the home of online investigations

You can support the work of Bellingcat by donating through the following link:

Who’s Lying? An In-depth Analysis of the Luhansk Buk Video

May 29, 2015

By Eliot Higgins

Translations: Русский

On July 21st 2014, only a few days after Flight MH17 was shot down in Eastern Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defence held a lengthy press conference, detailing what they claimed to be evidence of who was responsible for the downing of Flight MH17.

The claims included evidence of Flight MH17 significantly altering its course, radar data that showed an aircraft close to Flight MH17, satellite images of Ukrainian Buk missile launcher in the area on July 17th, and a video of a Buk missile launcher shared by the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior that the Russian Ministry of Defence claimed was presenting false information about its location.

One claim in particular was hotly debated. A video showing a Buk missile launcher was shared online by the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior on July 18th, reportedly filmed on the morning of July 18th.

This claimed to show the missile launcher linked to the downing of flight MH17 heading towards the Russian border. It was clear the Buk missile launcher was being transported by the same truck and low-loader (described as having a cabin unique in the area by its owner) seen in images and videos from July 17th, showing a Buk missile launcher being transported through separatists held territory.

Trailer comparison

However, the Russian Ministry of Defence disagreed. They claimed the video has been recorded elsewhere, showing a location in government held territory.

“For example, media circulated a video supposedly showing a Buk system being moved from Ukraine to Russia. This is clearly a fabrication. This video was made in the town of Krasnoarmeisk, as evidenced by the billboard you see in the background, advertising a car dealership at 34 Dnepropetrovsk Street. Krasnoarmeysk has been controlled by the Ukrainian military since May 11”

The Russian Ministry of Defence displayed the following image showing what they claimed the billboard said.

Russian board

So on one side the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior is claiming the video shows the Buk heading towards Russia, while the Russian Ministry of Defence is claiming the video was filmed in territory controlled by the Ukrainian government, which is especially significant as the truck and low-loader is clearly the same one seen travelling through separatists held territory on July 17th.

Unfortunately for the Russian Ministry of Defence something that would have been at one time very difficult to prove is now, thanks to the internet, just a matter of looking in the right places. On July 22nd the following images were shared on Twitter, claiming to show the exact location the video was filmed in separatists controlled Luhansk, close to the Russian border.

Using a variety of online resources it is possible to confirm that this is the correct location. A website with feeds for traffic cameras in Luhansk included a camera pointing directly at the location that the Buk travelled through. Traffic cameras in Luhansk had been shut down a week before July 17th, but preview images from the cameras were still available. It should be noted since Bellingcat published its original work on the Luhansk Buk video the traffic camera site has been shut down for unknown reasons, but was archived on July 17th, where the preview image is still visible.
junction

The traffic camera is positioned to the right of the location of the camera in the Buk video, which was pointing across the top of the trees in the bottom left corner of the picture towards the billboards and intersection. Clearly visible is a billboard with the same car advertisement and green border visible in the Buk video.

billboard camera

Billboards are not unique, but it’s also possible to explore the area using other resources. While Google Street View is a well known service for exploring ground level imagery of towns and cities, Yandex Maps also offers a similar service, which, unlike Google Street View, covers Luhansk, including the area visible in the Buk video. The imagery from the area is a few years old, and the billboards are recent additions to the area, so are not visible in the street view imagery from Yandex Maps.

Yandex streetview billboards

The absence of billboards in the area is apparent in historical satellite imagery of the area from 2011 visible in Google Earth, with the earliest dated Google Earth imagery available showing them in March 2014.

billboard sat

The age of the Yandex Maps imagery is also apparent when looking at the nearby church, only partially constructed in the Yandex Maps imagery, but clearly visible in the image from the traffic camera.

partly constructed church

Of particular interest is a set of buildings with silver and red roofs near to the church, visible in the traffic camera image to the right of the church. In the Buk video it’s possible to make out the red and silver roofs, as well as a red and silver chimney, matching perfectly with these buildings.

carwash

In addition to these matches a Luhansk local visited the site and took various photographs which were then shared on Livejournal, including a clear photograph of the billboards in the area and the local church.

5783696

The photographer also took a picture of the red and silver roofed buildings nearby, again confirming this is the same location shown in the video. It also shows that despite the street view imagery being at least 3 years old the roofs and chimney are still the same colour now as they were in the street view imagery and Buk video.

5783734

These images allowed smaller details in the video to be matched, such as the detail on the lamp posts, and shape of the curb.

postcurb

It’s also possible to identify a second billboard visible in the Buk video, heavily obscured, and only visible briefly at the start of the Buk video. The same billboard is also visible in the traffic camera image.

obscured billboard

Another image of the area is available on Panoramio, described as being taken on October 12, 2013, and showing a position closer to that of the position in the Buk video.

