Putin under fire as his bid to play both sides falls flat
Ever since the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down, the pressure has been on Russia – and on President Putin – to admit guilt at least by association, and to do something to remedy the situation. Instead, what the West has heard has been one long denial and attempts by Russia to transfer blame to Kiev.
In judging Russia's response, however, it is important to consider how the present set of circumstances might look from the Kremlin. The downing of a civilian airliner over Ukraine is at least as much of a catastrophe for Russia as for everyone else.
Implicit in much of the Western commentary has been the idea that Putin's Russia had been egging on Ukraine's rebels to produce some macabre "spectacular" and supplying them with the wherewithal to do just that. But Putin is in a difficult position.