Category Archives: Australia

Russia vetoes Security Council proposal on MH17 tribunal

From – http://bigstory.ap.org/article/7722d7332cab45c8b8d9bc2d82e0165a/russian-veto-expected-security-council-votes-mh17

Russia on Wednesday vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would set up an international criminal court to prosecute those responsible for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine a year ago.

The foreign ministers of the Netherlands, Australia and Ukraine attended a meeting over the downing that killed all 298 people on board Flight MH17. The countries are among the five nations investigating the incident, along with Malaysia and Belgium.

Ukraine and the West suspect the plane, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was hit by a surface-to-air missile fired by Russian soldiers or Russia-backed separatist rebels on July 17, 2014. Russia denies that, and state media have alleged the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian missile or warplane.

“Russia has callously disregarded the public outcry in the grieving nations,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said, adding that the United States was among the 18 countries that lost citizens in the disaster.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop of Australia, which lost 39 citizens, said, “The veto only compounds the atrocity.” Three countries abstained from the vote: China, Angola and Venezuela, whose ambassador said victims’ suffering shouldn’t be used politically.

Wednesday’s vote followed a last-minute effort to lobby Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has said setting up a tribunal would not make sense while the investigation continued.

The Dutch ambassador to the U.N., Karel van Oosterom, tweeted a statement saying Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Putin that “it was preferable to make a decision about the tribunal before the facts and charges have been established precisely in order to avoid politicizing the prosecution process.”

But the Kremlin quoted Putin as saying a tribunal would be “inexpedient” because Russia still has “a lot of questions” about the investigation to which it had little access.

Russia had offered its own draft that demanded justice for those responsible for the crash without calling for a tribunal. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council after the vote that such a tribunal risked not being impartial and being subject to media “propaganda,” and he called past tribunals for the Rwanda genocide and the violence in the former Yugoslavia “expensive.”

Ministers from the five investigating countries, along with allies in the 15-member council, later stressed that other legal options are available, but some acknowledged that a tribunal established by the council remains the best option. Some indicated they might pursue it again.

“We will very quickly agree on the next step,” Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders told reporters. “I assure you we haven’t lost time.”

The foreign ministers also met Wednesday morning with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called for justice and accountability.

A preliminary report released in the Netherlands last year said the plane had no technical problems in the seconds before it broke up in the sky after being struck by multiple objects — a conclusion that experts said likely pointed to a missile strike.

The investigation led by the Dutch Safety Board aims only to determine the crash cause, not to ascribe blame. The probe is being led by The Netherlands because 196 of the victims were Dutch.

A separate probe by the Dutch national prosecutor’s office aims to establishing who was responsible. This investigation includes authorities from Ukraine, Malaysia and other countries whose nationals were among the victims, but Russia is not a participant.

One possibility that wasn’t discussed Wednesday is the International Criminal Court, which takes on cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide in states that can’t or won’t take on the matter themselves.

Julie Bishop delivers blunt message to Russia on MH17 investigation

From – http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/julie-bishop-delivers-blunt-message-to-russia-on-mh17-investigation-20150728-giltf0.html

It is the toughest diplomatic test Julie Bishop has faced as Foreign Minister – and the next chapter is about to get under way at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Ms Bishop is attempting to convince Vladimir Putin’s Russia and allies to back an independent UN tribunal to prosecute the people who shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

The aim is to set up the tribunal now so it can prosecute whoever is found to be responsible once the Dutch Safety Board investigation finishes in October.

This would mean, in theory, that no person or nation can side-step the blame – and ensure the deaths of 298 people, including 39 Australians, when MH17 was shot out of the sky on July 17, 2014 do not go unpunished.

It’s about bringing the perpetrators to justice.

But it’s a massive task, given it is regarded as all but certain [despite their denials] that it was Russian-backed separatist rebels who fired the deadly Buk surface to air missile while in occupied Ukrainian territory.

And there’s a Putin-sized problem in the way, too.

On the eve of the UN hearing that will decide whether the families who lost loved ones will see justice, Russia and its allies are again being obstructionist.
Ms Bishop had a blunt message for Russia as she arrived in New York early on Tuesday morning, Australian time.

“We cannot allow a veto in the United Nations Security Council to avoid justice,” she said.

“We owe it to the families to pursue those responsible, we owe it to those who are still suffering and grieving over the loss of their loved ones aboard MH17. They will not have closure in their lives until this matter is completed.”