MH17 intersection

It’s possible to match objects in the Buk video with objects in the Panoramio photograph, also establish the position of the Buk video camera is to the right and below the position of the Panoramio photograph camera. In the below image the position of three features are highlighted, the right side of the billboard (red), the pole (green), and the chimney (yellow).

Junction Reference Points

As we can see, to match the position in the Buk video the camera position in the photograph would need to move to the right for the right side of the billboard to line up with the pole, resulting in the chimney appearing to the right of the billboard and pole. That would also mean the tree marked in green in the below image would appear further to the left in the Buk video, obscuring more of the building marked in pink.

Intersection two

It’s also possible to make out the pole visible in the Buk video in exactly the right position in the Panoramio photograph.

Pole2

And near the pole the cable connectors visible in the Buk video.

Connectors

Yandex Maps street view imagery can be used again to show us the position of the Buk video camera from the junction where the Buk was filmed. This image shows apartments overlooking the trees visible in the Luhansk Buk video, further confirming this is the correct location.

Luhansk reverse

It’s now clear the video was filmed in Luhansk, and based on the position of buildings and structures in the video it’s clear the camera is positioned west of the road, facing eastwards. In the first moments of the video a window frame is visible on the right side of the shot, indicating the camera is positioned inside the apartment buildings overlooking trees, which partly obscure the view of the road in the video. The following map shows the approximate position of the camera and the Buk in the video.

map buk

The Russian Ministry of Defence had claimed “This video was made in the town of Krasnoarmeisk, as evidenced by the billboard you see in the background, advertising a car dealership at 34 Dnepropetrovsk Street.”, but this is clearly untrue, the photographs taken of the billboard clearly show it says something completely different from what is claimed by the Russian Ministry of Defence.

billboard fake

This appears to have been a frustrating piece of evidence for someone, when Correctiv visited the site several months later the billboard had suffered a very specific piece of vandalism.

vandalism

The same location was also visited by 60 Minutes Australia, who again confirmed the location was correct.

60 minutes

The 60 Minutes Australia report which visited the Luhansk site was attacked by Robert Parry (best known for his reporting on the Iran-Contra affair), who claimed 60 Minutes Australia had attempted to deceive their viewers, and that they were “engaged in a wilful fraud“. However, it is clear thorough analysis the 60 Minutes Australia visited the correct location, and that Robert Parry is wrong in his assessment.

Although most of the billboards have been stripped, it’s still possible to make out parts of the advertisements that were on them on July 17th. One example is the billboard that was partly obscured in the video, and photographed by the Luhansk local

blue billboard

In response to Parry’s initial accusations 60 Minutes Australia showed footage of the pole visible in the Buk video, that was also photographed by the Luhansk local, that also clearly matches.

Pole

Cables in the Buk video are also visible in the video from 60 Minutes Australia, with the black connectors (boxed in red) and the cable connected to the distinctive pole (boxed in green) visible in both sets of footage.

Cable connecters

In a piece of footage filmed as they approach the location a distinctive building is visible, which is also visible on street view imagery of the area.

60 mins 2

This building is next to the red and silver roofed buildings and the red chimney visible in the Buk video.

60 mins 3

Moments later after the grey roofed building is visible the church that’s nearby is also visible.

60 Mins 4

60 Minutes also filmed the church in other shots, clearly showing that this is the correct location.

parry1

As we can clearly see, despite accusations by Robert Parry that 60 Minutes Australia was “engaged in a wilful fraud“, 60 Minutes Australia had in fact visited exactly the same site shown in the Luhansk Buk video, further confirming the Russian Ministry of Defence lied about the video at their July 21st press conference.

But this is just one of the lies and fabrications presented by the Russian Ministry of Defence in their July 21st press conference. Radar data presented, supposedly showing an aircraft near MH17 appearing on radar moments after it was shot down almost certainly showed instead the debris of MH17 as it broke up over Ukraine. The claim that MH17 was redirected from its flight path was shown to be utterly untrue, based on data released by the Dutch Safety Board investigation into the downing of Flight MH17.

From this it is clear that the reaction of the Russian government to the downing of Flight MH17 was to create a series of untruths and fabrications, and to present them to the world, including the families of those killed on July 17th. In addition to the above examples Bellingcat will soon be releasing a detailed report clearly demonstrating more of the evidence presented at the July 21st press conference was fabricated.

It is also clear that open source and social media investigation can play a major role in debunking lies and propaganda, and empowers anyone to find the truth, even when powerful governments attempt to obscure it.

