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Tracking the Trailers: Investigation of MH17 Buk’s Russian Convoy

May 13, 2015

By Daniel Romein

 

buk232

 

Now in Russian.

The new Bellingcat report, Routes, Destinations, and Involvement of the 2nd and 147th Automobile Battalions in the June and July 2014 Buk Convoys, presents detailed evidence of the involvement of the 2nd and 147th Automobile Battalions in the transport of military equipment through Russia, including the Buk missile launcher filmed and photographed in Ukraine on July 17th, linked to the downing of Flight MH17. As Bellingcat’s earlier report, Origin of the Separatists’ Buk, showed, the Buk that was linked to the downing of MH17 on July 17th was seen in a convoy travelling from the Russian 53rd Brigade near Kursk to Millerovo, close to the Ukrainian border, between June 23rd and June 25th. In this new report, the Bellingcat investigation team has reached several conclusions:

  • The 2nd Automobile Battalion of the 69th Separate Logistics Brigade (Unit 11385), headquartered in Novosmolinskiy (near Mulino), was involved in transporting military equipment to several areas along the Ukraine-Russia border.
  • The 2nd Automobile Battalion of the 69th Separate Logistics Brigade, especially Subunit 2 (11385-2) located in Kalininets, was involved in transporting Buk systems to several areas along the Ukraine-Russia border, including the June and July 2014 Buk convoys.
  • The 147th Automobile Battalion (Unit 83466), located in Moscow, was involved in transporting Buk missile launcher 232 (in the 23-25 June convoy) to Millerovo near the border with Ukraine and transporting other military vehicles to the border area near Donetsk, Russia.
  • The 2nd Automobile Battalion (Unit 11385) and/or the 147th Automobile Battalion (Unit 83466) were/was involved in transporting the Buk related to the downing of MH17, Buk 3×2 (in the 23-25 June convoy).
  • Dmitry Z, the driver of truck 6902 HH 50, which hauled Buk 232 in the 23-25 June convoy, did not transport Buk 3×2 to the border (he transported other vehicles to the border area during his last ride with his truck just before the end of his service). However, he might possibly know who did, considering that driver was behind him in the convoy with Buk 3×2. And, looking at the connections the drivers have on VK, it seems that the drivers of the Buk convoys may know each other.
  • There are four possible drivers that could have transported Buk 3×2 to Millerovo in the 23-25 June convoy (and probably later to Donetsk, near the border of Ukraine, too):
    1) Vladimir P, standing next to trailer XP 4679 50 on 26 July 2014 (see Section 2)
    2) The driver that posted a picture of truck 4267 AH 50 on 16 October 2014 in his album (see Section 4)
    3) The driver that posted a picture of truck 4267 AH 50 on 28 July 2014 in his album (see Section 4)
    4) The driver that posted a picture of truck 4267 AH 50 on 12 December 2013 on Dmitry Z’s VK profile wall (see Section 5)
  • The 23-25 June Buk convoy went to the Millerovo military airbase, and from there the Buk missile launchers were moved to several different locations along the border. Buk 3×2 was transported via the M4 highway to Donetsk, Russia and subsequently crossed the border through a field south of Severniy during the night of 16 to 17 July. After the downing of MH17, the same Buk missile launcher crossed the border again at the same location in the early morning of 18 July 2014.
  • The 19-21 July Buk convoy went to a military camp southwest of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, and from there the Buk missile launchers were moved to several different locations along the border.

An unredacted version of this report, along with additional information, has been submitted to, and received by, the criminal investigation into the downing of Flight MH17.

Daniel Romein

Daniel Romein is an IT-specialist and open source investigator focused on the MH17 case and the conflict in Ukraine. He started as volunteer in 2014 and currently works as full time employee for Bellingcat.

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139 Comments

    • Daniel Romein

      Hi Zardos, please do not post links to personal VK profiles, since these are part of an official police investigation. We know all these profiles, two of them also were drivers in the June 2014 Buk convoy.

      Reply
  1. Alex Liveson

    “Buk 3×2 was transported via the M4 highway to Donetsk, Russia and subsequently crossed the border through a field south of Severniy during the night of 16 to 17 July. After the downing of MH17, the same Buk missile launcher crossed the border again at the same location in the early morning of 18 July 2014.” (I think you mean Sjevernyi)

    If indeed the BUK crossed the border through a field at Sjevernyi then why and how would they transport it over 200 km (without being seen) just to parade it in a layby in Donetsk and then back along the same line?

    Reply
    • Daniel Romein

      Hi Zardos, the article written by InformNapalm is a different article and there is no link with Bellingcat. We were writing our report before InformNapalm published their article. Also we don’t want to copy from other articles, our article is based on our own research and where we use information from others, we mention the original source.

      Reply
      • Zardos

        I have not compared the site “I.N” and “Bellingcat”
        I asked why, in your article no geotags soldiers “*********” and “********”

        Reply
        • Daniel Romein

          Hi Zardos, also please don’t mention their full names. These two drivers probably indeed also were part of the June 2014 Buk convoy, but probably did not transport Buk 3×2. Their geotagged pictures don’t give information about if they took part in the June convoy, since they were published before the start of that convoy.

          Reply
  2. Arnold

    Regarding the transport of the BUK in the night of July 17-18 there is conflicting information:

    Just after midnight Anton Gerashchenko posted a message on Facebook saying: “Ten minutes ago a row of military machinery including the above mentioned “Buk” has passed the point 48.011623, 38.763036 on the road T-0522. It is only ten kilometers left to Russia.”
    https://www.facebook.com/anton.gerashchenko.7/posts/694953173924866

    In the interview with Vitaly Naida, head of SBU (cited on p. 43), a claim is made that the trailer with the BUK was seen around 2:00 AM in Luhansk.

