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What The MH17 Crash Could Mean For Ukraine's Conflict

The tragic crash of MH17 could have massive international consequences, especially for the conflicted eastern regions of Ukraine.
Posted at 8:45 PM, Jul 17, 2014

The world is still reeling from the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, and the deaths of the almost 300 people on board. Although many of the details are still unknown, the fallout from this tragedy will likely be massive.

​Flight MH17 disappeared Thursday at an altitude of 10,000 feet over Ukraine en route to Kuala Lampur. The plane's wreckage was later discovered near the contested city of Donetsk. All 280 passengers and 15 crew members are believed to be dead. (Via YouTube / PainkillerBOHНовороссия Новоросы)

Both the U.S. and Ukraine claim the airliner was shot down by a ground-to-air missile. Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko labeled the incident a "terrorist act" and promised a full investigation.

That investigation could potentially sway the three-month-long armed conflict between the Ukrainian government and the pro-Russian separatists. If either side is found responsible, it will face international condemnation.

Unsurprisingly, both sides have denied responsibility and accused their opponents of shooting down the plane. So far, there's little hard evidence to back up any of these accusations. (Via Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, ITAR-TASS)

The tragedy could also further sour relations between the West and Russia, which have already been severely weakened. Just Wednesday, the E.U. and U.S. hit Russia with another round of economic sanctions over its role in the conflict.

There's already Western speculation that Russia might be to blame for the crash. President Obama mentioned that "Russia is significantly increasing the provision of heavy weapons to separatists in Ukraine" during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday. (Via The White House)

The American media is taking things a step further.

SHEPARD SMITH: "This time his lies won't fly. This time, if Vladimir Putin is responsible, the world will know." (Via Fox News)

"This is really the consequence of a criminally-minded regime in the Kremlin that is indiscriminately providing totally irresponsible proxies with highly sophisticated munitions." (Via The Wall Street Journal)

But Putin is pushing back against those accusations. In a Kremlin statement, the Russian President said "This tragedy would not have occurred if there were peace in that country. ... The government over whose territory it occurred is responsible for this terrible tragedy."

And Russian media has their own narrative for the crash: state-run RT suggests Flight M17 was shot down by Ukrainian forces who mistook the plane for Putin's jet. That's based on the fact that both flights occasionally use the same route and look kind of similar.

Multiple international investigations into the crash are underway. Ukraine's rebel forces say they've found the black box of the lost plane, and are currently discussing a possible three day cease-fire so investigators can get to the wreckage.