Inspectors Finally Arrive at MH17 Crash Site; Ukraine's Rada Capitulates to IMF Austerity Demands
August 1, 2014 • 10:40AM

For the first time on Thursday, international inspectors arrived at the crash site of MH17 in eastern Ukraine, after the Ukrainian government announced a 24-hour ceasefire of shelling in the area immediately around the crash site. As the result of the ceasefire, Dutch and Australian investigators, along with OSCE monitors, were able to put in a full day of work at the site, concentrating on recovering the remaining bodies and beginning the collection of personal items and parts of the plane in order to conduct the in-depth forensic investigation to determine what happened. Russia has sent a team of aviation experts to Kiev to join the investigators, and, in a meeting on Thursday, the Prime Ministers of Malaysia and the Netherlands, Najib Razak and Mark Rutte, agreed that 68 Malaysians would go to the site to assist in the security and investigation. The Ukrainian Rada convened a special session also on Thursday to ratify the Dutch-Ukrainian agreement on the crash investigation mission. At the same time, the Rada rejected Prime Minister Yatsenyuk's resignation and caved in to IMF demands for further austerity, wage cuts, and a 1.5-percent additional tax, referred to as a "military duty" to fund further arming of the Ukrainian military.

The 24-hour ceasefire came as the result of a direct request from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to President Poroshenko.

In a related development, the London Independent reported on Thursday that German Chancellor Merkel has been conducting quiet negotiations with both Ukrainian President Poroshenko and Russian President Putin in pursuit of a global deal that would end the conflict in Ukraine. According to the Independent, elements of the deal would include recognition of Crimea's separation from Ukraine and rejoining of Russia, Russian compensation for Ukraine's loss of revenue from the leasing of the Sevastopol naval base on the Black Sea, a renewed gas deal at an agreed-upon price, and an end to the fighting in the east between separatists and the Ukrainian Army. The talks stopped with the crash of the MH17 flight, but could resume at any time. Although a German government spokesman denied the accuracy of the Independent story, a US source familiar with the behind-the-scenes negotiations said that much of the account was in fact true.