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Tracking the Vehicle that Transported the MH17 Buk

June 30, 2015

By Nathan Patin

Thanks to the generous donations of our supporters last month, Bellingcat was able to purchase 25 square kilometers of satellite imagery from Digital Globe. Our latest report used this imagery to definitively demonstrate that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) falsely dated satellite photos it presented to the international community in the days after the MH17 tragedy last year in order to implicate Ukraine. Now, we will use the same Digital Globe imagery to show that the low-loader that hauled the Buk linked with the downing of MH17 was in fact absent from its vehicle yard when it was photographed by Paris Match on the morning of 17 July 2014.

On 25 July 2014, eight days after MH17 was shot down by a Buk missile system over eastern Ukraine, the French weekly Paris Match published a photograph of a red and white low-loader transporting a Buk through the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk.

Paris Match

Subsequent geolocation confirmed that the low-loader hauling the Buk was headed east on the H21 highway. Inquiries by Storyful established that the photograph was taken at “about 11 a.m. on the morning of July 17”; shadows cast by the vehicle are consistent with this time of day. Paris Match also confirmed that this was the best quality version of the image available.

Using the phone number on the side of the low-loader, Paris Match contacted the owner of the vehicle rental company, who claimed that the low-loader had been stolen by separatists who had occupied his warehouses since 8 July and that the vehicle was unique in the region. The phone number was also used to track down the exact location of the company, which is located in Donetsk.

Historical Google Earth imagery shows that the low-loader can be seen in the vehicle yard facing north on 2 July 2014, while on 21 July 2014, it has clearly moved and can be seen facing east.

2 July 2014 vs 21 July 2014

The new Digital Globe imagery Bellingcat has purchased shows that at 11:08 a.m. (local time) on 17 July 2014, the low-loader was not present in the vehicle yard, as would be expected if Paris Match photographed the low-loader heading out of Donetsk on H21 around 11 a.m. Here is the new imagery compared with the most proximate Google Earth imagery available (taken 2 July):

17 July 2014 (DG imagery) vs 2 July 2014

The low-loader’s absence from the vehicle yard at this time is consistent with the timeline of events in the hours before the downing of MH17, as documented in various social media postings, which have been verified by Bellingcat and others.

After being spotted heading east on the H21 highway by Paris Match photographers around 11 a.m., the low-loader was subsequently filmed roughly 36 kilometers farther east on H21 in the town of Zuhres, reportedly at 11:40 a.m.


The low-loader was then photographed roughly 25 kilometers east of Zuhres in Torez, at approximately 12:30 p.m., this time with camouflage netting over the Buk.


While a photograph and a video posted to YouTube showed the Buk driving under its own power in the town of Snizhne at approximately 1:30 p.m., the low-loader was once again seen hauling the Buk through separatist-controlled Luhansk, reportedly on the morning of 18 July, in a video posted by the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior. Indeed, the Buk can be seen missing one of its 9M38M1 missiles.


To recap, a Buk being transported by a low-loader was seen headed east on H21 out of Donetsk around 11 a.m. on 17 July 2014, hours before MH17 was shot down. It was then filmed on H21 east of Donetsk in the town of Zuhres at approximately 11:40 a.m. At 12:30 p.m. on the same day, the low-loader was seen hauling the Buk through Torez. The following morning, the Buk, minus one missile, was seen being hauled by the low-loader through Luhansk.

With these sightings, it is possible to surmise the most likely route taken by the low-loader. A portion of this route can be seen in the full Digital Globe preview imagery from which the crowdfunded portion was purchased.

Buk route

This full Donetsk image from Digital Globe – which, after purchasing the imagery, we know was taken at 11:08 a.m. – extends roughly one-third of the way to the town of Zuhres. Based on the time of the Donetsk satellite image and the time the Buk was seen in Zuhres (11:40 a.m.), we judged that there was a reasonable possibility that the Buk and low-loader would be visible in the satellite imagery. In order to find out, we crowdfunded the purchase of another sliver of the Digital Globe imagery, this time showing the route depicted above. Unfortunately, the low-loader could not be seen in this image. (We, therefore, will not seek funding for the additional $1,500 required to publish the image.) There are two plausible reasons as to why this may be. First, while the imagery is by and large clear for large stretches of the route, there are not insignificant sections of road that are obscured by either cloud cover or the tree line. Second, the assumption that the Buk would be visible was based upon a number of unknown factors that may have affected the low-loader’s travel time, including the speed of the low-loader, the heaviness of the traffic, and whether any stops were made.

On 30 March 2015, the Joint Investigation Team investigating the cause of the downing of MH17 released a video calling for witnesses in eastern Ukraine to come forward with information regarding the transport of a Buk anti-aircraft system through eastern Ukraine. The JIT video also featured three previously unpublished intercepted phone calls in which separatists discuss a Volvo low-loader truck hauling a Buk from Snizhne to Russian territory shortly after the MH17 shootdown. Two of these calls take place between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on 18 July 2014, the morning after the downing of MH17 and a few hours after the Buk and Volvo low-loader truck were filmed in Luhansk headed east. The individuals in these two calls can be heard discussing, among other things, the whereabouts of the low-loader (or “lowboy”), which was apparently transported into Russia.

