Earlier this month, Bellingcat looked at new evidence that the Buk used to down MH17 belonged to the Russian military. The Buk photographed by Paris Match in rebel controlled Donetsk on the morning of July 17th and tracked travelling though rebel territory throughout the day by Bellingcat and others also appeared to be part of a convoy filmed in Russia in late June heading toward the Ukrainian border. Using markings visible on the side of the Buk photographed by Paris Match and stills from the convoy in Russia it was possible to find elements that matched despite attempts to paint over some of the markings on the vehicle
Other elements matched, including the lack of rails present on many other Buks in the same convoy in Russia, also missing from the Buk in UkraineAs part of our investigation we examined footage of other Buk missiles launchers to find any with similar markings, and also invited Bellingcat readers to contribute to our Checkdesk investigation into the launchers by sending us any images of Buk missile launchers they might have come across. As of yet, we’ve not found any with similar markings, but one eagle-eyed reader found a detail that we had previously overlooked.
Mark Brown noted the following on Twitter
— mark brown (@mark24823687) September 22, 2014
As he notes in his tweets, the side skirt of the Buk in both photographs has been damaged in exactly the same position. The damage is visible under the markings, highlighted in the below image.
We can see here that the side skirt has a dent in it that matches in both images. The likelihood of two different Buks having the same markings and also the same damage seems incredibly unlikely, so this shows that the Buk photographed in Ukraine, travelling through rebel held territory on July 17th, was the same one identified inside Russia in a convoy containing vehicles from the Russian’s 53rd Zrbr “Buk” Brigade based in Kursk.