This is the sixth book on the shooting down of Korean Air Line’s flight 007 by a Soviet jet fighter over the Sakhalin peninsular on 1 September 1983.
The Ukrainian government has failed to secure the crash site, as much as 25 square kilometres of territory, where debris from flight MH17 has fallen. The site is in rebel-held eastern Ukraine and the region’s pro-Russian separatists have prevented international observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe from examining it. There are even reports that a drunk separatist gunman fired a warning shot to forestall investigators from conducting their examinations despite assurances from rebel commanders that observers would have safe access to the crash site. While workers from the Ukrainian government’s Emergencies Ministry have searched much of the site, the plane’s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, the so-called ‘black boxes’, have not yet been found. There are reports of locals and militants moving debris and bodies and even saying they will conduct their own autopsies of the victims. Although Ukraine has said it has compelling evidence of Russia’s involvement in the shooting down of the plane, there has been no authoritative investigation, and the chances of there being one recede on every delay and interference with the tragedy’s wreckage. As Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to the United States said, Russia’s obfuscation, part of its ongoing information war in eastern Ukraine, is redolent of its actions following the order for a Soviet fighter to shoot down a Korean passenger jet in 1983. In The Spectator in 1986, Philip Knightley reviewed Seymour Hersh’s ‘The Target Is Destroyed’, an investigation into flight KAL007 which was shot down by a Russian fighter jet. Hersh found that, less than three years after the accident, it was impossible to gather the whole story of the flight. It is becoming increasingly unlikely that we will find out the full details of the shooting down of flight MH17. Here is Knightley’s review, from our archive: