July 2014

Daily Mail report re shoot-down of MH17

Michael commenting on the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17 over Ukraine:

Planes in war zones too common: Ware


03:22 EST, 18 July 2014 | UPDATED: 03:22 EST, 18 July 2014

Veteran Australian war correspondent Michael Ware says the MH17 disaster has elevated the crisis between Russia and Ukraine to a potentially explosive level.

With East-West tensions already heightened due to Moscow's annexation of Crimea, Ware believes the next few days are critical, and although the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines jet was likely a tragic accident, he says it has undoubtedly raised the stakes.

"The situation in the Ukraine is (now) a potentially explosive tinderbox - politically, economically and of course militarily," Ware told AAP on Friday.

"The downing of this aircraft heightens the tensions that already exist. There can be no room for error in somewhere like the Ukraine, and here we have seen error unfold.

Ware said the attack on the jet squarely increases pressure on Moscow to rein in pro-Russian paramilitaries.

"I think a lot of people will be pointing to the Russian military," he said.

"It's incidents like this that are always laden with the potential to further unravel these hypercharged environments."

Ware, a former CNN and Time reporter who has experienced the worst of war coverage including being captured by al-Qaeda, says he is generally surprised there isn't more collateral damage.

"This is a sad reality of where the commercial imperative collides with war. It's still economically attractive to airlines to continue flying over war zones. It's simply a matter of cost and reducing fuel," Ware said.

"Alas that is what happened here.

Ware said Jordanian Airlines and Iraqi Air both operated ceaselessly over Iraq at the height of its conflict.

However, the difference in Ukraine on Friday morning was the weapons system in play - the Buk Missile Launcher.

"At an altitude that an airliner usually flies they are safe from many surface-to-air systems," Ware said.

"It's not a common situation where we have weapons systems like this available in an active war zone, particularly to non-state actors like the pro-Russian paramilitary, operating in parts of the Ukraine.

"In places like Afghanistan and Iraq for example, there is the use of surface-to-air missiles but they're a much smaller weapons system, that is most often man-carried and launched from the shoulder.

"It's most unusual we have a situation in a former Soviet State where you have the availability of a weapons system like this, that can reach into the clouds and touch an aircraft at this kind of altitude. So it is unique in that sense."