If you’ve been following Russia’s responses to accusations of their involvement in the Ukrainian conflict, responsibility for the downing of MH17, and even the recent shelling of Mariupol, you already know their standard response is to claim that they haven’t seen any evidence from their accusers. They call for “objective investigations” by the OSCE, and then ignore the results when they point to Russia or its proxies. This is all rather curious seeing as how much of the evidence in all these cases has been widely available.
Obviously Russian officials like foreign minister Sergei Lavrov look ridiculous when they’re constantly claiming that they haven’t seen any evidence that has been widely available for months in some cases. The worst thing, however, is that this it totally unnecessary.They have a way out. While proving a negative usually impossible, Russia can provide concrete evidence to exonerate herself in many of these claims. Why continue being a laughing stock when Russia could easily shut up its accusers by answering some of the following points?
1. Russia claims that it is not supporting the rebels militarily and logistically. The rebels supposedly got their arms and ammunition from Ukrainian army and police stocks. This is quite fortunate because Russia must have had intelligence about Ukrainian army deployments for years, meaning it should be possible to point out exactly which bases and depots the rebels raided and what kind of equipment they took. Obviously we cannot account for every single round possessed by the Ukrainian military and police, but with sufficient data on the bases and what Ukrainian units were deployed there, we could at least make some estimates. We could certainly correlate reports of artillery barrages from the rebels and make estimates about how many shells they have expended.
2. Supposedly a number of Russian servicemen have died in mysterious training accidents, which curiously occurred around the same time that major fighting was taking place in Ukraine. Russia could launch investigations into these training accidents, revealing their circumstances to the world. Surely the mothers of those dead soldiers would like to see some negligent officer held responsible for the rapid explosion of lethal training accidents within a short amount of time.
3. Russia could turn over any data they might have which supposedly supports any of their five or six alternate hypotheses about Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 to international investigators.
4. In the name of transparency, Russia could ask the DNR and LNR leaders to reveal the source of all their funding and explain how they managed to get so many flags, t-shirts, professionally designed banners, websites, etc. set up within such a short time. Perhaps they could also explain how they’ve managed to launch recent offensives without receiving new arms, ammunition, rations, etc. from Russia. If they are receiving these things via another country, they can make that known, thus exonerating Russia.
Perhaps none of these wold constitute a smoking gun, but they would do much to improve Russia’s reputation and make the country’s leaders look far more dignified on the world stage. How about it, Mr. Lavrov?