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Quantum of Obfuscation

October 16, 2015

By Christo Grozev

Deutsche Version.

On the day the Dutch Safety Board released its final report into the causes for the crash of Flight MH17, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that the “report is flawed, as the Russian findings were not taken into account”. This statement followed numerous assertions by Russian diplomats that Russia “is kept out of the loop of the investigation” and that the investigation is “not independent, not comprehensive, and not truly international”. Similar sentiments were expressed during the pre-emptive press conference by the state-owned Buk manufacturer Almaz-Antey preceding the report’s publication, as well as in the follow-up press conference by RosAviation, the Russian air-safety agency.

However, as becomes evident from Dutch Safety Board (DSB) 835-page report, the Russian Federation was one of the more active contributors to the joint investigation team, and on many occasions was more successful in influencing the content of the final report than other involved parties, including the Netherlands’ own Foreign Ministry (none of whose suggestions were honored in the final report). At the same time, the report and its appendices makes it clear that Russia withheld vital information from the investigation, despite explicit requests for its disclosure. Most importantly, the sequence of inputs provided implies a mid-way change of heart in Russia’s position relating to the MH17 investigation.

Most of this comes to light from the 50 page consultation matrix – a summary of the requests for changes to the draft report, as proposed by each involved party, and the corresponding reaction by the Dutch Safety Board. The consultation is a legally required step of public safety inquiries, under both the Chicago Convention and Dutch law, which must take place between the delivery of the draft report to the concerned parties, and the publication of the final version.

Degrees of Involvement

Despite Russia’s complaints of isolation from the progress of the investigation, it participated in all three interim-progress meetings held by the DSB and provided a total of 74 written comments in the consultation process between the draft and the final report. Nineteen of these comments resulted in amendments of the report’s text, with varying degrees of significance. This puts the Russian Federation at the top of the “amendment contributors” list, both in absolute number of inputs and as success ratio. In comparison, the Netherlands provided 38 comments, with zero success in influencing the DSB to change the draft text, while Ukraine provided 46 comments, and was able to achieve [largely stylistic] changes in only 3 cases.

There were far fewer comments from the other involved parties, with Malaysia providing only 3 comments.

Russia’s comments significantly differed from all others not only in quantum, but also in scope. The Dutch comments largely referred to the safety and liability aspects of the report. For example, the Dutch Foreign ministry sought to remove the language on the responsibility of Ukraine over not closing its airspace, as it thought there was not sufficient evidence of presence of separatist-held weaponry that could reach into commercial airline altitudes. The DSB snubbed this request. Ukraine also attempted – unsuccessfully – to soften the report’s language on its moral responsibility, but mostly sought to change the vocabulary used throughout the report: it insisted on Crimea being referenced as “Ukrainian territory under temporary occupation,” and the “rebels” being referenced to as illegal armed groups. The DSB was not sympathetic to any of these requests, insisting that it will use politically neutral language.

Armed Factions, No Russians.

Russia was more successful than Ukraine in modifying the political vocabulary used in the report. From the consultation matrix, it becomes clear that the original draft report included references to “Russian armed forces” as a third party active in the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine[1]. Russia not only requested the deletion of this reference, but required that the reference to “separatists” be replaced with the Russian-preferred term “rebels.” The DSB honored both of these requests, and modified the text accordingly. In a snapshot of the appendix below, the first image shows the Russian-requested changes to the text, and the second image shows the DSB’s reply to the Russian request.

q_1_1 q_1_2

At the same time, requests by the Dutch Foreign Ministry to make explicit Russia’s military role in stirring up the events leading to the annexation of Crimea were declined. The first image shows the Dutch Foreign Ministry’s request.

q_2_1 q_2_2

Aside from political stylistics, Russia’s comments were much more far-reaching than any other consulted party, as they sought to modify the substantive conclusions of the DSB as to the cause of the crash. In particular, Russia wished to make the report much less deterministic than the draft report it had seen in July. To this end, Russia even changed its position on issues it had already subscribed to during the first and second interim progress meetings.

