It is unwise, as it might take one toward misleading results, to investigate a case in a manner that limits the inquiry towards one’s first impression.
On the other hand, if it looks like a duck, if it sounds like a duck, if it walks like a duck then, just possibly, it could be a duck.
Who had the technology? According to their earlier boasts, the “separatists” had BUK anti-aircraft missiles.
Have they used such weapons previously? Yes. Were threats made to protect the “People’s Republic’s” air space by any means? Yes.
Could they have done so in the case of the Malaysian plane? A few minutes after the shot-down, the destruction of a plane -alleged to be Ukrainian- was reported by the “separatists”. The published discussion between leading military personnel -if proven to be authentic- is revealing. The sentence in which the passenger plane is described as a camouflaged vehicle bringing “spies” suggests authenticity: it is a typical example of “Soviet” thinking.
An overlooked criterion: Who controls the territory from which the missile had to be fired? Moscow’s agents.
It would seem that the separatists were clever enough to make use of their weapon but sufficiently unskilled to be unable to investigate their target and to estimate the consequences of their actions. We have local guys -have they, rather typically, been drinking a bit?- that have acted from a limited local perspective. Even so, that set events in motion beyond the reach of their ability to comprehend. Does this sound a bit like Sarajevo 1914?
There will be a temptation to “solve the problem” by downgrading it. Hiding behind a thin veil of real or artificially created uncertainties will facilitate this. Rest assured that, once cumulated, the dividends of evasion would be more devastating than the original deed. Why? Because “if we can get away with this, then we can get away with anything”.