Eliot Higgins

Eliot Higgins is the founder of Bellingcat and the Brown Moses Blog. Eliot focuses on the weapons used in the conflict in Syria, and open source investigation tools and techniques.

Join the Bellingcat Mailing List:

Enter your email address to receive a weekly digest of Bellingcat posts, links to open source research articles, and more.

343 Comments

  1. Tinus

    “the truck and low-loader is clearly the same one seen travelling through separatists held territory on July 17th”
    Might look the same but how can you tell if its realy the same from a LQ video?

    “preview images from the cameras were still available” from a cam that got shut down only days after? you must be some lucky guy having the excat images need to be safed on July 17th. just wow

    I fail to see any facts. Your whole story is based on a lot of “might be”s on top of that you manged to get a preview from a cam that got shut down but had a saved image from July 17th.

    Reply
    • Hector Reban

      It”s all about the “unique cabin”, Tinus, according to its owner..

      Reply
    • S

      “you must be some lucky guy having the exact images need to be safed on July 17th. just wow “- but IS THAT the real authentic image or not ? You clearly make no pint other than cast doubt. Whether they were lucky or not is irrelevant. Whether the image is authentic or not IS relevant. It seems you have no words to say on that. Clearly you are trying to deceive and confuse others. Normal tactics by trolls.

      Reply
      • Hector reban

        Well, S, my mother uses to say: ¨When something is too good to be true, normally it won´t be true.¨

        Reply
  2. Milos984

    I am giving into bellingcat notice also This site: http://buran.ru/htm/mh17.htm dont know if it was not posted already. But many usefull details are there. Unfortunatelly it is in russian so time is needed to trnslate it properly.

    Reply
  3. Robert Johnson

    what happened to the fences of the red roofed and silver roofed buildings?

    where indeed is the silver roofed building at all on the video?

    i see what looks like the sloped light brown roof of a house.

    Reply
  4. Brendan

    It’s the “60 Minutes” team itself that is responsible for most of the confusion about the location.

    The billboard that featured predominantly in their film was the one on the other side of the street, instead of the nearer one that is actually seen in the original Buk video (see from 9:30 to 9:50 in part 2 of the program). The presenter Michael Usher’s piece to camera was filmed in a position that does not match anything in the Buk video. Robert Parry correctly highlighted the discrepancies.

    If they had been better informed, they would have instead shot in a position like that of the photo from Livejournal that you show above. That would have shown some of the main landmarks that the Buk passed (the correct billboard, the turnoff and the two lamp posts). Just compare that scene with the one with Michael Usher above.

    The mistake in the program was not deliberate, but in their response to Robert Parry they were indeed “engaged in a wilful fraud“ by covering up that mistake. They hid the fact that they filmed the wrong part of the road by giving excuses about wanting to show the overall road layout and that their scene “was simply shot from a different angle”.

    Reply
    • bellingcatadmin

      Robert Parry just seems annoyed because his initial post was shown to be nonsense, then he starts blaming 60 Minutes for confusing him.

      Reply
    • Brendan

      Bellingcat also appears to be responsible for some of the confusion because they published an inaccurate location for the Buk launcher. The satellite photo above shows what they call the “approximate position” of the Buk. That’s almost the same position that they mark in another photo ( https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2015/05/19/robert-parry-falsely-accuses-60-minutes-australia-of-using-mh17-fake-evidence/ ).

      That’s the same spot that Michael Usher points to as where the Buk passed by. That is seen in his piece to camera that does not match the Buk scene.

      A much more accurate location is here, more than 30 m up the road: https://www.google.com/maps/place//@48.545655,39.2648,703m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0!6m1!1e1

      Reply
    • Just a A

      If you want to show the layout of the road, you have to move closer to the street. If you look a the pic form the “60 Minutes” report, you will see that Michael Usher even stand below the billboard seen in the video and the camera is loosely directed toward the buildings seen in the video. Even the lamppost behind the bridge (in the video the “right pole” of the billboard) is clearly visible.

      Of course, there are parts in Michael Ushers presentation of the scene which can be discussed. The zoom on the billboard on the left hand side of the road can be seen as unlucky. However, if a journalist (and Robert Parry should still be seen as journalist, or?) had only invested ~30 minutes in research, he would have known that Michael Usher was at the right place.

      Reply
      • Robert Johnson

        but the buildings seen in the video are not visible on 60 minutes version.

        Reply
      • Brendan

        The film shows the billboard on the other side of the street in full in three different shots. It only shows a tiny part of the “Buk video” billboard in part of one of the shots. They had footage of that billboard, as Usher said in the update, but they didn’t put it in the program.

        They could have given a good idea of the road layout, as well as the Buk location, by panning and/or zooming at the position of the Livejournal photo above.