Ms Bishop arrived in New York to lead three more days of intense lobbying and diplomacy, meeting with everyone from Russian UN representative Vitaly Churkin through to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

The crunch vote on the independent criminal tribunal is due in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The Russians are dragging their feet, arguing that although the final report by the joint investigation team is due as soon as October, trying to set up the independent tribunal now is hasty.
Or, as President Putin told Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte recently, it would be ‘premature” and “counterproductive”, and a resolution Russia would oppose.

Ms Bishop said Australia hoped a unanimous resolution to establish the international criminal tribunal would be passed once the crash investigation was finalised.
She dismissed Russia’s concern about undue haste in establishing the tribunal.

“If that were Russia’s concern then I would expect that Russia would abstain, but I will be advocating for a unanimous resolution,” she said, pointing out that resolution 2166 last July, which established the investigation, had been unanimous.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. We owe it to the families and the loved ones of those who died on MH17 to pursue the criminal investigation as soon as possible.
“Any further delay sends a very bad message to the increasing number of non-state actors who are capable of such an atrocity. The international community needs to be utterly united in condemning any attack on civilian airlines in commercial airspace.”

But diplomatic observers say that some of the 10 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council could be swayed by Russia and the five member nations of the joint investigation team – Ukraine, Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia and Belgium – face a tough fight.

Others are more optimistic, though conceding it will be difficult to secure all 15 votes of the permanent and non-permanent members.
In the end, nine votes will do the job.

And the pursuit of justice for the victims of MH17 will continue regardless.

MH17 and Putin’s end

MH17 and Putin’s end

Russian President Vladimir Putin moved closer to the status of international pariah on July 17, 2014.

That’s when, according to an overwhelming body of evidence that has since been uncovered, 298 people on board Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 were killed when it was shot down by a Russian-supplied missile system. Called a Buk, the sophisticated weapon was almost certainly operated by a Russian-trained crew, located in Russian-occupied Donbas.

The Soviet-designed weapon cannot distinguish between military and civilian aircraft. Ukrainian intelligence intercepts of Russian-separatist chatter indicated they were expecting to shoot down an An-26 Ukrainian military transport plane when MH17 appeared in the skies over the areas they held. Based on the positioning of the Buk under the An-26’s expected flight path, and the near immediate social media post by Russian separatist leader Igor Girkin, rejoicing at the downing of the aircraft, it appears the shootdown was a horrendous mistake.

Russia took no responsibility and instead blamed Kyiv. It has since changed its version of events at least five times, but with each of them being promptly debunked both by experts and Bellingcat, a United Kingdom-based group of citizen journalists.

Becoming an outcast (at least in the West) is much less than Putin deserves. As the man ultimately responsible for those 298 deaths, the Kremlin leader should eventually face a United Nations tribunal for his crimes. But he won’t. Russia is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and can veto the measure.

And instead of admitting guilt, Russia has plowed on with its offensive, taking almost 10 percent of Ukraine’s territory and brazenly ignoring commitments it made under the Minsk II peace agreement in February. Moscow has even had the chutzpah to impose its own economic sanctions on Ukraine and the European Union, and to blacklist Western officials.

Putin’s multi-faceted belligerence didn’t stop there.

He has continued to deny that Russia is a party to the war it has instigated, engineered and commanded since it annexed Crimea and invaded the Donbas last spring. More than 6,700 people have been killed and 2.2 million people displaced from their homes, most resettling in Ukraine and the rest abroad, according to data provided by the United Nations.

Billions of dollars of infrastructure, industry and homes have been destroyed by the modern Russian weaponry, logistics and manpower Russia has deployed in eastern Ukraine.

A year on from MH17, the free world must unite and put a stop to the Kremlin dictator and stop denying that the conflict in Ukraine is merely a local affair.

Because if Putin is not stopped, it won’t be just random air passengers who fall victim to the Kremlin’s warmongering. The security of Europe is at stake.

One year later, what do we know about the MH17 tragedy?

From – http://euromaidanpress.com/2015/07/17/infographic-one-year-later-what-do-we-know-about-the-mh17-downing/

On 17 July 2014, the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down above militant-controlled territory in East Ukraine, killing 298 people on board. A Dutch-led joint investigation team is compiling a report on the causes of the tragedy that is to be released in October 2015, but the draft version already sees Russian-backed militants as being responsible for shooting down flight MH17, according to CNN.

