In recent days there has been abundant evidence of Russia stepping up supplies of heavy weapons to rebels in eastern Ukraine, including advanced anti-aircraft systems. The Kiev government reported that two of its military aircraft were shot down in the past week, either by separatists, Russian planes or batteries operating from across the border. On Thursday came a greater tragedy: the destruction of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet with 298 people aboard. Ukrainian authorities charged that it had been struck by a missile fired by a Russian-made surface-to-air battery supplied to Moscow's Ukrainian proxies.
If the reports are confirmed, the Ukrainian separatists and their sponsors in Moscow will be responsible for a heinous crime. The United States and its allies must insist that those responsible be held accountable including those in the Kremlin.
Predictably, the Ukrainian rebels were doing their best Thursday to cover up what occurred. They denied shooting down the plane, though the wreckage landed in territory they control. Their commander, a Russian citizen and former military officer named Igor Strelkov, claimed in a blog post published Thursday to have shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane, then removed the message. Russian media joined in the obfuscation, blaming Ukrainian military forces and even suggesting the Malaysian plane was hit by a missile aimed at an aircraft carrying Russian President Vladimir Putin.