Ambivalent Parallelism

During the first progress meeting, held at the Gilze-Rijen airbase February 16-25 2015, accredited Russian representatives too part in a review of the Boeing’s wreckage. At the conclusion of the week-long investigation, a plenary meeting of all parties – including Russia – reached consensus that “the aeroplane was most likely downed by a missile that was launched from the ground”.[2]  Before adjourning, all parties agreed on the aspects requiring further investigation.

The second meeting was held on May 6-7, and the Russian delegation attended again. After another review of the wreckage, and following up on the previous meeting, the parties focused on the possible types of weaponry used, and its likely ballistic trajectory. During this meeting, two contradicting simulations were presented as to the possible trajectories of the missile: one by the Dutch Aeronautics Institute (NLR), and another by Almaz-Antey. Both presentations assumed a Buk missile, but differed in trajectory simulation, due to the different assumption regarding the angle of approach of the missile to the airplane. Yet, this progress meeting ended with yet another, consensual conclusion that the Boeing had been hit by a surface-to-air missile. The sole dissenting opinion, by Russia, took exception only to the Dutch reconstruction of the trajectory, but not to the type of weapon.

A day prior to Almaz-Antey presenting its simulation results in the Netherlands, its report was leaked to the opposition Russian paper Novaya Gazeta (not infrequently used by the Kremlin as a leak platform). The full presentation of the Almaz-Antey analysis was officially published by TASS nearly a month later.

At this point, the Dutch investigation team assumed that Russia, indeed, had conclusively subscribed to the “ground-to-air” hypothesis. The DSB then proceeded to present its draft report to all parties concerned – including Russia – on June 2nd. The draft report elaborated on the consensual “ground-to-air” hypothesis, and included the Russian dissenting opinion as to the missile’s trajectory, accompanied with a copy of the Almaz-Antey report, as appendix. Furthermore, sources familiar with the draft report confirmed that it addressed the impossibility of Almaz-Antey’s assumption about the missile’s approach angle, based on – inter alia – triangulation of ultrasound peaks captured by the  cockpit audio recorders, which confirmed the missile’s direction of approach.

Following the receipt of the draft report, the Russian position changed. During the third and final progress meeting, held August 11-12, 2015 in Gilze-Rijen, Russia surprised the joint team with an unannounced presentation of a “Russian ballistic study,” which sought to turn back the investigation’s clock to a far less deterministic stage. In particular, Russia presented the results of an empirical experiment, conducted by Almaz-Antey on bow-tie shaped shrapnel fragments, which sought to prove that one fragment found by the Dutch team and weighed by the Russians during the first meeting,was too light (at 5.5 g), compared to those shot by Almaz-Antey through aircraft-type metal plates in their empirical test (at 7.2 g). The Russian ballistic presentation continued to conclude that based on the evidence, flight MH17 might have been shot down by either a Buk ground-to-air missile, or by an air-to-air missile.

The DSB team rebuffed the Russian re-introductions as being unverifiable, unannounced, and conducted outside of the official investigation process. More substantively, the DSB stated that it is improper to compare ground-based experimental results to expected outcomes at an altitude of 10 km, with different air-density and a non-stationary airplane.

q_3

From the content of the consultation matrix, it appears that Russia attempted to remove all traces of its prior endorsement of the ground-to-air hypothesis. Russia insisted on a complete removal of all references to the Almaz-Antey presentation made during the second meeting. It stated that the Almaz-Antey report and trajectory computation had had the relevance of a tentative scenario; i.e. “only in the event that it were a ground-to-air missile, would the trajectory had been such and such.”

The DSB consented to treat this as a misunderstanding and to remove the original Almaz-Antey presentation and references to it.

Two Russian trajectories?