Meanwhile, independent investigators have been doing their own research while Russian officials and media have been spawning multiple contradicting versions of events.

Here is a roundup of what we know about the tragedy.

What we know happened

1. The Russian-backed militants had shot down many Ukrainian airplanes and helicopters prior to the MH17 downing. As many as 24 Ukrainian airplanes were shot down by anti-Ukrainian troops between late April-late July 2014.

Russian-backed militants have been shooting down lots of Ukrainian airplanes and helicopters prior to the downing of the Malaysian flight. At least 10 (and, by some estimates, 24) military airplanes and helicopters had been shot down prior to MH17. Just six days after the MH17 crash, on July 23, two more planes were shot down above Ukraine.

2. The plane was shot down with a missile from a Buk anti-aircraft rocket launcher, according to chemical analysis of ammunition fragments.

Chemical analysis of shrapnel collected at the crash site reveals that it came from a Buk missile. These results were endorsed by German rocket scientists and international experts.

3. The militants reported to their Russian superiors on shooting down a passenger plane on July 17. The Ukrainian security service intercepted calls, in which they admitted to aiming for a Ukrainian military airplane but hitting a passenger plane.

Calls intercepted by Ukraine’s Security Service reveal that the Russian-backed militants possessed the Buk that was capable of releasing the missile and were making plans to down more Ukrainian planes.

Another intercept by the Security Service reveals a conversation between a militant involved in shooting down the plane and Kozitsyn, a General of the Russian army. The militant clearly reports to his superior that they shot down a civilian plane.

4. The separatists said they downed an AN-26 plane on July 17 on their social media page. The Russian news outlet LifeNews reported on this, but later deleted it and started claiming that “it was the Ukrainian army”.

A pro-separatist social media page on VKontakte promptly reported shooting down a Ukrainian military plane AN26 on July 17, with the Russian outlet LifeNews reporting on the story. Both the social media post and the news report were removed shortly, and the same LifeNews host announced that it was the Ukrainian military that shot down MH17.

5. The same Buk model that could have released the rocket was seen in the vicinity right before the launch with four rockets. A day later it also seen nearby with only three rockets.

The Buk that could have made the launch was spotted in Donetsk, Zuhres, Torez and Snizhne on July 17 with four rockets, and Luhansk on July 18, but missing one rocket.

6. The rocket launch trail was captured by a photographer in Torez, giving away the launch spot.

A local photographer from Torez captured the rocket trail from the launch of the rocket coming from south of Snizhne, giving away the likely launch spot.

7. The supposed launch spot had signs of a missile launch. The soil was scorched and heavily tracked.

Roland Oliphant, a reporter for The Telegraph, went to the possible rocket launch site south of Snizhne and found that a part of the field was scorched and was heavily tracked.

8. It was a Russian Buk. It came to Ukraine as part of a convoy of the 53d Kursk anti-air brigade.

The Buk can be traced back to Russia. According to the results of investigations by Bellingcat and Correct!v, the Buk was part of a Russian convoy of vehicles of the Russian 53rd Kursk anti-air brigade, which was heading to the Ukrainian border in late June

What we know didn’t happen

Meanwhile, the Russians have been producing multiple stories in an attempt to blame the Ukrainian government for the downing. However, many of them were easily debunked:

9. Mh-17 was not shot down by a Su-25 fighter jet of the Ukrainian military. The Su-25 isn’t capable of doing that.

The Russians claimed that MH-17 was shot down by a Su-25 fighter jet of the Ukrainian military. However, the chief constructor of the Su-25 said it’s not capable of doing that.

10. It was not a Ukrainian Buk. There were no Ukrainian Buks in that area.

Attempting to blame Ukraine for shooting down MH17, the Russian MoD published satellite images that purportedly showed Ukrainian Buks in Zaroshchenske, within the MH17 shooting range. Asrevealed by a bellingcat investigation comparing the images to other available satellite imagery, these images were faked and there were no Ukrainian Buks in Zaroshchenske.

11. There is no way the missile could have been fired from Ukrainian territory. Russian versions that the Ukrainian army shot down MH17 from Zaroshchenske wasn’t controlled by Ukraine on that day.