JIT lowboy

While the low-loader was taken to Russia on 18 July, it returned to eastern Ukraine shortly thereafter and could be seen being used by separatists to transport military equipment. In a photograph shared on 6 August 2014, the low-loader can be seen transporting a BMP infantry fighting vehicle through the streets of Makiivka, just east of Donetsk.


Later that month, on 26 August 2014, a photograph and video of an identical low-loader were posted online. The video featured a woman who had appeared in previous separatist-filmed videos, and it appears that the low-loader was being used to transport a damaged vehicle.

Separatist and low-loader

Once again, historical Google Earth satellite imagery shows the low-loader in the yard on 9 August, while on 3 September it has since clearly moved.

9 August 2014 vs 3 September 2014

The PDF version of this piece is available in English and Russian.


Nathan Patin

Nathan Patin is a Washington, D.C.-based independent researcher and private investigator at the Mintz Group, an international corporate investigations firm. He focuses on open-source investigation tools and techniques, cybercrime, and the Middle East. He has been a member of the Bellingcat Investigation Team since 2015, and he was a guest presenter at Bellingcat's 2018 and 2019 Washington D.C. workshops.

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  1. Vladimyr

    “Nothing but ‘ifs, ads, buts, maybes, possibles & could be’s” Yes, and you have nothing. They obviously poured over the available data. Their data is easily obtainable. You complain but do not offer something that shows these images are false. However, they have proved that Russian images are doctored. So who to believe? People that try to investigate with nothing to gain except kudos for their work or the Russians who are trying to hide their participation and strategic accomplice to outright murder?

    • Phil Grant

      Those that disagree with my above post have given reasons why they disagree with me but all seem to have missed the two most important parts of my post.

      1. Why did Paris Match release blurred images of the alleged Buk and refuse to release the video these images were taken from?
      2. What steps has Bellingcat taken to have the images of a Buk, they use to build their case, independently verified to ensure authenticity especially around the dates taken?

      They continually go to great pains to have the Russian claims authenticated citing Russia’s continued mistruths. But I have not seen a single attempt to authenticate a single claim, image or press release made by the Ukranian authorities during any of Bellingcat’s investigations. Is there a reason for that?

      • boggled

        1 – Because they want to? Because the other images are more blurred then that? Because the whole video is in possession of the JIT team and not considered open source data any more so it is sealed evidence until the court case?
        2 – They have asked if the JIT team did verification and what they have found to be false.
        The list is exhaustive, but for the most part the evidence that places the Kremlin in a uproar has not been found to be falsified, they have the evidence and have done their own verification of it.

        So far, none of their readers have been able to prove the evidence they base their analysis on as demonstrably false.
        It has stood the sands of time.

        They have provided their methods for analysis of available open source data with open source methods.
        They have provided a lot more then the various Kremlin sponsored media sources have.

        Have you ever asked the level of evidence collection and analysis of the Saker, zerohedge, veternstoday, globalresearch, Hector Reban, or other various Kremlin allied thinking sources or your particular reading source?
        Or some independent investigation of those sources’ evidence?
        Or did you accept Russian satellite data and analysis on face value because it came from the MoD and the Kremlin never lies?
        If you believe that, I have a bridge for sale.

        Bellingcat provides what they provide without being asked, and none of the others offer that level of openness and for free.
        That is what makes them different and unique.

        Fare thee well

        • Phil Grant

          So basically your answers to my questions are as follows:
          1. I don’t know and can only speculate.
          2. I don’t know and can only speculate.

          Paris Match had been asked several times to release the video footage and declined. Why? As investigators trying to reach the truth one would only imagine said investigators would look into all aspects of said investigation and question everything. So is it wrong to ask why Bellingcat not once has questioned the SBU evidence, asked for authentication of their data or requested third party verification of same? Is it wrong to ask why Bellingcat has not once looked into the lies spun in the aftermath of MH17 from the Ukranian authorities but,rather, prefers to focus on proving Russia’s narrative wrong? Is it wrong to ask why Bellingcat has not investigated and written up reports of US lies in the aftermath of MH17 such as, but not limited to, Kerry’s outlandish remarks of having ‘seen the missile launched & saw it hit the plane’ but only focusing on proving Russia’s narrative wrong? Is it wrong to ask why Bellingcat have not contacted Paris Match and asked them
          why they won’t release the video of the Buk?

          You see this is why Bellingcat is seen as anything but an impartial source and if, as investigators, you don’t have impartiality then your investigations are tainted with bias from the outset. This is why juries in the UK are randomly selected so to ensure fairness.