        Reply
  5. Just a A

    “what happened to the fences of the red roofed and silver roofed buildings?”

    in large parts covered by the hill / bridge (only a small part of the fence of the red roofed building is visible in the vid)

    “where indeed is the silver roofed building at all on the video?”

    Which silver roofed building? There is only a brown roofed house. Only under certain light conditions the roof seems to be silver:

    https://maps.yandex.ru/?text=Ukraine%2C%20Luhansk&sll=11.574832%2C48.134602&sspn=0.624847%2C0.224300&ll=39.266624%2C48.544944&z=19&l=sat%2Cstv%2Csta&panorama%5Bpoint%5D=39.266628%2C48.544867&panorama%5Bdirection%5D=65.118542%2C1.021117&panorama%5Bspan%5D=130.000000%2C72.854167&ol=geo&oll=39.307806%2C48.574039

    Reply
  6. Vincent Verweij

    This is a solid piece of geolocating, for which I compliment Eliot Higgins. There’s no doubt that this video was shot on the intersection next to the Trinity Cathedral.
    However, a couple of remarks.
    1. Location. The BUK video was first released on the Facebook page of Arsen Avakov, who was then the Minister of Interior of Ukraine. He wrote that the video was recorded in the border town Krasnodon. Untrue. Later the Russians said it was Krasnoarmeisk, also untrue. Ergo: both sides lied about the real location.
    https://www.facebook.com/arsen.avakov.1/posts/670837696339673
    2. Time. Avakov claimed the video was shot on 18 July at 04:50 AM. That’s only 10 minutes after sunrise. Apart from the fact that the sky is too light, the shadows in the video don’t match with that time of day. You would expect to see long, stretched shadows.
    http://www.pbase.com/image/127342670
    3. Date. There is new, circumstantial evidence that this video was not shot on July 18, but earlier. I cannot say much about, because we will reveal it in our tv-broadcast end of June.
    4. Control. Who controlled the spot where the BUK drove? The rebels or the government? Three days before the downing of MH17, on July 14, the Ukrainian army launched an attack to regain control of the Luhansk airport. They used the E40 road from the north to move to the airport in the south. A wide corridor around the E40 was created and several districts of Lugansk came back under government control. On July 18th, the government firmly controlled the airport and areas around the E40. The intersection where the BUK was filmed, is 2.5 km from the E40. It’s not clear who controlled it on July 18th. It could have been both sides. This map suggests the government controlled it, but it’s unclear how precise the LiveUAMap is.
    https://twitter.com/vverweij/status/554741270669967361
    5. Route. If this video is showing the BUK that was used to attack MH17, why was it escaping to Russia via the least logical route? From the alleged launch site, Lugansk is not on the shortest way to Russia. In fact it’s a detour of at least 146 km.
    http://tinyurl.com/plrhaj7
    The shortest route would have been only 17 km.
    http://tinyurl.com/pfeskg8
    6. Direction. The BUK is driving from the north-west to the south-east in the video. If the BUK was coming from the launch site in the south, you would expect it to drive the reverse way, from the south to the north.
    Considering all the facts, I think it’s unlikely that this video is truely showing the BUK that was used to hit MH17, fleeing to Russia via Lugansk. I think it was a propaganda setup by the Ukrainians and that the video was either shot earlier, or was a Ukranian BUK system moving through government controlled area.
    regards,

    Vincent Verweij
    journalist
    KRO Television

    Reply
    • bellingcatadmin

      We asked LivaUAMap about their map, they replied:
      “Its very quite a row estimation, though based on reports from social media, here is our response to one Ukrainian media, in Ukrainian – if need translation ask.

      Road was without control – or under “partly fire control” – Ru forces in Central Luhansk, and Ua far than Oleksandrivksk/ Yuvileyne/ Rozkizhne

      “На час збиття літака дорога була “нічия”, тобто там не було сепаратистів, але й вогньового контролю українських військ теж не було(й не було блокпостів нічиях). Українські війська проїзжали швиденько до аеропорту, також швиденько туди-сюди їздили сепаратисти

      з подій що поруч – https://twitter.com/LUGANSK_TODAY/status/488303372194562048 обстріл школи бойовиками (e-40 – черноморська) 13 липня

      Перше повідомлення у нас про деблокування аеропорту – 13 липня – http://liveuamap.com/e/2014/13-of-july-the-lugansk-airport-is-deblocked-ukrainian-army-is?ll=48.8829;31.181&zoom=12 саме по е-40(м04) українські війська діставалися до оточених у Луг. аеропорту – зайшли у Олександрівськ”
      As you can see from the sources they provide, none of them point to the road being under government control.