    Earlier claims by Ukrainian officials stated that the trailer with BUK was sighted at 4:50 AM in Krasnodon and a video was delivered as proof. See e.g.: https://www.facebook.com/anton.gerashchenko.7/posts/695217807231736
    Only later it was admitted that the trailer and BUK had been filmed in Luhansk.

    In the above mentioned article Naida states that the BUK crossed the border around 4:00 AM, as you cite on p. 44
    How then could the video in Luhansk be made about fifty minutes later?

    So, the information by Gerashchenko and Naida is contradicting.

    Besides: why would the BUK be travelling all the way back to Luhansk to be transferred back to Russia? There are shorter routes towards Krasnodon and Donetsk (RU). Above that, there was heavy fighting before, on and after July 17th near Luhansk and Luhansk airport. Ukrainian troups had gained control of the south-east area of Luhansk. I commented on this elsewhere on this site already, see:
    https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2015/01/27/is-this-the-launch-site-of-the-missile-that-shot-down-flight-mh17/#comment-12269

    Then there’s another oddity: earlier on the 17th, before the news on the downing of MH17 had spread, some news stories were published that earlier that day Andrej Lysenko had stated that the separatists had possession of a BUK, and that they had a video of a convoy with BUK in Luhansk! See: http://news.liga.net/news/politics/2564391-v_ukrainu_zashli_rossiyskie_zrk_buk_snbo.htm See also: http://www.unian.net/politics/940883-snbo-u-boevikov-est-kompleksyi-buk-sposobnyie-sbivat-samoletyi-na-bolshih-vyisotah.html And: http://conflict.rbc.ua/rus/news/u-boevikov-poyavilsya-raketno-zenitnyy-kompleks-buk—informtsentr-17072014173700
    Could it be that the video referred to here is the Luhansk video and that this video was actually made earlier than in the early morning of the 18th?

    Anyway: what’s been written on p. 43-49 with regards to the return of the BUK is no more than a speculation, a wild guess.

    Reply
    • Will Toynbee

      Don’t expect Bellingcat to answer any of your questions. They don’t have any answers.

      Reply
      • Daniel Romein

        If you have a better look at previous articles, you will see we answer serious questions, but we can not react to every comment.

        Reply
          • Daniel Romein

            I hope you understand we simply don’t have time to answer every single comment, apart from that we often see the same questions or the same reactions we had before (including many conspiracy theories).

    • Rob

      Arnold,

      Yes. It is possible that the Luhansk video of BUK 3×2 was taken before the morning of 18th.

      It would change the story, but only to the point where it looks like Russia is staging this BUK (with 3 missiles) BEFORE MH17, and thus it would imply intent.

      But at this point I don’t think there is enough evidence to prove either way.

      Reply
    • Alex Liveson

      There appears to be something missing from that “report”.

      Like the fact that the unit never left Russia.

      Reply
  3. Greg Rabinovich

    “O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!”

    Pro-Ukrainian shills who for months argued that MH17 was downed by the separatists using a trophy Ukrainian BUK are trying to convince the public that the Russian military did it.

    Which is the truth?

    Reply
    • Alex Liveson

      One things for sure Gregg , the truth won’t be found above the comments section on this site as it seems that the Bellingcat team just keep rehashing the “the Russian BUK convoy” “investigation” and adding more speculation and unsubstantiated “facts” to fit the narrative of their anti Russian agenda.
      One has only to look at the stories on Bellingcat’s home page to see that MH17 is the only thing that is seriously commented on hence the constant rerun of the same “infamous BUK convoy” that was never witnessed leaving Russia.

      Reply
      • Daniel Romein

        No photograph or video has been published where the Buk TELAR is seen crossing the border, but according to the Joint Investigation Team there are witnesses who claim to have seen the Buk in Severnyi. Apart from that it is mainly because of the similarities between a Buk that was seen in the Russian convoy (Buk 3×2) and the Buk that was seen 17 July 2014 in Ukraine our team came to the conclusion this is in fact the same Buk TELAR.

        Reply
        • Phil Grant

          Purely speculative Daniel. This is my argument to you. No photos or videos of the TELAR crossing into UA only alleged, anonymous witnesses who gave information to an ongoing investigation. Will these witnesses be proven correct? We can only speculate at this stage.

          The picture of the 17th July Buk could have been taken anytime. Would you agree?

          Reply
    • Boris Treiger

      I cannot recall Ukrainian statements or allegations that thus was a trophy. It has been always stated that it was a Russian Buk. Command center stayed in Russia, and launch units, and possibly not one, crossed into Ukraine. In the same way, as a horrible number of other anti-aircraft weaponry before and after.

      Reply
    • Hector Reban

      Interestingly both accounts are corroborated by “very compelling”, but clearly contradictive social media evidence.

      But we have to cheer for BC. They beat the German secret service, because they claim the “false” version to be true.

      Reply
  4. DANIEL LASHKOFF

    THE EVIDENCES OF THIS CASE SHOULD BE SENT TO BROADER AUDIENCE AND IN MANY DIFFERENT NATIONS AS POSSIBLE. (IS IS ABOUT A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY AFTER ALL)

    Reply
  5. alex

    you can trust russian on anything now, they laying al the time..
    example :what you do whit friend which you catch laying about most of stuff do you still talk to him will you still be friend no you will not look at him any more, so should do all of the western countries just turn back to them let them live alone whit they lays

    Reply
    • Hector Reban

      You think the western powers don”t lie? The American have a longstanding tradition of lying in matters of international importance, e.g. the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the Iran/Contra affair, the WMD fof Saddam Hoessein and now their account of the killing of Bin Laden, to name but a very few.

      Reply

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