          These are genuine questions that will no doubt be meet by Bellingcat’s resident anti-Russian police with claims of “Russian troll” or “Kremlin employee…ignore”. That seems to be the usual response to uncomfortable questions around.
          Truth is though that I’m anything but a supporter of the Kremlin or the Whitehouse. Why does one need to take sides? I am a person that when he sees bullshit calls it bullshit regardless of who says it and what I see is a clear Russian bias in Bellingcat’s investigations and therefore I believe at the very least their ‘evidence’ needs to be independently verified before it can be accepted as fact. All these rants of “our evidence can easily be checked by anyone” is such bullshit as I spoke about. Why? How can we check the photos supplied to Bellingcat by the SBU as authentic? How can we get hold of the Paris Match video when they won’t release it? How can we verify the other images Bellingcat uses when they won’t offer up the originals to experts for analysis?

          So how can “anyone” check this open source data Bellingcat uses when they can’t obtain the data in the first place?

          • clay

            “Paris Match had been asked several times to release the video footage and declined.” ……source=?

          • boggled

            First off, I am just another guy on here like you not affiliated with Bellingcat, so I do not have all the answers, but I have read through a lot of the Bellingcat articles and comments afterwards.
            You can take that on face value or ask me to prove I am not a worker for Bellingcat, I could never prove to you that I am not in this format.
            But I am not.
            So yes, 1 was speculation.
            But the second was not.
            Can you prove Kerry did not see it hit on some satellite imagery or AWACS?
            It is fully in the USA military’s capabilities to do that and yes, they were watching.
            By asking your question – why haven’t Bellingcat’s team asked the Paris Match journalists for their sources and data.
            You make the false assumption that they haven’t asked.
            If Paris Match told them no, just like they told everyone else, why should Bellingcat write an article about that, they are not some blogger that talks about their everyday activities.
            They have bigger projects to work on then that.
            If you want that, follow a blogger who is retired and has nothing better to do with their time.

            You state they haven’t verified any of the SBU info to your satisfaction and wrote and article stating that, tough luck I say.
            If they checked it out, and found it factual, then what is the purpose in dedicating a whole article to that?
            It is much easier to prove the Kremlin and terrorists lying, they do it so badly and trip over their own tongues.
            You can’t say they haven’t questioned the SBU evidence because you are not on their team and do not know the day to day activities.

            I would not call you a TROLLop, however, I would call many of the questions you ask are ones that you should either be sitting in a press conference and asking your questions after you get a journalist’s degree.
            They are not ones for Bellingcat because Bellingcat is a small independant investigation unit of open source data.
            They are not some big MSM operation with an unlimited budget that has 500 groups the size of Bellingcat’s just to cover European issues.
            They are small, and you expect the world of them and many of those items are more under a reporter’s specialty then under a a group of computer data analysts.
            There are reasons these titles are for different job descriptions.

            IF you want all your questions answered to your own satisfaction, start up your own private investigation firm with about 100k – 500k of startup money to cover first month’s operating budget, call up the SBU and ask them to supply data you want, hire an interpreter since you cannot understand Ukrainian or Russian and pray they are truthful what they tell you.
            Then get someone to write your articles, someone to maintain your website, get someone to do future investigations, someone to do computer analysis, someone to do image analysis, someone to search through thousands and thousands of VK, FB, and other social media postings, 20 computers, start buying satellite images at 5k a pop, etc.
            Yes, this is speculation on my part, but I feel it is probably correct on the depth of Bellingcat’s research business and operating overhead.

            So start your own business and answer all your own questions.
            You are asking a lot that Eliot and crew really are not doing, they are not specifically reporters, they are not specifically investigators, they are something different that works more on the technical savvy of internet sleuthing.
            How you check out SBU images, write to them and ask for the images, and be prepared with reporter credentials, because they do not give out all this info willy nilly.
            If you have read the articles you can check many of the facts and their analysis yourself.
            But they are not giving away all their tricks.
            And remember, they have bigger fish to fry, like possibly obtaining ALL the names of the people who operated that BUK both in Russia and in Ukraine.
            Actually, they might already have all the names and dates and turned it over to JIT, and are still watching all those idiots who posted their life stories and criminal activities on VK and FB.

            Use the search box in the site and search for your answers and use a little common sense about what Bellingcat’s team is doing and is not doing.
            You expect them to be NBC with 100 people just to work on the whole collection of MH17 evidence.
            They can only do so much.
            If you want to start your own team and answer your specific questions, go ahead.
            Each business venture has specific protocols they try to follow.

            Fare thee well

  2. Mad Dog

    Well, I guess we should just believe what the kind separatists post, since they are blessed by the Orthodox Church (maybe). “In the area of Torez, we have just shot down an AN-26 airplane, it is scattered about somewhere by the Progress coal mine. We warned them – don’t fly ‘in our sky.’ Here is a video confirmation of the latest ‘bird drop.’ The bird fell beyond the slag heap, it did not damage the residential sector. Civilians were not hurt. There is also information about a second downed airplane, apparently an SU.” Sounds about right to me. Let’s find that AN-26!