Another key concern for Russia was the inclusion in the report of the results of a trajectory simulation conducted by Almaz-Antey at the request of the DSB. This computation, which used, as a starting point, the explosion location and impact dispersion data compiled by NLR, reverse-projected a ballistic trajectory to an identical  launch site as the simulations ran by the 3 other parties engaged by the DSB – all inside a separatist-held polygon south of the village of Snizhne. Almaz-Antey presented this trajectory simulation during the second progress meeting in early May. At this point in time (before seeing the definite conclusions in the draft report), it appears that the Russian side was less concerned with presenting this “counterfactual” scenario, as it still insisted on its main hypothesis, i.e. a different angle of approach, a different Buk type, and a different launch location.

However, due to its subsequent change of position and its own request to remove the original Almaz-Antey presentation from the report, Russia was left in the awkward position to have a final report with only one reference to an Almaz-Antey trajectory simulation: one pointing a finger at separatist-held territory. This was the reason Russia requested the DSB to remove the reference to the second simulation by Almaz-Antey, calling it “based on false assumptions about the location of the detonation and the weapon type.”

The DSB, however, declined Russia’s request to remove this reference.

q_4

Russia’s attempts to substantiate a missile trajectory leading to Zaroshchenske (approx. 20 km to the west of the polygon, computed by the 4 other simulations) was essential to the official Russian narrative. Four days after MH17 was shot down, the Russian Defence Ministry published satellite imagery, allegedly taken on the day of the crash, which purported to show two Buk units in the immediate vicinity of Zaroshchenske. The authenticity of the imagery has been disputed both by Ukraine and by Bellingcat, among others. Furthermore,  Novaya Gazeta  interviewed residents of the village of Zaroshchenske (currently – and at the time of the interviews – under separatist control), who confirmed that there had been no Ukrainian military presence in or around the village at any time after May 2014.  (On June 8th I spoke with several Zaroshchenske residents by phone as well, they told me the same thing). Cartography experts interviewed by Novaya Gazeta alleged that Zaroshchenske, at the time of the crash, was “6-7 km within rebel territory” None of the interviewees had seen or heard anything resembling a missile launch on July 17th. Yet, keeping consistent with its early narrative, Russia has insisted that the only conceivable trajectory of a Buk might have come from a narrow square near that village.

The missing radar data

In keeping with its non-deterministic strategy, as of the third progress meeting Russia re-introduced the “air-to-air” missile hypothesis. This hypothesis had been first introduced during the Russian Defence Ministry press conference on July 21st, 2014, when Russia declared it had radar data proving that a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter had been flying up towards the altitude of the MH17 airliner at 16:20 local time.

“Russian system of air control detected the Ukrainian Air Force aircraft, purposed Su-25, moving upwards toward to the Malaysian Boeing-777. The distance between aircrafts was 3-5 kilometers.”

Diagram shown by Russian Defense Ministry on 21.07.2014

Russia claimed that the alleged Su-25 flew without active radio self-identification (a switched-off transponder), thus it could be registered only by Russia’s primary, active scanning radar system. At the July 21st, 2014 press-conference, the Russian Defence Ministry displayed a video recording of a radar screen, purported to show the Ukrainian fighter.

From the DSB final report, it becomes evident that when Russia re-introduced the air-to-air hypothesis, it no longer referred to the alleged observed presence of a Ukrainian fighter near the Malaysian Air Boeing. Furthermore, Russia declined to provide the raw data from its radar locator sites near the Ukraine border to the DSB. Russia’s argument was that international requirements under ICAO aviation rules did not specify what type of radar data it is obligated to keep for 30 days, and that its presentation of a video screen recording of the radar satisfies such legal requirement. This refusal forced DSB to inquire with ICAO, which confirmed that, to the contrary of Russia’s claim, all raw data must be preserved for a period of 30 days [the alternative interpretation is untenable, as no authentication of a video screen recording can be performed].

q_5_1 q_5_2

During the second progress meeting in May 2015, the Russian delegation announced that the raw radar data was no longer available. Russia said it had “not saved this information, because it was not obliged to do so since the crash had not taken place on Russian territory.” From this point onward, Russia no longer referred to a particular, observed Ukrainian plane near the Boeing, but to the hypothetical scenario that there may have been a plane, and it might have shot an unspecified air-to-air missile with a similar (also unspecified) shrapnel payload.

