic conversations between known separatist leaders, based on comparing the Ukraine-released internet audio to recordings of known separatists.
Video posted on social media yesterday show an SA-11 on a transporter traveling through the Krasnodon are back to Russia. The video indicated the system was missing at least one missile, suggesting it had conducted a launch.
Events on the ground at the crash site clearly demonstrate that separatists are in full control of the area.