  3. Mad Dog

    The Russkies are really up in arms over this as their minions have mounted a full press attack in a lot of different venues. Discredit, discredit discredit. Of course, we all know Russia did not sent troops into the Crimea and many of these same voices vehemently used the same tactics to deny any truth to the rumors. Must have been a shock when Putin finally came out and said the rumors were true. Same thing goes for the Ukraine….no Russian involvement and we have a chorus of deniers out to prove that the people feeding bellingcat are just CIA/SUB/corporate shills. Discredit, discredit, discredit, Propaganda 101 straight out of the 1924 Comintern. There must be armies of Photoshoppers in the Ukraine working feverishly to provide all of this info or at least that is the implication, but the fact is a Buk shot down MH17 and there is very little evidence pointing at the Ukrainians. Most of the evidence points the other way despite this discredit campaign. I got my timeline wrong on the Paris Match photo, but if so, then perhaps it is even more valid despite the question about why didn’t they stop and talk to the crew….if there was not suspected shoot down yet, why would they do so (must reiterate though, that stopping to question a crew of a SAM in a place close to a war zone, especially by a foreign crew, sounds a bit suicidal to me). As for the thieves being law abiding because they brought the low boy back to the yard, why wouldn’t they if they had taken it over and found the truck useful for a variety of tasks. Remember, it is a unique truck in the area. Being able to call the owner just means he has a cell or a remote phone, not that he is at the yard. But Moscow is working overtime on discrediting all of this and I imagine bellingcat is pretty overwhelmed in coming up with a response to all of these moves to discredit them as a source….kind of sounds like the stuff that goes on in Mother Russia, except they assassinate reporters they don’t like.

    • Andrew

      Mad Dog:

      “but the fact is a Buk shot down MH17 and there is very little evidence pointing at the Ukrainians. Most of the evidence points the other way despite this discredit campaign”

      What evidence?

      The evidence I’ve seen is a series of photos and pictures of a weapon being transported by apparent rebels. There is not even a single publicly available dashcam video of the weapon being hauled around over hundreds of KM of road in Donbass.

      There is similar evidence of Ukraine deploying the same weapons into the theater.

      There are no pictures or electronic tracks of the weapon being fired (at least that any of us members of the public are aware of).

      A picture of you carrying a gun is not evidence that you are the person who subsequently carried out a secret murder. Its evidence of you … carrying a gun.

      Anyone reading the press and social media on July 17/18 2014 before any evidence was brought to light will remember that it was immediately predetermined in all statements by Ukraine and the West that Russia and/or its proxies were guilty of this shootdown. The eivdence, such as it is since then, has been used to serve only to try to reinforce this immediately predetermined outcome.

      I would like to note that in the past, when Russia has made a grevious error regarding a civilian passenger liner, such as KAL 902 or 007, it immediately owned up to the mistake and paid compensation. There was no whodunnit that stretched on for over a year with nobody admitting to anything.

      The same cannot be said for the Ukraine and the US in their incidents.

      • boggled

        Andrew, I encourage you to co back and recollect your thoughts about KAL 902 and 907.
        For 8 days, the USSR refused to acknowledge they shot down 007 with a reason over international waters, the only reason they did was because of a USA Congressman being on board and the USA government was demanding more knowledge of what happened before possibly starting a war over it.
        That and the fact the USA had presented enough of its own evidence to the Kremlin behind closed doors that the Soviets were responsible.
        Yes, I think those eight days were important, because it gave cooler heads to make decisions.
        Regardless, Moscow knew it targeted that plane with missiles from one of its fighter jets and were pursuing a active search for the wrecked almost immediately.
        It took the USSR 9 years to hand over the data recorders, both FDR and CVR, to the investigators, and they removed the tapes and refused to give them and the data from them at that time.
        So all the investigators got were two metal boxes after 9 years.
        The USSR’s navy attempted in many fashions to block international rescuers from search for the plane, its passengers, and various flotsam and jetsam.

        902 which was also intentionally targeted by Soviet Fighters five years before even knowing it was a civilian passenger plane.
        One thing to note in the following article is that the missile the Russian MoD claims was used to down MH17 was also used to down this airliner.
        Specifically were it targeted, the wing, because it was looking for a heated target.
        And also the fact the second missile missed.
        The passengers survived this and that was the reason why the USSR had to say it was them right away.

        Part of the discussion on Ukraine’s downing of a civilian aircraft is due to the fact the USSR and Ukraine were doing joint exercises and there was a question if it was a Russian s200 or a Ukrainian s300 that hit the plane.
        The s200 was a longer range and larger missile.
        Another factor the Ukrainian’s claim which has not been provenm or disproven by investigators is the fact of a jamming signal that prevented Ukraine from self destructing the missile, if it was their’s.
        One destroyed a drone target and another missed it and hit the airplane 250 km beyond the military test range.
        Ukraine wanted investigators to verify which missile hit it before they owned up to it, because they simply could not be sure.
        And to this day, there are still questions unanswered by the investigators.