      Reply
        • bellingcatadmin

          As I just said, we contacted LiveUAMap about it, and posted their full reply. We’ve looked for anything showing that road was under government control, but nothing yet.

          Reply
          • Jer2

            Yes, but why wasn’t the controversy mentioned in the article itself? Perhaps alluding to the possibility that the road was under UA control, or mentioning that this discussion had taken place? The discussion was back in January, so it could have been included in the article, no?

          • bellingcatadmin

            The article is about geolocating the video in light of claims made by the Russian MoD and Robert Parry, and I’ve yet to see the case for it being under government control being made beyond citing LiveUAMap.

      • Sinon Walker

        Bellingcat have now changed their story! Here they claim the area was under Separatist control. https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2014/11/08/origin-of-the-separatists-buk-a-bellingcat-investigation/
        “However, investigations by Bellingcat have shown this statement from the Russian Ministry of Defence to be untrue, and it has been possible to find the exact location in the separatist-held area of Luhansk where this video was filmed. ”

        Now they merely say no source points to it being under government control

        Reply
    • bellingcatadmin

      Also keep in mind that it’s not a 12 hours journey from Snizhne to Luhansk, which suggests it was parked somewhere between those hours. For all we know it was stored somewhere in Luhansk, hence the route it was seen taking through the city, and until that can be established (if it can), it can’t be stated strongly that the route is unusual.

      Regarding the point “You would expect to see long, stretched shadows”, this would depend on the cloud coverage at the time. Satellite imagery from that morning seems to show quite a bit of cloud in the region, so it would seem that needs to be clarified http://www.sat24.com/h-image.ashx?region=eu&time=201407180500&ir=False

      Hopefully you’re circumstantial evidence of the date is far more compelling than your other points.

      Reply
      • Jim Dobbin

        “For all we know it was stored somewhere in Luhansk, hence the route it was seen taking through the city..”

        This is completely hypothetical and without foundation. For someone that constantly reminds people of the importance of verification you quite often have no issues of filling the blanks in your arguments with completely baseless suggestions.

        Reply
      • Jer2

        You don’t answer his question about the direction of travel, or the logic of the direction of travel (“The BUK is driving from the north-west to the south-east in the video. If the BUK was coming from the launch site in the south, you would expect it to drive the reverse way, from the south to the north”).

        Nor do you seem willing to ask why the BUK was in Luhansk, and so at risk of capture, when it could simply have gone to Russia through Krasnodon or Sverdlovsk in perfect safety. Could you say something about that?

        Reply
        • skunkpussy

          Maybe because people incompetent enough to shoot down a civilian airliner by accident are also incompetent at reading maps / finding their way back to Russia?

          Reply
          • Robert Johnson

            if they can operate a Buk at all they can read a map.

        • Just a A

          “Nor do you seem willing to ask why the BUK was in Luhansk, and so at risk of capture, when it could simply have gone to Russia through Krasnodon or Sverdlovsk in perfect safety. Could you say something about that?”

          The road to Krasnodon is in the proximity of the Luhansk airport (~7 km). The border near Sverdlovsk was under Ukrainian control or at least close to Ukrainian positions. (see eg: http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/kot_ivanov/71733898/730/730_900.jpg)

          Than there is still the open question which roads were suitable for the Buk transport, especially considering its height and weight.

          Reply
          • Hector reban

            What about this claim. There were 2 another launchplatforms according to the Wall Street Journal:

            Intelligence, including photographs and electronic intercepts, compiled by Ukrainian spies show that three Buk-M1 systems were shipped out of eastern Ukraine on flatbed trucks in two waves in the early morning of July 18, said Mr. Nayda. A system missing a missile crossed the border in a flatbed truck to Russia at 2 a.m., and two other missile systems with a complete set of missiles crossed at 4 a.m., he said.

            http://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-knew-of-separatists-air-defense-capabilities-say-officials-1405781508

    • Robert Johnson

      Vincent, have you actually visited Luhansk and filmed the area for your documentary or not?

      Reply
    • cthulhu985

      Considering zones of control and roads I would suggest using this map: http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/kot_ivanov/71733898/730/730_900.jpg

      It’s bit optimistic in showing separatists zone as entirely contiguous, but otherwise reliable.

      Also I would suggest searching the forum which Strelkov used to visit (Котыч is his nickname there), specifically this thread: https://forum-antikvariat.ru/index.php/topic/204348-voennye-svodki-s-yugo-zapadnogo-fronta/
      IIRC, there were mentions that the preferred supply way from Russia was going through Krasnodon to Lugansk to Donetsk over E40 (M04), other roads were less preferable for some reason.