A multi-variant truth

Russia’s extensive, and often fluctuating, inputs to the Dutch Safety Board may appear haphazard and stochastic – the natural artifact of a system not used to structured, deterministic processes. Or it may be the actual strategy: one of deferral of the truth through obfuscation. Truth, it appears throughout the Russian inputs to the DSB report, is too complex to be known. MH17 may or may not have been hit by a ground-to-air missile, but it may have well been an unknown other type of an air-to-air missile. And even if it were a Buk, from the evidence at hand, it is impossible to ever ascertain the specific type of Buk that may have been used. The launch site, too, may have been under Ukrainian or under separatists control.

This position is more reminiscent of a criminal defense lawyer’s strategy than of a proactive participant in an investigation – one which, this very participant claims, has taken too long to complete. At the same time, it consistent with the sincere response that Almaz-Antey’s CEO Jan Novikov gave to a Chilean reporter during a press conference several hours before the presentation of the DSB report.

“Why does Russia’s hypothesis always change?” asked the reporter.  Novikov replied:

“Russia’s position has always been one of retaining multi-versionality of scenarios, until the very end, when we can choose namely that scenario, which….which actually happened”

___________

Footnotes:

[1] It is not clear whether the original reference was in the context of the undisputed Russian involvement in the Crimean events, or it made an explicit assumption for involvement in the Donbass conflict]

[2] “About the Investigation”, page 9, par. 5, http://cdn.onderzoeksraad.nl/documents/report-mh17-abouttheinvestigation-en.pdf

 

Christo Grozev

Christo Grozev for many years supervised the radio operations of a public US company in CEE and Russia. Currently owns and operates national radio stations in the Netherlands and Ukraine. Christo is a senior researcher at Risk Management Lab, a think-tank with a focus on security threats at New Bulgairan University (Sofia). He joined Bellingcat as author in 2014, and has since been a lead researcher in a number of investigations. Christo focuses on Russia-related security threats and weaponization of information.

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145 Comments

    • Alex S

      It seems clear the Russians view this as an intelligence operation from start to finish. They are applying the standard “active measures” template used throughout the cold war.

      Reply
      • Jean Hébert

        What about USA, like if the USA hasn’t been active to disinform, while destabilizing countries, provoking false flags up to nowadays. Best recent example: Ukraine. US is an empire in it’s last days of existence and desperately commits terrorism around the world, particularly in M-E (PNAC) take a look. This documentary dates from the 80′ We’re in 2015 now.

        Reply
  1. Jean Hébert

    I’m not impressed by the DSB findings. Just a few fragments (4) from supposed BUK war head that contains almost 8 thousands of them. Since the BUK missile flies at almost 3 times the speed of sound and should have any problem in missing a Boeing 777 with at least, let’s say 50% of the fragments contained in a war head in optimistic probality: Here we have almost 4 thousands fragments compared to 4 fragments. A ratio 1000:1. To me, 4 fragments is a non proof at all and I’d keep other options for the crash of MH17. Now, what about Ukraine implication, have they been sincere since the moment of the MH17 crash. Have they collaborate completely with DSB or is it that the investigation is complete political cover-up?

    Reply
    • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

      Jean. One really doesn’t care whether you find the findings impressive or not. The Russian Federation clearly does. Hence their vociferous reaction to them.

      Your point re 4 pieces of shrapnel. Given that they were not in the plane at the beginning of its fateful journey I would suggest that they are, in fact, proof. Evidently the people writing the report are of the same mind and the Russians find it somewhat inconvenient. But then what good is proof to those engaged in a lie?

      Alas the Russian story has changed more times than Monsieur Putin has discovered priceless urns.

      You of course are free to minimise, deny, deflect and present all the alternative narratives that you so wish. I will go with the facts that Russia has been an active party to the investigation and it’s contentions have for the most part been given short shrift in the complete absence of any physical evidence to support them.

      Reply
      • Randy Dread

        they’d be equally vociferous if they thought they were being fitted up.

        proves nothing.