        The Iranian plane was quickly confirmed by by the USA, similar to the Soviet downing of 007, and like the Soviets, they had their reasons.
        They were being attacked while in international waters by Iranian navies from inside Iranian territorial waters.
        The ships crew believed it was an attack of an fighter or bomber coming out to destroy them, they were wrong in their identification.

        In many of these incidents, the truth came out from the investigation.

        As far as the evidence of mh17, one significant piece of evidence is a BUK missing one missile travelling on separatist’s held territory one day after the murder of 300 civilians.
        There is also many tweets and phone conversations that were intercepted that discuss the destruction and the intent to destroy a plane from separatists.
        10 of them were destroyed within a month time frame inside Ukraine.
        Most of those military aircraft flying at lower elevations.

        Have you got any clear photos or videos of ANY Ukrainian BUKs carrying only 3 missiles any time after MH17’s destruction?

        And that is just a small sample of the collected evidence that the public has access to, open source evidence.

        Classified evidence will be more conclusive and that will not come out until the investigators finish their work or the court case is finished.

        Be rest assured, the one’s that launched the missile know who they are.
        Be rest assured also, the USA had many sources of information gathering watching that area.
        Behind closed doors, I imagine they have told the guilty party, they know.
        Even former Congressman Kerry told the world and the Russian government, he has seen enough classified data for him to make a conclusion and say the missile launch, fly, and destroy MH17 and the plane falling apart afterwards.

        No, there is not a 100 percent guilty verdict right now with open source data.
        It could be the terrorists of Donbas, or it could be Russian military working with Russian equipment in Donbas.
        That is what open source data and logical minds know.
        That is what the majority of available to the public evidence says.
        As to what the evidence says, look up – what happened to MH17 – and give yourself a half an hour to go through it all.
        There is a lot of ‘evidence’ pointing at the Kremlin.
        There is next to nothing against Ukraine.
        I am not saying I believe that Ukraine could not be guilty with some smoking gun in classified evidence.
        That is about the only way they could be found guilty.
        Available public data is another ballgame, and against Ukraine there is little and all of it is circumstantial.
        A fraction of a fraction of a fraction of what is available against the Kremlin.

        Fare thee well

      • Lib

        Wikipedia about KAL 007:
        “The Soviet Union initially denied knowledge of the incident, but later admitted the shootdown, claiming that the aircraft was on a spy mission.”
        “The Soviet military suppressed evidence sought by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) investigation, such as the flight data recorders, which were released eight years later after the collapse of the Soviet Union”
        “The Soviet government expressed regret over the loss of life, but offered no apology and did not respond to demands for compensation.”

      • Howell

        Also re your point of no evidence of a weapon being fired. That isn’t the case.

        It is however that the case that the Russians have presented no physical evidence, or video evidence whatsoever of the Ukranian BUK batteries firing. None. Not even the doctored stuff.

        What is true is that rebels falsely denied a BUK being in rebel held territory. That is obviously a lie.

        Now. Why would they need to lie?

  4. Antidyatel

    Funny thing about Bellingcat’s questionable standards of research. So much effort of looking for manipulation in Russian MOD photos. Let’s do the same trick with Paris-Match photo. Here
    BUK is very distinct from other objects in the ELA picture. Does it prove that photo is fake or photoshoped. Don’t know and don’t care. Just enjoy exposing Bellingcat hypocrisy. Why weren’t they interested to do the same if they are so confident in that tool and that picture is so critical for their story. Sad, really sad

    • boggled

      for that in depth analysis Anti, you need to have the actual camera with all the scratches in the lens if any, the windshield of the car the image was captured through, and various other factors to analysis the processing software of the camera.
      If Bellingcat were made of money, like some of the MSM businesses and their bloated advertising budgets, I am sure they could do that analysis for you.
      How much have you offered Bellingcat to do an investigation like this?
      Have you ever gave them anything towards their crowdfunding projects?

      You seem to think they should do a 30k USD investigation and have it done yesterday just because you say so.
      They work with open source information and the open source tools for analysis of that data, not forensics analysis.
      Doesn’t cost so much, but is very effective.
      Leave the expensive stuff to the official investigators that have unlimited government budgets supporting them.
      Yes, your sad, very sad and lacking a lot of common sense and understanding of an investigation and the limits of Bellingcat’s model of research.

      Fare thee well

      • Antidyatel

        What 30k are you talking about? I just took the photo provided on Bellingcat website, placed the link into their favourite and got the ELA analysis. If Bellingcat’s Logic is used the BUK is clearly inserted in the picture artificially. Simple.

        Another funny thing that I’ve just noticed. Look at the link name for the Paris-Match photo
        Why would they name this photo from Donetsk using the name Snijne? What is PM2? Was it some folder that only consistent the storyline with focus on Snijne? Did Bellingcat have other options to fall back after they can’t defend it anylonger

        • boggled

          30 k would be to do the analysis of why the ELA at fotoforensics in incorrect and all other evidence is to the contrary.
          They would need the car, the camera, the loader with something on it approximate size.
          Then there is the salary of the analysts.
          Then would it be overtime because they are working on other projects.
          Then there are the other various costs.