      Reply
      • Hector Reban

        It”s a very unreliable map, as I see it, filled in I suppose according to rebel wishes and not with the actual situation. But if it were true, Vincent Verweij”s claim about the route (why not the short cut of 17 km to the Ru border south of Snizhne?) makes sense.

        Higgins would of course ask you (when you provided material against his claims) what the original sources are on which this map has been drawn?

        Reply
        • cthulhu985

          >not the short cut of 17 km to the Ru border south of Snizhne?
          Because regardless of who actually controlled the ground, the small ‘tongue’ connecting to the border was an active war zone. Which, incidentally, is the likely reason for Buk’s presence there.

          >what the original sources are on which this map has been drawn?
          You would have to ask the author that. I found that his maps at the time were largely validated by subsequent events, even though they are a bit optimistic, like I said.

          Reply
    • Just a A

      1. Depends: If he said: in the direction, it would be a correct description But even if his first claim was wrong, it was much closer to the truth than the later Russian version.

      2. If you have a close look at the lamppost behind the billboard (the right “pole”), you will see that there is a light visible (eg at 0:07). It is the only lamppost directed towards the camera. However, there are no clear spots on the ground from the other lampposts.

      4. Almost all other maps show the area not under Ukrainian control. The official Ukrainian map (a copy can be found here: http://seo-top-news.com.ua/category/%D0%B8%D0%BD%D1%84%D0%BE%D0%B3%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%84%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%B0/page/7/) shows even Oleksandrivs’k, north of the M04, not under Ukrainian control.

      5. You should check the target of the 21.07. MLRS attack inside Ukraine (http://mediarnbo.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/mapUSA3.jpg) , one target is Marynivka. located directly at your suggested 17 km path. The other path is close to the Luhansk airport (~ 5 km).

      While the control of the the M04 is questionable, the two routes you suggest were clearly or most likely blocked by the Ukrainian army.

      6. If the trailer entered Luhansk via the M04, it must have come from the north-west. It is questionable if there was a safe and also suitable way open which would allow them to enter Luhansk from the south-west.

      Another question is, if the trailer went directly to the border. Given the alleged time of the Luhansk video, it is possible, that the BUK was parked/covered between the the launch and the transport back to Russia.

      Reply
      • Robert Johnson

        they parked the Buk and covered it then uncovered it for the journey home?

        LOL.

        Reply
    • Hector reban

      Watch out, the Bcat method is to get you entangled and immersed in a tsunami of unimportant details, where the most obvious thing they have to answer to is of course why they so blatantly follow the SBU and its alleged timestamp.

      Reply
    • Brendan

      I can’t argue with any of Vincent Verweij’s points, except for the one about the time of day. You would see shadows only where the sun is visible in the sky. The sun could have been obscured by clouds or trees, especially if it was low down near the horizon.

      There are some features in the video, though, that indicate that it was morning but not necessarily just after dawn:

      – The small but very bright point of light on the street lamp could mean that it was early morning. That light could be from the lamp itself soon before it switches off in daylight. Alternatively it could be a reflection of the sun, low down in the sky, on the downward facing lamp. A glass lamp cover could catch the light and redirect it in unpredictable ways.
      – The Buk casts a barely visible shadow to the west or south-west on the road. That’s not possible in the afternoon or evening in the summertime.
      – The fact that the sky in the east is bright relative to the westward facing objects (houses, trees, Buk and truck) suggests that is morning. It could even have been very early morning, even though Vincent seems to suggest the opposite. That’s because the video recording only tells us the relative brightness of the sky. The camera automaticaly adjusts the overall brightness for the clearest picture, so the sky might not have really been as bright as it appears on the screen, so it’s possible that it was early morning.

      Reply
      • Rob

        Couple of more comments for Vincent,
        “2. Time. Avakov claimed the video was shot on 18 July at 04:50 AM. That’s only 10 minutes after sunrise. Apart from the fact that the sky is too light, the shadows in the video don’t match with that time of day. ”

        There are no shadows visible in the video.
        Which is consistent with the pretty solid cloudcover on the morning of the 18th as evidenced by sat24 and the Aqua/Terra images of that day as well as videos from the area that morning.

        “3. Date. There is new, circumstantial evidence that this video was not shot on July 18, but earlier.”

        I have done extensive work (couple of months) on this speculation, using the evidence of the streetlight next to the billboard in the video, and the reported power outage in Luhansk that day.

        I’d be happy to share my work with you and Brandpunt, and what conclusions I reached, but I warn you that the results are inconclusive, due to the power transmission network configuration to Luhansk from Shastia.

        Reply
        • Brendan

          “There are no shadows visible in the video.”
          A shadow can be seen to the right of the cab when it’s passing the turnoff (after 5 seconds). There is no street lamp on that part of the road, as far as I know, that would cause that.

