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. The accusation comes in an atmosphere of both sadness and anger.
On Independence Square, the center of the revolution that ousted the pro-Russian president in February, people still come to pay tribute to more than 100 of their fellow citizens who were killed by security forces.
But their minds are also on the Malaysian plane and its passengers, and the impact the attack will have on the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
Ulyana, a pediatric surgeon, said, “The attitude toward Russia will change. There should be some more concrete and tactical actions, harsh steps, against Russia. We can’t just close our eyes and just say, ‘Well, people died and we’re really sorry.’ And we cry and carry flowers. There have to be actions against the one who is responsible for this tragedy.”
And for people here, that is Russia, and the separatists it backs in the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.
Oleksander, a utility worker, said, “It’s a tragedy. The Donetsk people are mostly to blame. They played around like they were a democracy, like they were a power like Russia. Now they understand there is nothing good about it.”
Lydia, a retiree, said, “What happened, it’s a big tragedy, I’m so sorry for the people who were killed. We really want the guilty to be punished.”
Although remnants of the tent city that was the heart of the revolution remain, life in Kyiv has been largely normal, seemingly a world apart from the east, where there is daily fighting.
Ukraine’s government says it has made progress against the separatists, pushing them back from much of the area, indicated in beige, that they controlled two months ago.
But at Kyiv’s International Center for Policy Studies, Iaroslav Kovalchuk says neither those gains nor the global furor over the downing of the airliner will change Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic calculation.
“I think his primary goal is to keep destabilization in Ukraine as long as possible. Of course, he did not expect this plane crash to happen, but he will continue pursuing this goal because he went too far already,” he said.
Kovalchuk said that as long as Russia is involved, Ukraine’s new government will not be able to end the separatist rebellion in the east. And as normal as Kyiv appears, a long-term conflict will make it difficult for the government to implement its plans for reforms and a transition to a more West European type of society.
(Screenshot from voanews)