Monday, December 26, 2016

If Terrorism Downed Russian Plane Bound for Syria,Would the Kremlin Admit It?

We don't know what caused yesterday's crash of a Russian military plane, carrying 92 passengers, including one of Russia's most beloved cultural icons --  the Alexandrov Ensemble choir.  All are believed to have perished.  While rescue boats scour the Black Sea for debris and human remains, the official Russian media insists that the plane crash could not have been an act of terrorism. However, the experts disagree.  The  debris field was large, suggesting an explosion. Whatever occurred, happened so quickly, that there were no cockpit communications of mechanical failure before the plane disappeared from radar screens. While the Kremlin has spoken of pilot error, it is less likely given the fact that the plane was being flown by an experienced pilot. And most suggestive of all, Putin had grounded the entire civilian fleet just hours before, because of intelligence warning of a possible terrorist attack.

But what difference does it make, anyway?  This was a human tragedy, whatever the cause.  However, it might turn out to be a political catastrophe for Putin as well, if terrorists did down the plane.  All of a sudden, that macho-man military adventure in Syria, which included the bombing of hospitals and schools in the taking of Aleppo will have, in less than a week, produced a rapidly inflating price tag.  In addition to the tragic loss for the Russian people of this famed choir, their ambassador to Turkey was gunned down by a terrorist just days before.

The Kremlin's ability to generate the kinds of fake news that contributed to Hillary Clinton's electoral loss, bears its own new price tag.  No one believes a word out of Putin's mouth, especially if it appears to cover up a monumental miscalculation on his part.    
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