          The shadow is not very distinct, so its not from direct sunlight. It’s possible that light cloud cover caused the sunlight to be diffused.

          The shadow’s direction does indicate that the sky was brightest to the east-northeast (it’s hard to judge the exact direction when viewing an indistinct shape from an angle), which means some time in the early morning.

          Reply
          • Rob

            I agree with you ; diffuse light (from cloud cover) mainly from the sunrise side also explains the ‘short’ (and very vague) shadow.

    • Rob

      Vincent, I am Dutch too, and proud of our country’s reputation of tolerance and reason.

      So when the bulk of evidence goes one way, you have to be careful to holding on to a position that is no longer sustained by evidence.
      And I think you are moving on very thin ice at this point.

      For example, you said :

      “1. Location….He wrote that the video was recorded in the border town Krasnodon..”

      For starters, Avakov did NOT say that the video was recorded “in the border town Krasnodon”. On the 18th, when he released this video, Avakov said (using Google translate) : “moving in the direction of through Krasnodon, towards the border with the Russian Federation”

      You could give Avakov the benefit of the doubt that you intended to say that
      the BUK was :

      “driving in the direction [of the road] through Krasnodon, towards the border..”.

      which is completely correct.
      Also remember that if Avakov is telling the truth, that the video was released only hours after it was recorded, and the police officers that recorded it may still have been on separatist controlled territory. So you DON’T want to outright tell them they are in Luhansk.

      And remember that if Avakov is telling the truth, that he is sacrificing a secret recording location from which the Interior Ministry has been recording (pro)Russian military vehicle movement for who knows how long.
      For the benefit of all of us, and especially for the benefit of the public in the MH17 investigation.

      Even at worst, you could argue that his 18th of july statement is ambiguous.
      But to accuse him of lying based on this statement is disingenuous, and arrogant.
      And by going even one step further and compare Avakov’s ambiguous statement on the 18th to the PROVEN lies from the Russian Defense Ministry is absolutely unacceptable to the point of fraudulent reporting.

      Especially, since Avakov was the FIRST (on July 19) to report that the video was taken in Lugansk :
      https://www.facebook.com/arsen.avakov.1/posts/670837696339673?comment_id=671408826282560&offset=0&total_comments=45&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D

      Yes. That is TWO DAYS BEFORE the Russian Defense Ministry decided to torpedo ANY spread their 5 lies.

      And Avakov was the FIRST (on July 22) to release the GPS coordinates of the video :
      https://www.facebook.com/arsen.avakov.1/posts/670837696339673?comment_id=672844756138967&offset=0&total_comments=45&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R5%22%7D

      If Avakov was NOT speaking the truth, how could he have known all these facts before anyone else ?

      All this suggests that Avakov was and is speaking the truth about who recorded this video, and when and where.

      So unless Brandpunt has explicit evidence that pro-Russian rebels recorded this video, can you give Avakov a break, and the benefit of the doubt, please ?

      Reply
      • Arnold

        Anton Gerashchenko wrote a Facebook post on this too, using the words ‘neben Krasnodon’. Earliet that day, just after midnight, he’d written the BUK was seen near Shizhne, providing coordinates along.
        Vitaliy Naida stated the BUK with 3 missiles crossed the border at 02.00 in the morning, with a seond BUK with 4 missiles. At 04.00 a third BUK crossed the border.
        Now, I haven’t see. Any mention of this by Bellingcat, let alone an attempt to clarify these contradichting statements.

        Reply
    • Daniel Romein

      Hello Vincent,

      I’m not sure, but I think I even saw you on Dutch television. You are known as a ‘research journalist’, you worked for Zembla and were involved in publications about the ‘Bijlmerramp’ and the ‘Natalee Holloway’-case. To be honest I would expect more intelligence from you then the comment you leave here at the Bellingcat website.

      The geolocation of the Luhansk video wasn’t that difficult anymore when Arsen Avakov posted the coordinates of the location on his facebook account. He actually never lied about the location, he wrote the video was filmed “in the direction of through Krasnodon”, which either was a type mistake or he didn’t know yet at that particular moment. There is no indication at all he ever lied on purpose about the location. The Russian MoD however has been caught with a clear lie; they made up an address of a car dealer in Krasnoarmeisk that was not at the billboard at all.

      About the long streched shadows others already have explained this and actually I am surprized you did not come to the conclusion yourself it was a bit cloudy that morning and not a perfect sunrise, so no long shadows could be visible.

