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RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has blood on his hands and the rest of his arrogant body. He virtually launched the surface-to-air missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Russia inspired and armed the rebel soldiers in Eastern Ukraine who have sustained a separatist movement that has only grown more desperate. Suddenly, this presumably ragtag collection had the military might to bring down a civilian airliner from 33,000 feet.

Intelligence information identified Russian missiles on the road to the Russian border, and the eventual launch of the missile from Eastern Ukraine.

Putin has been playing a lethal game. The United States is upping its protest with more economic sanctions. Time has long passed for Europe to up the ante of its conversational outrage into pragmatic protests.

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In late May, voters in Ukraine used a special election to take a credible step toward uniting a divided country. Petro Poroshenko won the presidential post, now the challenge is to draw in the factions of Eastern Ukraine.

Constitutional options exist to create more political autonomy in Eastern Ukraine. The potential for success has been confirmed by Russia’s escalation of violence.

What is the result? The mindless, and presumably unintentional, downing of a civilian airliner with passengers from around the world.

The paranoid reaction of the rebels and the limited access they granted to the crash site — or, more accurately, the crime scene — confirm what the world already knows: The site is being scrubbed of Russian fingerprints.

The rebels apparently agreed to pass along the black boxes from Flight 17. A routine act becomes fraught with high political drama.

Europe can do better than be intimidated by the possible loss of Russia’s gas supplies. Look what the revenues are paying for, and look at the leader they sustain.

Ukraine has real political and economic opportunities looking west. Chances are the horrific events of the past several days changed some minds in Eastern Ukraine about where their long-term interests truly lie.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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