Despite East Ukraine being a war zone with aerial bombings and anti-aircraft missile fire galore, Malaysian Airlines flight 17 inexplicably flew right into the war zone. Not surprisingly, it was shot down. The government in Kiev is blaming separatists fighters and an audio recording was released by Kiev that claimed to show rebels talking about accidentally shooting down the flight, though the recording is disputed and still not verified. It’s also possible the Ukrainian military shot down the plane, they had at one point recently declared a no-fly zone in the area.
Whether it was the Ukrainian separatists or the Ukrainian government who shot down the plane, no one seems to have an answer as to why flight 17 took such a reckless route. Numerous other airlines avoided the route given that there was fighting in the area that included anti-aircraft missiles. No explanation has been yet offered by Malaysian Airlines.
Many of those who died on the flight, which includes 295 estimated dead at this point, were AIDS experts flying to a conference in Melbourne, Australia. Some estimates claim a third of MH17 passengers were AIDS conference delegates including former International Aids Society President Professor Joep Lange. Lange was instrumental in developing antiviral therapies for AIDS and founded the journal Antiviral Therapy.
While undeniably a tragedy, its unlikely this is a game changer vis a vis the Ukrainian Civil War. The pockets of the east that want to separate still want to and Kiev will still try to force them back into the fold. The US and some members of the EU will still provide weapons to Kiev and Russia will still arm the separatists.
The only real lesson, seemingly already obvious, is to not fly a civilian aircraft into a war zone.