Zaroshchenske, the alternative to Snizhne launch site where, according to Russian claims, the Ukrainian Buk could have shot down MH17, was actually under militant control on July 2014.

Also, Bellingcat’s sattelite imagery analysis puts pro-Russian positions all around the alleged launch site.

New footage emerges of MH17 crash

From – https://au.news.yahoo.com/nsw/a/28844881/new-footage-emerges-of-mh17-crash/

New video footage has emerged showing Russian-backed rebels arriving at the scene of the MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine, believing they’d shot down a Ukrainian fighter jet.

The footage – which was reportedly filmed by the rebels themselves and released by News Corp Australia – allegedly shows the insurgents dismay as they discover the aircraft is a commercial airliner.

It also shows the rebels rifling through the luggage of passengers and crew.

The rebels discussion is at times disturbing.

“You know how many bodies out there?”one can be heard saying.

A commander can also be heard explaining away the tragedy.

“They say the Sukhoi (Fighter) brought down the civilian plane and ours brought down the fighter.”

The rebels become even more confused as they realise this is a passenger plane.

“It’s confusing. No idea where the Sukhoi is, it’s burning here and there and debris everywhere.”

Once the realisation hits, the rebels sound like they are in cover-up mode.

“Look for the black box everywhere.

“Get rid of the civilians!

“Chink” looking laying around there.

“You see, they are foreigners, Malaysians.”

The search for the black box becomes more frantic.

F***. Passenger plane was f*****.

From the transcripts it sounds like the get one back box but not the other.

“I mean … the two pilots landed on parachutes.”

Five parachutes jumped off this plane. Five people jumped off this plane on the bird site. How to get there?

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told media she was sickened by footage but couldn’t verify the authenticity of the video.

Meanwhile Australia is remembering the victims of the MH17 tragedy a year on.

It has been a year since Russian rebels in the Ukraine shot down the Malaysia airlines passenger plane.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will join friends and family of the 38 Australian citizens and residents who died to unveil a plaque and hold a memorial service at Parliament House on the first anniversary of the disaster on Friday.

“There were 298 innocent people on this aircraft and their deaths offend our sense of justice,” Mr Abbott said before the service.

“On this first anniversary, we restate our support for the families and honour the lives of their loved ones. They will always be remembered.”

The memorial plaque in the gardens of Parliament House is inscribed with the names of the Australian victim

The soil was collected by an Australian Federal Police officer from the area where the Malaysian Airlines plane came down.

All 38 Australians have been formally identified and officials are involved in two separate international investigations.

A final report by the Dutch Safety Board is due to be released in early October.

AUSTRALIANS HELP FOR UKRAINE CRISIS VICTIMS

From – http://www.holroydrotary.org.au/the-ukraine-crisis-appeal.html

Australians are donating to help the victims of violence in eastern Ukraine through a new initiative by the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO) and the Rotary Clubs of Holroyd and Sydney Cove in Sydney, Australia to support the work of Caritas Ukraine.

The Ukraine Crisis Appeal (www.ukrainecrisisappeal.org) has raised $70,000 in its first two months for the emergency humanitarian programs of Caritas Ukraine with Ukraine’s 1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). Today in Kyiv, a symbolic “cheque” was presented by Pete Shmigel, AFUO’s Public Affairs Director, to Andrij Waskowycz, President of Caritas Ukraine.

Mr Shmigel said: “Australians have opened their hearts and are now helping those innocent people who are suffering here in Ukraine. Help is critical in so many ways, be it meeting the basic needs of those people displaced from eastern Ukraine to other parts of the country, or providing medical care for those injured in the conflict imposed by Putin, or helping kids orphaned by the 6000 casualties of the war. A tragedy brought Australia and Ukraine closer together and now emergency support is flowing to build a better future.”

Mr Waskowycz said: “On behalf of the IDPs whom we assist, I thank the Australian community for starting this appeal and now providing its generous support to those being impacted by conflict in Ukraine, a conflict that has also cost innocent Australian lives. According to the UN, some $300 million in aid is needed in Ukraine, and it is heartening that people as far away as Australia are seeking to meet that need.”

Mr Waskowycz said that the first tranche of Australian-raised funds will be allocated to the provision of modern medical equipment to facilities in eastern Ukraine where civilians injured by the conflict are being given treatment.

Mr Shmigel, who will attend official MH17 commemorations in Kyiv later this week, said that the Ukraine Crisis Appeal will aim to raise $1 million, and that this was the first small step in that process.