      I am really looking forward to your evidence the video was filmed earlier than the morning of 18th July 2014. Especially since the combination of a Buk M1 missile launcher missing a missile, a red trailer (with a yellow sign on the side) and a white Volvo truck with two blue stripes is so totally unique, it is very unlikely that such a combination would have occured ever before. The Ukrainian army for sure never would have used such a combination, since both the trailer and truck obviously are no military vehicles. On the Donetsk photograph, where we see the same combination, the telephone number was clearly visible. A journalist called the number and the owner of the truck and trailer explained they were stolen by separatists. We don’t know exact at what date, but if it was a few weeks before 17 july, the same truck and trailer could have driven through Luhansk, but since the separatists did not have a Buk M1 missile launcher before 17 July 2014 (although they claim to have stolen one at 29 june 2014, a story that has been debunked), how is it possible we see a Buk M1 missile launcher in combination with the same red trailer and white Volvo truck with two blue stripes?

      LiveUAmap wasn’t very accurate. Besides the situation at 13/14 july 2014 was very different than a few days later. We have found many news posts about the rebels taking back control over some villages to the west of Luhansk, meaning the road from Bile to Luhansk was again free for tranport of military vehicles. This also explains why the Buk on the trailer obviously came from west direction moving east (and not from south direction). A follow up post will clarify everything.

      As a real journalist you are I would expect you to know about heavy fights in Marynivka and Stepanivka to the south of Snizhne around 17 july 2014, making the short route via Marynivka impossible. Besides: the Buk came from the direction of Luhansk (it crossed the border a bit north of Russian Donetsk), another reason it had to go the same way back, although we also don’t understand why they waited almost whole night and drove through Luhansk with it, 12 hours after the downing of MH17.

      Your point of direction has been answered: the trailer with Buk came from the west and not from the south, hence the route from west to east.

      If the video was a propaganda of Ukraine, it means they must have filmed another Buk M1 missile launcher, missing a missile, on a red trailer with a yellow sign with telephone number, hauled by a white Volvo truck. I hope you realize such a combination is very unique or at least extremely rare. Taking into account that exactly that combination was seen a day before at 17 July 2014, before the downing of flight MH17, isn’t it a huge coinsidence that such a unique combination of Buk, trailer and truck would have driven before through Luhansk?

      And if the area was under government (Ukraine) control, transporting a Ukrainian Buk on a red trailer, hauled by a white Volvo truck, isn’t it a huge coinsidence that on rebel territory the day before (17 July 2014) exactly that same combination of a Buk, red trailer and white Volvo truck was filmed and photographed?

      Either that, or maybe LiveUAmaps just wasn’t that accurate? Which explanation sounds more logical you think?

      Good luck with your evidence in Brandpunt.

      Reply
  7. Mvdb

    Anyone care to translate this?
    Подразделениями скрытого наблюдения МВД Украины сегодня 18 июля в 4.50 утра зафиксирован тягач с загруженным гусеничным ракетным комплексом , двигающийся по направлению через Краснодон, в сторону границы с Российской федерацией. На видеозаписи видны расчехленные ракеты. Две ракеты на месте – средняя не просматривается.

    What is said? Driving in Krasnodon or driving in the direction of Krasnodon?

    Reply
    • Milos984

      “…по направлению через Краснодон, в сторону границы с Российской федерацией.”
      “…dvigayushchiysya po napravleniyu cherez Krasnodon, v storonu granitsy s Rossiyskoy federatsiyey.”
      Sentence from that status above is confusing. It could be understand as “…on the way, thru Krasnodon, tovard border with RF…” but I am not sure.

      Reply
      • Compic

        Confirm. It says “…moving through Krasnodon, in the direction to the RF border”.

        Reply
    • cthulhu985

      The wording is ambigous. It say literally “in the direction through Krasnodon, towards the border with Russian Federation”. Which might mean it’s driving now through Krasnodon or (more likely) it’s driving in the direction of the road which goes through Krasnodon towards the border.

      Considering that Avakov published the exact coordinates few days later ( https://www.facebook.com/arsen.avakov.1/posts/670837696339673?comment_id=672844756138967&offset=0&total_comments=45&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R5%22%7D ) it seems very unlikely that he intended to imply the video is filmed in Krasnodon.

      Reply
  8. Nariman Namazov

    Eliot, most people who open this article are going straight to the bottom line, looking for the “Conclusions” section. Why don’t you write it?

    Reply
  9. Danram

    So the Russians are shameless liars in addition to being mass murderers?

    OMG!!! Who could have guessed?

    In other news, water is wet.

    Reply
  10. Robert Johnson

    Mr Higgins recently travelled to Kiev.

    You would think he would have popped over to Luhansk to do some filming for himself.

    as opposed to just posting the same old material here. again.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

You can support the work of Bellingcat by donating through the following link:

TRUST IN JOURNALISM - IMPRESS