          Note in your photo, upload date – January 17, 2015
          What does that tell you?
          I also encourage you to read through the common mistakes made with this tool.

          I am guessing the PM2 stands for the uploader’s name and that it is the second image uploaded.
          In the Donbas basin, there is both Donetsk city and Donetsk oblast.
          So if someone says Snijne is part of Donetsk, they mean the oblast not the city specifically.
          So yes, that day the journalist may have started off his day in Snijne and ended up somewhere else, but this is just a label of the beginning city.
          Do I know for sure? Nope, but those are my thoughts.

          Fare thee well

    • Sean Lamb

      Hi Antidyatel,
      For me photoshop isn’t a necessary explanation for the BUK photo – or even a likely explanation actually.

      My gut feeling says if I really lived in Donetsk and had a transporter stolen and a journalist rang up saying a BUK anti-aircraft missile had been photographed on it. I would be hanging up immediately.

      It is not like the truck has even got a company name or logo on it, just a giant phone number. Since Bellingcat say they verify everything have they tried ringing the number themselves?

      • Antidyatel

        I’m not really interested in exposing photoshop. To me the funniest thing is that how choosy is Bellingcat on which photos they check with and which photos they don’t investigate. Any logical person would notice their “independence “

      • boggled

        Sean, if I was living in a law abiding city and I owned a semi and trailer and had a journalist tell me one of my stolen rigs was photographed with a large piece of military equipment on it, I would do two things, call the government and demand my rig back with rent for using it.
        And I would ask the journalist where is it, with a followup call to my truck drivers and recommission the truck back.
        Since he is in a terrorist state of anarchy, he really cannot do either.
        So if a journalist called me and I gave away the BUK freely, I would hang up.
        If they stole it and my business and livelihood without compensation, I would be peeved at the terrorists and talk with the journalists and explain what happened to a certain point where I felt the information would put me and my families lives in danger.
        A real possibility if you even read one story of the torture dungeons in Donbas.

        It is not like the terrorists are going to kill him just because he reported to the journalist that they requisitioned, i.e. stole his way of life.
        The terrorists would say they requisitioned it because that need it and that is that.

        A few people have tried calling the number, have you?
        And if you did a little searching, you could find that answer yourself.
        Little thing on the upper right called a search box even you can figure out how to use.

        Fare thee well

      • Fading away

        If I was the truck owner…and that truck had just been used as the getaway vehicle in the murder of 298 civilians you’re damn right I’d tell all re my truck being nabbed by separatists. Why? Because else others may think that as it’s my truck, I was driving it.

        Not that difficult to fathom is it?

  5. Ramsay Bolton

    Was the truck ever reported stolen as it would need to be for insurance purposes, if so, when?

    • Sean Lamb

      It’s a war zone, I don’t expect the rebels “steal” things. They “requisition” them or compulsorily “hire” them.
      Either way I wouldn’t fancy your chances of getting insurance companies to pay up – probably a force majeure clause

    • boggled

      The terrorists took over his whole company lot by force, if you read the article above you would see that.
      Since July 8th 2014 they have taken over his business and equipment.
      Terrorists are the government, police force, and militia there.
      If you think the business owner can file an insurance claim to the government that took the truck and took over the business the same way they are trying to hijack a part of Ukraine away for Russia by force of arms and murder and blackmail, it just doesn’t follow through in common sense.
      There really isn’t any law there except when it is convenient for the terrorists to have a law.
      Somewhat like MadMax.

      Fare thee well

      • Ramsay Bolton

        There is a law there. Since the republics are unrecognised, Ukraine’s law is still in force.

        An insurance claim would be filed with the company’s insurers.

        Some have argued that force majeure would riule out payment on such a claim which is possible.

        But that wasn’t my question. I simply asked whether a claim had been filed. If your vehicle is stolen you file a claim.

        Was a claim filed or not?

        • boggled

          You are getting off subject of the article quite a bit.
          But to be honest, I do not know.
          I do not work for Bellingcat, and I have not seen it reported anywhere.
          However that does not mean a report was not made.

          But would a report only have jurisdiction in the courts of the Donbas region?
          Courts controlled by the terrorists?
          Would an insurer say your out of luck in having a business stolen or requisitiioned ?
          Would it be a claim of the business stolen?
          Would it be a claim under the rig and trailer being stolen?
          Does the insurer only work in Donetsk?
          Who would he call to file a police report for the insurance claim?
          It is not like Ukraine’s official police can come into Donetsk and do an investigation.
          If Donetsk courts only have jurisdiction in settling a claim like that, how do you think the courts would find in a lawless corrupt area controlled by terrorists?

          All I can say is call the number and ask if you can speak Russian, and report back to us on what you find.

          Fare thee well

        • Sean Lamb

          Hi Ramsay
          Having a closer look at the photo you can see the company logo – a yellow emblem with a large CM just behind the driver’s window.