Incriminating Video, Endless Lies and Putin’s ‘Premature’ Tribunal on MH17

From – http://khpg.org/index.php?id=1437079870

Within minutes of the downing of Malaysian Airline MH17 Russian television and other media reported that the militants in Donbas had downed a Ukrainian military airplane, and even showed the video footage. It was removed later in the evening as Moscow realized all that it had to hide. From then on there have been only lies. Now Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that the tribunal that all countries whose citizens were on that flight, and Ukraine, are calling for is ‘premature’.

Russian commentator Anton Orekh reminds Russian readers of how “each day we shouted from all the screens and tribunes about the Kyiv junta, about the fascists, Bandera-supporters and genocide of Russians in Donbas and how many times the word ‘tribunal’ was heard! Crimes against humanity, war crimes, punitive operations – have you forgotten?”

He recalls that even after MH17 was downed, there were still claims that it was a Ukrainian missile, or even that the plane had been carrying dead bodies as provocation. “Then we also threatened a Nuremberg trial”.

Now, when an international tribunal is a reality, it is Russia that is against. Why, if all the claims made about Kyiv being to blame, etc. are true?

A strange situation, he says, when those supposedly convinced that they are right, those who claim to have the strongest proof and know where to look for the culprits, try with all their might to prevent a tribunal. Those who have the truth on their side would not be afraid, and this, he says, is the best proof of what is clear to everybody. Proof that the Boeing was either downed by Russian soldiers fighting on the side of the separatists, or the separatists themselves believing the plane to be a Ukrainian military transport plane.

“And in Moscow they understand this better than anywhere. But they don’t want to admit it and prefer endless lies. Because this entire war is based totally on lies. From beginning to end.

These fake republics are a lie. And the fascists with Bandera-supporters. And the volunteers in Donbas are a lie. And when they downed the Boeing, nothing else remained but to once again lie. To lie to the bitter [in Russian: triumphant] end. Only there will be no triumphant end in this story. There will be shame, dishonour and hundreds and hundreds more deaths in addition to those 298 who died in the sky over Ukraine.”

There have already been thousands of deaths.

In memory of the 298 people who lost their lives on July 17, 2014, and all those Ukrainians killed before and since, join in a minute’s silence on Friday – and in the calls for an international tribunal to stop the lies and the killing.

From a year ago

The Life News Channel report came shortly before it became clear that it was no Ukrainian military aircraft that had been shot down. The words under the video say: “According to one of the rebels, around 17.30 local time an An-26 flew over the city. A missile hit it, there was an explosion and the plane came down, leaving black smoke. Wreckage fell from the sky”.

The video was removed during the evening, as were many of the reports in other pro-Kremlin media as well.

The screen shot from that video is basically identical to the post on the social media website VKontakte, purportedly from the militant leader, Strelkov [Igor Girkin] boasting of having downed a Ukrainian AN-26. The claims that the post was a fake do not explain why that ‘fake’ was broadcast on Russian television.

They make it entirely clear why the video was removed, it’s called hiding the incriminating evidence.

UN Security Council Members Seek Tribunal to Prosecute Whoever Shot Down MH17

From – https://news.vice.com/article/un-security-council-members-seek-tribunal-to-prosecute-whoever-shot-down-mh17?utm_source=vicenewsfb

Five countries — Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine — have urged the UN Security Council to establish an international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for downing Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine nearly one year ago.

Malaysia, an elected member of the Security Council, has circulated a draft resolution aiming to create such a body. According to diplomats, the five countries, who comprise the so called “Joint Investigation Team” that is focused on the crash, aim to bring the text to a vote by July 21 — exactly one year after the Security Council’s first resolution on MH17.

Four days prior, on July 17 of last year, the Malaysia Airlines flight travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed roughly 25 miles from the Russian border, in Ukraine’s Donetsk region. All 298 passengers and crew, died, including 196 from the Netherlands.

“The establishment of an international criminal tribunal under Chapter VII of the UN Charter for this purpose would send a clear message that the international community will not tolerate acts that threaten international peace and security by endangering civil aviation,” said Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Related: Here’s What You Can Do at Russia’s ‘Military Disneyland’

Following the crash, suspicion immediately fell upon Russian-backed separatists fighting in the Donetsk region. Western governments blamed the Kremlin, which has supported the rebels as they battle the Ukrainian army. A preliminary report released by the Dutch Safety Board in September found that the plane was struck by a “number of high-energy objects.” Western countries and the Ukrainian government say the plane was brought down by a “Buk” surface-to-air missile supplied by Moscow. Russia denies these allegations.

