Here's the most far-out part of the theory that Russia hijacked Malaysia Airlines MH370

It’s been nearly a year since MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur for a red-eye flight to Beijing on March 8, 2014.

The whole world knows what happened next, but so far, no one knows why the plane still hasn’t been found.

We read aviation expert Jeff Wise’s book, “The Plane That Wasn’t There: Why We Haven’t Found Malaysia Airlines Flight 370,” in which he explains his unorthodox theory about what happened.

In short, he has a theory that Russian President Vladimir Putin stole it.

What’s even more interesting is why Wise has this theory. He says Russia may have been acting out because of US economic sanctions levied against the Kremlin. He begins his rationale by noting what happened after Malaysia asked countries with passengers on board to do background checks on those passengers after the flight disappeared.

Malaysia had asked each of their home countries to run background checks, and each country had complied, with two exceptions: Russia and the Ukraine.

You might remember Russia and Ukraine were otherwise occupied in early 2014, with eastern Ukraine trying and failing to fend off a separatist movement in Crimea, so it’s easy to understand why the countries may have ignored Malaysia Airlines’ background check request.

Russian Soldiers in CrimeaDavid Mdzinarishvili / ReutersMilitary personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, walk in formation outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol March 3, 2014.

But Wise says there’s something telling about Russia’s and Ukraine’s inaction amid the flight’s disappearance — and Kazakhstan’s inaction during the international search effort:

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak personally appealed to Kazakhstan’s president, the Soviet-era strongman and Putin ally Nursultan Nazarbayev, to allow Malaysia to set up a search operation in the country. Kazakhstan never responded.

Wise says despite the great deal of international brainpower behind the investigation, no one was able to explain what happened beyond all reasonable doubt.

Here’s the meat of Wise’s theory. He calls MH370 the unfortunate target of a retaliation ploy by Russian leadership — a sinister response to the US economic sanctions against Russia:

And indeed, the weeks before MH370′ s disappearance saw increasingly critical language from European and American officials in response to Russia’s moves in the Ukraine. Then, on Thursday, March 6, President Obama took punitive action, signing an executive order imposing sanctions against “individuals and entities responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine.” Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, declared that sanctions “would inevitably hit the United States like a boomerang.” The following day, MH370 disappeared.

A crew member from the Royal Malaysian Air Force uses binoculars onboard a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in the Straits of Malacca March 13, 2014.REUTERS/Samsul SaidA crew member from the Royal Malaysian Air Force uses binoculars onboard a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in the Straits of Malacca March 13, 2014.

Taken by itself, all of that seems kind of random, and some may wonder why Russia would make a Malaysian plane vanish just to get back at the US.

However, Wise says there are more signs of Russian involvement — specifically, the shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, just four months after the first Malaysia flight vanished. Wise says some of the same events preceding the disappearance of MH370 also preceded the downing of MH17:

On Wednesday, July 16, Obama announced new sanctions against Russia. Putin responded with a public statement warning that sanctions “generally have a boomerang effect,” and added, “I am certain that this is harmful to the U.S. Administration and American people’s long-term strategic national interests.” The next day, at the end of a phone call with Obama, Putin broke the news of the MH17 shoot-down.

The aviation expert seems quite firm in his assertion that the ongoing US sanctions against Russia were the direct cause of Russia’s supposed involvement with the two Malaysia Airlines tragedies. But, if true, it’s anyone’s guess why Russia would target an unwitting Malaysia instead of the US itself. Here’s his rationale for that:

If I had to guess, however, I would say that perhaps MH370 was a demonstration of prowess, a way to say to the West, “you can hurt us with sanctions, but don’t sleep too soundly at night , because we can hurt you in ways that you can’t even imagine .” MH370 was targeted only because the Russians had figured out a hack that only would work only under very particular circumstances, and MH370 happened to fit them.

Putin press conferenceREUTERS/Maxim ZmeyevRussian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow December 18, 2014.

Wise says American mainstream media have mostly downplayed this theory.

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