The shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine has shaken the world. Here’s what you need to know…
1. Ukraine’s security services have released an intercepted audio recording in which pro-Russia separatists allegedly discuss how they shot down a civilian aircraft in eastern Ukraine. On the tape, militants nicknamed “Major” and “Greek” discuss the unfolding situation as separatists inspected the crash site and realise it’s a civilian aircraft, and seeing dead passengers. “It’s 100% a passenger aircraft,” Major is recorded as saying, noting that he saw no weapons on-site. “Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.”
2. This is a huge escalation of the Ukranian tensions because it draws other countries, at least by having to press for a resolution to the crisis. (It was put to Prime Minister Tony Abbott that the only source of a missile capable of shooting down a passenger jet flying 10km over Ukraine would be Russia.) Russian president Vladimir Putin partially blamed the Kiev government this morning for the atrocity, saying that Ukraine had failed to deal sufficiently with the pro-Russian separatists. For Kiev, the pressure will intensify to remove the separatists by force, according to Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer. The Sun in the UK hasn’t pulled any punches with its front page, which carried the headline “PUTIN’S MISSILE”.
3. Up to 27 Australians are believed among the dead, though reports say only 23 have been officially confirmed as passengers on the flight, which departed Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur. It was due to change in Kuala Lumpur to an onward flight to Melbourne. There were 280 passengers in total, plus 15 crew. The vast majority – 154 – of the passengers were Dutch. It’s also been reported that 23 Americans were aboard, with the remainder being Malaysian, Indonesian, German, Belgian, and Filipino. Australians concerned about friends and loved ones can call 1300 555 135.
4. The images from the crash site are shocking. Be warned that they’re graphic, but you can see them here. Most of the plane has been reduced to ash. Heartbreakingly, one video shows a soldier at the scene holding an Australian passport:
5. World leaders have reacted cautiously, with Barack Obama saying in brief remarks to the press that the incident “may have been a terrible tragedy”. In an incredible twist, Obama learned about the incident while on a scheduled call with Vladimir Putin. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that while the cause of the crash had not been verified, if it “transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice”. Tony Abbott said that while the circumstances of the crash weren’t yet fully known, there was “quite strong evidence” that a missile was responsible and, were that the case, it would be an “unspeakable crime”. Ukraine’s government is calling it an “act of terrorism”.
6. Also overnight, Israel launched a major ground offensive in Gaza, targeting tunnels used by Hamas. Tens of thousands of reserves have been mobilised for a potential expansion of Operation Protective Edge, following 10 days of aerial bombardment in retaliation against Hamas rocket attacks.
7. Markets had their biggest fall in months, with the S&P 500 down 1.1%, and the fall continuing in after-hours futures trading. It’s the first time in 63 sessions there’s been more than a 1% move in the S&P 500. The Dow was down 0.9% and the Nasdaq shed 1.4%. We’re likely to see falls on the Australian market today, with the SPI 200 September contract down 27 points to 5,454, so pointing to a heavy fall at the open. A fall in the iron ore price overnight could also see some downward pressure on resources stocks. Gold spiked overnight as risk came off, and the volatility index, or Vix, spiked 32%.
8. Microsoft is shedding 18,000 jobs, the biggest layoff in the company’s history. Most of the losses will come from Nokia, which Microsoft acquired this year.
9. Clive Palmer’s budget threat. The PUP leader says the government has tried to do too much in the federal budget, and that it will either have to do a mini-budget to change some of the spending plans, or go back to the country. We’ll see.
10. A solid day for the Aussies at the British Open. Adam Scott and Marc Leishman are two and three shots behind Rory McIlroy after the opening day. A couple of Italian brothers – Edoardo and Francesco Molinari – are tied for third. But the horror show award goes to two-time Open champion hit a spectator in the jaw with a tee shot and with his mind obviously still on it, three-putted from within a foot.
Find me on Twitter: @colgo
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