          Leaving aside the possibilities of a truck belonging to that firm being stranded on the wrong side of the frontline – or Kiev painting an emblem on the side of the truck, that settles the truck provenance issue for me.

          the next question I would have is I don’t see a good reason – on the basis of this photo – to say it was a BUK missile system as opposed to any number of units of self-propelled artillery or rocket systems in the Soviet sphere.

          Personally I doubt that the rebels even were working radar or if they did, they didn’t have enough depth of territory to track MH17 in order to target it successfully. Hence I look at everything that “proves” they did with extreme skepticism. However, it is important, I think, to find the correct objections.

          • Sean Lamb

            Just on the radar point – by July 18 Kiev had control of Luhansk airport.
            You would need to have specialised knowledge of how the BUK system works, but my understanding is it not just a point and shoot system. So having the radar facilities of Luhansk airport might be key to the tracking and downing the plane.

          • boggled

            Clay aren’t they in their tag team filling of their quota for the day?

            Sean, just about everyone in the world who is interested in MH17 and learned about the BUK system by now, knows you can operate it with just one unit, but it is better if it is connected.
            Just for that I think you should be fired from Internet Research, Inc in Saint Petersburg and sent home.

            Fare thee well

          • Sean Lamb

            Hi boggled.
            Thanks for your assistance regarding radar.

            In point of fact I am Australian, not Russian.

            There were 27 Australians aboard MH17. There were no Ukrainians and there were no Russians. As an Australian I take a dim view of a nation that would slaughter 27 of my fellow nationals to try and make a political point.

          • boggled

            Your understanding is wrong, it can operate with one unit, and yes, you can point and shoot, because the missiles own radar CAN pick a target randomly in it flight path of a certain size.

            And if you did any research at all on the BUK you would know that Sean before making your original comment, regardless of being from Australia or not.
            The nation and its nationals that murdered your fellow Australians were from Russia from what I see with the evidence I have viewed.
            There is a lot more available evidence that points that way.
            Does the classified evidence have something else?
            WE might find out in October this year, or it might have to wait until the court case and TRIBUNAL that your country should be pushing for.
            I have seen enough myself that without a BIG smoking gun in Ukrainian military hands, that the Kremlin is facing a big case against it.

            Fare thee well

          • Sean Lamb

            Hi boggled – yes I take your point about the stand alone unit, but by all means repeat for the 3rd or 4th time if you wish.

            You are clearly very strongly attached to the Ukrainian nationalist cause – which is fine – but it makes you a poor guide in regards to assigning responsibility.

            I don’t have a lot of faith in “classified” information – by which you mean NATO classified information as doubtless you reject all Russian classified information. Unfortunately I see NATO and Russia as equally unreliable and biased sources.

            I also see – rightly or wrongly – a connection with MH370. My view is the Malaysians had uncovered a chink in the MH370 mystery. So the shoot-down was as much to persuade the Malaysians to back off as to demonize the separatists. In fact the bullying the Malaysians was in my view the most probable and fundamental cause for the shoot-down.

            It is unlikely then that Russian separatists would have been the vehicle for this.

          • Geo

            “reject all Russian classified information. Unfortunately I see NATO and Russia as equally unreliable and biased sources.” — all information presented by Russia – either government-controlled (!!!) TV/media, or Russian Ministry of Defense – has been proved to be FAKE. Let me use a better word for it: INTENTIONALLY DOCTORED. This ranged from the images photoshopped with Ukrainian SU fighter jet, satellite images, “witness” accounts, the case of “Spanish air traffic controller”, etc. Can you say anything like that about the evidence presented by Ukrainian Gov or NATO? Only speculations, or “it is not a clear picture”. Nothing, not a single case of proven doctored evidence. So, your assessment is baseless, if not biased.

            “the shoot-down was as much to persuade the Malaysians to back off…” — I originally thought you are a conspiracy theorist. But after some thinking, – after you openly suggest Malasian gov COULD kill innocent people to cover up some previous event, while vehemently denying that Russian government could do the same – I now think you are a very cunning Russian propagandist, operating in the same manner their international branch like RT does: spread the conspiracy theories to seed the doubt into masses.

            “It is unlikely then that Russian separatists would have been the vehicle for this.” — oh, it wasn’t Russian separatists. Stop repeating the same nonsense. It was a Russian Army unit that brought the BUK from Russia to occupied Ukrainian territory, executed the shoot down, and returned back to its position after realizing the mistake they have done.

  6. Andrew

    bellingcat team:

    I’m sure this has already been explained somewhere, but could you please provide the filters you are using on Digital Globe to obtain imagery from July 17.

    I’m trying to see what images are available myself and I keep coming up with nothing for July 17, only July 16 and 18. Obviously I am doing something wrong.

    Thank you.

    • boggled

      Andrew, the specific guilty imagery is probably collected by the JIT and held in their hands I would suppose.
      Bellingcat has not found the needle in the haystack with the data they PAID FOR BY CROWDFUNDING.
      If not, it is probable that DG is asking a pretty penny for that data because it is seen as wanted by many.