        Reply
        • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

          On the contrary Mr Dread. The report proves that the Russians are engaged in deceit, as if one were worried about being “fitted up” one might present a simple coherent narrative and evidence to support that narrative.

          Each of the Russian narratives have not been supported in any way by the evidence and that same evidence also underlines the falsification of the articles used by them in support of their initial explanations. Their claims of non involvement in the report are not supported by the report itself and are demonstrably false.

          Of course, they do have recourse to a United Nations tribunal in which they may play an equally active rule should they wish for a light to truly be shone on all of the evidence. I have no doubt their recourse to this body would be endorsed by your good self and your admirable wish to see the truth out and justice served.

          Reply
          • Randy Dread

            proposing different narratives doesnt mean anything either.

            if i hypothesise different scenrarios about a murder it doesnt mean i had anything to do with it.

          • Randy Dread

            there can only be a UN tribunal when there are suspects with credible evidence against them, if that ever happens.

            the proposed tribunal was vetoed for multiple reasons, one of which is that Ukrainians would have been the judges.

          • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

            The actual reasoning provided for their rejection of the tribunal Mr Dread is that they felt that the fact the UNSC resolution 2166 [of 2014] didn’t qualify the Boeing tragedy as a threat to international peace and security.

            Your assertion re the Ukrainians is apparently indicative of your own thinking on the merits of them as opposed to an official reasoning from the Russians.

            Re your point about proposing different narratives. You presented the argument that the Russians are worried about being “fitted up” I presented my point in that context. You are looking to remove that context, so lets place your statement back within it.

            If you had been accused of murder and presented a dizzying array of alternative narratives, none of which were supported by the physical evidence, your doing so might be regarded as a reluctance to engage with the realities of the situation and the evidence presented that you, did in fact pull the trigger.

            Russia is, if you’ll pardon the language, squealing like a rat with its knackers caught in a trap.

            It’s protestations are becoming increasingly shrill and nonsensical given the outcome of the report and the complete dearth of evidence to support their claim that the Ukrainian armed forces were responsible.

            Why if one didn’t know any better one could be forgiven for thinking that Russia were trying to “fit them up”.

      • Jean Hébert

        Almaz-Antey contested DSB’s conclusion and they go ahead with a judicial pursuit because of the sanctions they suffered. They believe that their concept, maths and experiment prove they are right. They’re the experts, they’re the manufacturer. So, for now I’l take pause from the DSB who took a long time to get a somewhat incomplete report of the MH17 shot down. I call it a cover-up.

        Reply
        • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

          You may call it what you wish Jean. The DSB took 15 months to compile their report not least because they sought to ensure that all interested parties had all arguments dealt with, given the number of enquiries that the Russian Federation made I would suggest that any displeasure at any perception of delay be put to one side, not least, given your apparent sympathies.

          Indeed it is apparent that the Russian Federation had ample opportunity and indeed took advantage of their opportunity to contribute and that the report and their questioning has lead to a thorough investigation, the result of which is to disprove their assertions.

          In direct contrast to you, I call it an uncovering. It is now apparent that Russia has attempted to mislead on numerous points of fact. Alas the physical evidence does not support their assertions and they have not availed themselves of the opportunity to provide evidence as requested.

          If you’ll forgive me, rather than pause, I would simply suggest that you read the report.

          Reply
    • budulinek

      Jean Hebert, did you read the report?

      The aircraft was hit by large number (hundreds or thousands) of fragments. Some of these fragments went through, some of them remained stuck in the wreckage of the plane even after it fell from 10 km height and in the bodies of the crew.

      Only in the bodies of the crew, “hundreds of metal fragments were found”, “these originated in part from the missile”.

      Out of all fragments found in the wreckage, 72 were selected for further examination. Four of them were metal fragments which retained their original bow-tie or cubic shape.

      What do you expect? Thousands of nice, intact bow-tie shaped fragments? You know, this is a warhead explosion, throwing “high energy” fragments against the aircraft. How many of them do you expect to retain their original shape?

