Before any investigation into the MH17 crash even started, Western politicians and the media were quick to pin the blame for the tragedy on Russia. The parts of the story that do not support the theory seem to have been simply disregarded.
A UN Security Council resolution, unanimously adopted on Monday, urges a "full, thorough and independent international investigation" into the MH17 crash.
But for some it’s already clear who is to blame.
"...this is a direct result of Russia destabilizing a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias and training and arming them," British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote.
"What's happening is really grotesque and it is contrary to everything President Putin and Russia said they would do," US Secretary of State John Kerry said on NBC television.
"Russian-controlled territory, Russian-backed rebels, quite likely a Russian-supplied weapon - Russia can't wash its hands of this," Australian PM Tony Abbott believes.
Western mass media, so sure of the Kremlin’s hand in whatever bad things happen in Ukraine, has lately switched from calling anti-government forces in the east of the country pro-Russian to plainly Russian separatists.
While Russia is being vilified as the country directly involved in the downing of the MH17 plane, the allegations have so far been based on a number of unverified claims rather than on real evidence.
Ukraine claims the missile that hit the plane was launched from territory controlled by the opposition. The West has endorsed this point of view.
“A surface-to-air missile launch was detected from a separatist-controlled area inside eastern Ukraine,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday.
Intelligence expert Charles Shoebridge says no one can be sure of that.
“I think that much of eastern Ukraine is in a fluid situation in terms of who controls what at a given time,” he told RT.
The Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior released a 12-second video of a missile launcher being moved along a road. The video is entitled “Fighters smuggle BUK rocket launcher to the border with Russia.”
No proof has been presented supporting the claim. Meanwhile, some of internet users say they recognize the location as territory that has been under the control of the Ukrainian army for the past two months.
“When you say evidence, this is something that is produced by experts on the ground,” former security consultant at the OSCE Lode Vanoost told RT. “It takes weeks and months, before you can come to any conclusions. Whatever is being said now is just speculation for political motives.”
There has been a lot of speculation that anti-Kiev forces controlling the region, where the plane crashed, have interfered with the investigation and not sealed off the area.
“The separatists are removing evidence from the crash site,” President Obama said.
“The work has been made more difficult by the presence of armed separatists,” stated Cameron.
The anti-government fighters have refuted reports of their meddling with the crash site and in their turn lashed out at international investigators for not coming to the plane crash scene sooner.
“We are interested in the most comprehensive and objective investigation,” said Aleksandr Boroday, PM of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic. “But we don't feel like there is enthusiasm among the international community and experts. Several dozen experts are currently in Kiev. Can they please come here faster? We are surprised and frankly angered that we have to keep the area untouched while we are waiting for them for so long.”
There has been much fuss in the media, concerning the Ukrainian militia obtaining the so-called black boxes from the Malaysian Boeing-777 airliner. Speculation has arisen over whether they would hand the boxes over to Russia.
The anti-government fighters have always insisted the boxes were stored by them to be eventually given to international experts. And they kept their promise: they gave the black boxes to Malaysian experts on Monday.
Ukraine released what it calls an intercepted conversation between anti-government forces in which they allegedly admit to downing the plane. Western media picked up the news, despite lack of independent confirmation on the recording’s authenticity.
The tape has been examined by a leading company who help Moscow police decide how authentic recordings are. Its speech and sound analyst, Nikolay Popov, claims the recording was fabricated.
“It’s been presented as one unedited recording,” Popov said. “In reality this audio file was compiled of several fragments. The time markers are inconsistent at the part where it’s said that the plane was downed by Cossacks. These markers reveal that one fragment was recorded at 16:43, and the second fragment, which comes right afterwards was recorded at 17:15.”
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) alleged that it has proof the self-defense forces in eastern Ukraine received a Buk anti-aircraft missile system, complete with a crew from Russia.
Malaysian flight MH17 “was shot down by a missile from the Buk-M air defense system, which was transferred from the territory of Russia,” said Valentin Nalivaychenko, SBU head, without elaborating on the evidence.
The Russian Defense Ministry dismissed the allegations, saying that neither the Buk missile defense system nor any other military equipment, has crossed the Russian border into Ukraine.
Such border crossings “can’t be performed in secrecy,” the official representative for the Russian Defense Ministry told journalists in Moscow.
Russia says, according to its observations, a Ukrainian Buk anti-aircraft missile battery was operational in the region on the day of the Malaysian airliner’s crash.
The plane was directed by Ukrainian air traffic control to fly 2,000 meters lower than planned. And the aircraft was also guided off its normal path.
“Please note that the plane stayed within the corridor until it reached Donetsk, but then it deviated from the route to the north,” chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Andrey Kartopolov said at a press-conference on Monday.
That leaves one wondering why the plane was advised to take a potentially dangerous route over a territory of on-going military actions.
“What is actually suspicious is that the plane deviated from a route it typically takes, which seems to be now very, very different from the flight just the day before,” Mischa Dohler, Wireless Communications Professor told RT.
What the media was quick to latch onto was a picture of an alleged looter at the crash site. The photo, showing a man holding a toy monkey, caused massive uproar.
Putin supported Ukraine separatist holding a child' toy monkey like a trophy. The family would probably like it back. pic.twitter.com/W6e9vtFW9T
— Michael Alexander (@Wuyelaolaoshi) July 20, 2014
The photo has been retweeted many times, accompanied by angry
comments. The anti-government fighter was described as holding a
child's toy as if it were a trophy.
A full video of the episode, however, shows the man was actually paying tribute to the victims of the crash. Seconds after holding the toy, the man laid it back down, took off his hat, bowed his head and crossed himself.