If Vladimir Putin had personally ordered the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 last week, events could not have played into his hands more perfectly. In fact, the result has been so valuable to Putin, that it seems possible that he did take a calculated risk here and order the missile to be fired at the plane.
It wasn’t just any plane that was shot down. It was the only plane to cross the combat zone that day that was packed with Dutch nationals. On the surface, it would seem that the last thing Putin would want to do would be to create such friction between him and his biggest western trading partner.