      When demand is high, charge a lot of money.
      Just my guesses.

      Since you did not contribute to the crowdfunding effort, do you think you should have full access to the data they purchased?
      Or just a preview and snippet of it?
      You do now it costs a pretty penny for each image they purchase.

      AND IF YOU READ THE ARTICLE YOU WOULD KNOW THAT instead of wasting everyone’s time with ridiculous questions.
      TROLLop in action in the comment by Andrew above me.

      Fare thee well

      • Andrew


        I would just like to know how to find any image of the Donetsk region for July 17. When I went on Digital Globe and tried to search that date, I came up empty handed. Nothing is listed.

        Since Bellingcat says they purchased an image of Donetsk for that date, I’d like to know how to find it in the DG online catalog.

        As for viewing it, maybe I’d like to purchase an image from the area myself.

        I’m sorry you think this is a ridiculous question.

          • boggled

            Thank you FA for following up with Andrew, who could have answered his own question if he wrote DG on Contact US or had actually read their site about ordering and FAQ.
            Two possibilities for his comments I imagine, lacking common sense and logical thinking, or a TROLLop fulfilling his or her quota for the day.
            So Andrew, which is it?
            And IF your innocent on both charges Andrew, I apologize, there was another ‘Andrew’ here who was banned for abuses of the comment board.
            Seriously though, you should have asked the supplier of the images your questions directly, not posted it on some anonymous comment board.
            Thanks again FA.
            A man has to sleep sometimes.

            Fare thee well

          • Andrew

            Thank you.

            I asked here because I wanted to know what filters Bellingcat used to search and how they got the angle filter (which is limited to 45 degrees on my computer) to come up with a picture over slightly over 45 degrees.

            I can of course find their photo from the catalog number. I wanted to know what else was available. Also I can of course contact Digital Globe, but I didn’t want to sound like a total idiot when doing so.

  7. Meddle

    Please correct – the photograph from 6 August 2014 doesn’t show BMP, it’s actually 2S9 “Nona”, a self-propelled 120 mm mortar.

  8. igor

    The simple fact that none of the videos/photos originals were ever provided tells a lot about the “independence” and “investigative work” of the Bellingcat team . The authors of the Paris Match photo can not even prove the image is from 17 July 2014. That’s unheard of.
    Bellingcat builds up a case based on fake material, that’s all. Nothing new from this team. Now let’s move to more serious stuff.

    • clay

      do you have other photos from open sources? 🙂 No? It tells a lot about the “independence”….

    • Howell

      igor, you really have absolutely nothing do you? “It’s fake”…all you have is minimisation. You know how we know the photos are the real deal igor? Because you and your brethren from St petersburg appear here, to provide minimisation and that old soviet tool “whataboutery” if there was nothing to it….if it was as weak as you say, you wouldn’t comment, you’d let it slide and the russian government wouldn’t be paying for trolls en masse to produce utter drivel…but no. these images illustrate what is the truth, the Russians had a BUK in Lugansk on that day and blood on their hands every day since.
      You provide nothing of substance in rebuttal, in much the same way that when you reply to this you will provide nothing but minimisation..whataboutery….and nothing, in any way shape or form, of substance.

        • Sean Lamb

          Of course it isn’t helpful that the Russians photoshopped an image, but it is only weak and circumstantial evidence of culpability. It could equally be a result of a not particularly sophisticated culture fearing that it might be lumbered with the responsibility of an act they did not commit.

          My issue is having such a clearly identifiable transporter, we are in fact just chasing down a trail that was set up in advance to be found.

          Moreover this culture of atrocity propaganda is forming a repeating pattern that if we don’t try and stop it now, will just keep on happening. I understand Brown Moses was involved in similar online campaigns for Libya and Syria – both of whom are now burnt out wrecks. However, having either an amazingly strong stomach or a peculiar inability to pick up patterns, he appears to plow on regardless in the Ukraine

  9. Sean Lamb

    Does anyone know how the missile unit and the Target Acquisition Radar vehicle are deployed in relation to each other?
    If I was to guess you would have the TAR vehicle some distance in advance of the missile unit to try and fix the speed and altitude of the target. But it is not something I have any knowledge of.

    Are there any claims the TAR vehicle was spotted?

    • AnonymousDefender

      TELAR (Transport Erector Launcher And Radar) 9A310M1 have radar 9S35M1 with detection range up to 95 km, lock and track range 70/60km (pulse and CW mode).
      How you see TELAR can detect targets on huge range even without TAR, but usually TAR used for search. Accidentally, separatists dont have TAR so used solo TELAR for shot down MH17.

    • Andrew

      “Are there any claims the TAR vehicle was spotted?”

      Ukraine@War claimed a Russian TAR was (or perhaps wishfully should have been) deployed just across the border in Russia. I don’t know if anyone (outside NATO military) has ever gone looking for one on satellite photos, and unhelpfully, Google Earth hasn’t felt like providing photos of the area in Russia in mid-July.


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