“The logic of the five [Joint Investigation Team] countries is that doing it now around the time of the first anniversary, before the investigation is concluded, allows one to sort of get away from any sense that this is going after one country or person,” said one Council diplomat.

But Russia — that “one country” — has already made clear its displeasure with the proposed tribunal.

“Unfortunately, it seems that this is an attempt to organize a grandiose political show which only damages efforts to find the guilty parties,” Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters last Thursday. Russia is one the Security Council’s five permanent members, and wields a veto.

The July 21 resolution, number 2166, called for “efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident,” and for “all States and actors in the region to cooperate fully in relation to the international investigation of the incident.”

The Dutch Safety Board is expected to release its final report on the incident in October 2015.

Diplomats say the five Security Council members who support the proposed tribunal don’t want to wait until October to approve — or at least try to — a tribunal, particularly if the existing investigation further implicates Russia.

“A tribunal established by the Council would ensure broad international support for prosecutions and would maximise the prospects of securing international cooperation, which will be necessary for an effective prosecution,” said Australian Foreign Minister Bishop.

MH17 anniversary: Russians feel pinch of trade sanctions, continue support for Kremlin one year on

From – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-12/russians-feeling-pinch-of-sanctions-one-year-after-mh17-incident/6614094

It has been nearly a year since relations between the West and Russia plunged to a new post-Cold War low.

After Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, suspicion quickly fell on pro-Russian rebels as the culprits.

The United States, the European Union, Australia and other countries imposed even tougher economic sanctions on Russia.

Walk into any Moscow supermarket, and it won’t take long to see the direct impact those economic sanctions are having on everyday lives.

“Import substitution” is now the norm.

Grapes that used to come from Spain are blocked by EU sanctions. Now they come from South Africa.

Cheese is imported from far-away Argentina now that imports from France and Holland are banned.

There are even rib eye steaks marketed under the banner “Australian Trade House”.
They actually come from New Zealand, which did not join the post-MH17 trade sanctions.

The new flow of goods has not stopped prices from rising dramatically.

The official statistics are difficult to pin down, but most Russians say food prices have at least doubled.

Despite that, there are no widespread rumblings against the Kremlin.

“Now people are quite content with the authorities,” political analyst Andrei Kolesnikov, from the Carnegie Moscow Centre, said.

After all, he said, Mr Putin’s actions in Crimea remain very popular.

Even if there was dissatisfaction over the economy, most people are willing to wait to see if things turn around.

“This is one more reason not to protest,” Mr Kolesnikov said.

“They are really thinking it will be better in a year or two.”

Impact of sanctions felt by most vulnerable

The impact of economic sanctions is being felt far and wide — including by children with cerebral palsy who are assisted by the Artists and Kids Foundation.

Director Irina Sedova said when sanctions hit, “it was like a thunderbolt”.

Before sanctions, the foundation was sending two children per month abroad for therapy not available in Russia.

Some children showed remarkable progress. Several who had been in wheelchairs returned being able to walk.

But all of that has now ended.

“Large companies that were our sponsors stopped helping because they cut off their budgets for charity,” Ms Sedova said.

“I simply just don’t know what to do in such a situation.”

Industry confidence remains

In Chekov, about an hour and a half south of Moscow, cable manufacturer Firmapodiy boasts it can compete with the best in Europe, but orders have fallen sharply.

Owner Alexander Poyarkov says he can beat sanctions.

His said his company had invested $2 million in a new and innovative optical electronic measuring device, which he was confident he could get to markets in Europe and America, despite sanctions.

“I know the Western mentality quite well,” he said.

“If something is profitable for them, they will take it despite any sanctions.”

The general resilience in the face of sanctions, and the ongoing popularity of Kremlin policies in Ukraine, means this week’s anniversary of the downing of MH 17 is likely to pass without much fanfare.

Mr Kolesnikov said most people just do not want to think about it.

“They’re trying to forget,” he said.

“This is a compensation reaction to this really catastrophic event. Because of that, I don’t think the [anniversary] is something significant for people.”