For all the certainty that has attended Western vilification of Putin – and UK news-stands on Saturday and Sunday Russia showed barely one front-page that did not put him personally in the dock – two crucial facts remain unproven.
Even if anti-Kiev rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down flight MH17 because they mistook it for a Ukrainian transport plane, which appears the most likely explanation, it has not been established that the ground-to-air missile system used was supplied to them by Russia (as opposed to being looted from Ukrainian army stocks). Nor do we know how much control, if any, Putin had of the rebel forces.
Russia’s failure to help the rebels regain the military headquarters they lost at Sloviansk two weeks ago suggests to me at least that, after the election of President Petro Poroshenko, Russia was tacitly switching its support to Kiev and hanging the rebels out to dry. The rebel forces themselves seemed an increasingly fissiparous, desperate and drunken bunch. All of which, of course, would make them more, not less, dangerous.