Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, downed by pro-Russian rebels? Bah. Try the Ukrainian military, who mistook it for Putin's presidential plane, or mysterious forces who packed it with corpses and exploded it in the sky. Or whatever. In Russia, Flight 17 conspiracy theories are common on Kremlin-owned or -managed TV channels, Julia Ioffe writes at the New Republic. Russia's version of events "is very different from that on screens in much of the rest of the world, and the discrepancy does not bode well for a sane resolution to this stand-off," she writes. In short, Russians can't believe that their own comrades could have done this.
Obviously the West is "trying to pin it on Russia" unfairly, writes Ioffe, or it's "all part of a nefarious conspiracy to drag Russia into an apocalyptic war with the West." What's more, the media is hyping matters by using Soviet-era crisis words like "traitors" and "fascists" that hark back to a traumatic 20th century. The result: Putin is politically cornered by the very propaganda machine he created (see David Remnick's New Yorker piece for more on that). "None of this looks very good for the West," writes Ioffe, because Putin can't back down if his supporters don't see the disaster "as a game-changer or as anything that should force Russia to end this game."