      Reply
        • Andrea

          In buk’s analyzed warhead the proportion of the fragments is 2:1:1 divided in: 50% cubic 25% filler 25% bow-tie shape…
          ….then for sure we have a little number of that shape even if we can collect them all…
          …consider that during penetration the shape may have changed (they are made of soft metal)…
          …the explosion was just a few meters in the sky and obviously the larger part of those fragments never scratched the plane….
          …many fragments ricocheted on the fuselage…

          Just read DSB report….there i found those informations 😉

          Reply
          • Giorgio

            Andrea, most if not all reasonable people would agree with you. Those commentators paid or drugged by Russians will never do, but who cares? 🙂

          • Jean Hébert

            I’m sorry but this is quite a poor score for a BUK missile exploding at a near optimal distance to create maximum damage. AA doesn’t accept DSB’sconclusion even about the type of warhead.

        • Giorgio

          Dear, first you were shown by Man on the Clapham Omnibus to make a bunch of incoherent and illogical argument. Now, you pretend to be an explosive expert (with absurd claims I will rush to say). What is next? A legal expert?

          Reply
          • Andrea

            No worry….i’m keeping Randy under pressure since a few days…
            He always states things without providing any source…

    • Tourist

      In Page 130 of the Report you can See a nice Sketch how the buk explode and spreads it’s 8000 shrapnels in all 360 degrees directions arround the buk. As the airplane is only in one side of the missile not all the shrapnels can hit the plane als they go in Different directions. Maybe only a quarter or less would hit the plane. In the Report you can read on page 121 that bsd identified 250 Hits of shrapnels per Square Meter. They assume that a total of more than 800 of them have hit the plane in the Cockpit Area. That is 10% of your 8000. On page 89 to 95 you can Read that 72 shrapnels have been selected out of 500 or more they (Bsd) found for further analysis, like Chemical, mechanical and microscope examation. The Four shrapnels you refer to have been selected to fortwarf to Almas-Antai for further analyse what can be read somewhere else. Conclusion: Dear Jean, please Read and try to understand the full Dsb Report before writing here some Nonsense. Thanks.

      Reply
    • Wolf Angel

      Regards the fragments. The shrapnel blows outward in a ring, in 3 space. The aircraft occupied an arc within that ring, approximately 45 degrees. So 500 of the 4000 fragments might be expected to impact the volume of the nose of the aircraft. The aircraft doesn’t occupy all that volume, so less than 500 realistically. The fragments move radially out, and still forward on the missile trajectory. They are moving at three times the speed of sound, impacting thin aluminum with a thin insulation layer. That floor you walk over in an airplane? That’s thin plywood. So many of the less than 500 shrapnel bits also exit after entering the aircraft. Of the ones left, they may be in luggage, people, seats, the microwave, and so on. All of that in a plane where the damage separated the nose section, so the sudden decompression may remove more, along with standing people, luggage, and so on. Then there is the impact. Many of the shrapnel pieces are loose, and impact at hundreds of kilometers per hour a dirt field. And bury themselves. So losing most of the shrapnel is a good assumption, not evidence of a coverup, or mistakes. That some of the bow tie distinctive pieces were in people, and people are not created with BUK missile parts, it strongly points to the missile theory, and the type. And in the four photos I saw, one photo shows three pieces. So even at seven pieces, why make the assumption that was the total recovered. Those are the exemplar pieces whose pictures are put in the report. They show without doubt the bow tie parts.

      Reply
  2. Jean Hébert

    We all know that they are geopolitical stakes for NATO countries and Russia. So each play the game, and all not fairly. What about the Americans, Ukraine and other NATO countries all have something to loose. At this time I can say that we’re far from getting the real facts, unless one party has an ace hidden. About Bellingcat, is it true is financed by George Sorros, the Atlantic, a NATO boutique?

    Reply
    • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

      “At this time I can say that we’re far from getting the real facts”

      No. The facts are that MH17 was brought down by a missile fired from a BUK located in the East of Ukraine and that Russian protestations that a Jet was involved have been discounted.

