View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 20 July 2014


I am profoundly saddened by the loss of life in the crash of MH17 over Ukraine. I am horrified that a surface-to-air missile was used to down a civilian airliner, one that, using the right technology, was easily identifiable as such. I am thoroughly disgusted at the behaviour of so-called separatists in eastern Ukraine, who are doing all they can to cover up any Russian involvement - like rocket debris.

However, I am prepared to accept that no Russian government would have sanctioned any such attack in advance. It would have been better for the Moscow government to have publicly distanced itself from the rebels for the time being - yet they continue to back them, by implicating the Ukrainian government in Kiev. The latter is not in control of the area around Donetsk where the plane came down, and can therefore not be responsible.

We have seen the line taken by Vladimir Putin since last March, when he engineered the annexation of Crimea, and his subsequent efforts to destabilise Ukraine. His plans have not gone as he might have anticipated, because he is applying 1980s tactics to the 2010s. The world has changed, and this will change the world a little further. Putin may afford to ignore the anger of the Dutch PM, Mark Rutte. He will, however, not be able to ignore the anger of other European governments, nor that of Australia.

At this time, my thoughts remain with the 298 people who died near Grabovo, Ukraine, their family and friends.