      Reply
      • Jean Hébert

        You seem to accept for cash DSB’s report. I don’t. At this point, incrimination in court is less than guaranteed with the BUK scheme. I think there’s space to now expose the air-air scheme. The ball is in RF camp.

        Reply
        • Wolf Angel

          The RF destroyed the ATC data, and initially only provided video of the radar screens not the raw data, which they are required to retain as well. The RF photoshopped pictures of the incident, from an angle they’d have to have had a plane in the air as well, but the wrong Ukraine plane outline and the wrong placement of the markings on the supposed MH-17 airliner. Russia has been obstreperous from the start. No trust can be placed on the mercurial data sources.

          Reply
  3. Randy Dread

    yes thats another reason.

    the accidental downing of an airliner is not a threat to international peace and security, any more than the bombing of a hospital.

    as to whether the Ukrainian armed forces are responsible, there’s considerably more evidence for that than any other scenario. there’s no reliable evidence of anyone else having working Buks in the war zone. (spare me the bellingcrap and SBU recordings, i dont accept those as evidence).

    but im sure we will never know.

    the world is moving on already. the report was as expected and didnt make much of a splash.

    Reply
    • Andrea

      This report’s objective was to find out what downed that plane and to prevents future similar accidents…

      All the accusations on who did what were not included….but you don’t know as you haven’t read…

      Reply
    • Mark Rose

      “the world is moving on already”

      I think that phrase hits on a weak point of the obfuscation strategy. It works internally, if you control media/media access. Not as successfully when people have open access and an unrestrained media (and, as in this case, citizen journalists).

      With this case in particular, I think the “moving on/obfuscation” ploy–confuse and stretch things out so that people lose interest–has another flaw. I’m not entirely comfortable with bringing up something vague like national character. But if I wanted to come up with a list of countries whose population would quickly forget something like MH17, the Netherlands, Australia, and Malaysia would not be near the top. So, I can’t agree that MH17 will just fade away unsolved.

      Given that, I can understand a Russian motivation to divert attention, say to Syria, though having one of their drones shot down over Turkey may have been a bit too much.

      Reply
    • Man on the clapham omnibus

      My dear Mr Dread. Evidence is not a value judgement, it doesn’t become valid or invalid simply because you wish it to be ignored. One shouldn’t bury ones head in the sand so readily Mr dread, else someone may mistake part of you for a place to park their bike and make you look something of a fool.

      The report has, judging by the content of the worlds media, and your Bonnie Langford-esque pouting made quite the splash. Now if you find nothing of note of the report or it doesn’t chime with what you dearly wish believe so be it. Entirely up to you but then you are the same randy dread who insisted that no one trusted or read bellingcat any more. Funny, I could have sworn I saw that Higgins chap on the news just the other day…still, I’m sure you’re right…

      …It’s just that you are faced with the unenviable position of being able to support any of your assertions with any facts.

      Alas Mr Dread you have yet to reach a position in life where your displeasure at a fact isn’t enough to render the world stupefied to it. While that may be galling on the one hand it is unfortunately true.

      Russia has blood on its hands. You may play the Kim Philby all you wish, frankly I think I flatter you with the comparison.

      Reply
      • Randy Dread

        blah blah. of course Higgins is on what we call the news.

        try getting his crap to stand up in a court of law.

        Reply
        • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

          Well. You evidently find it to be grist for your mill Mr Dread, given your apparent permanent residence on the site.

          Reply
    • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

      “as to whether the Ukrainian armed forces are responsible, there’s considerably more evidence for that than any other scenario.”

      Well then Mr Dread. Perhaps you would like to share this evidence here?

      Reply
      • Randy Dread

        yes. lots of Buks capable of firing exactly this type of missile,. in the war zone, owned by Ukraine.

        Reply
        • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

          Capability is not evidence. You have the capacity for intelligent thought and discourse. The evidence of your posts indicates that you wish to abdicate from this.

          Ukraine has BUKs. You have presented no evidence (nor does any evidence exist) that they have fired any of them.

          Reply
          • Wolf Angel

            Or that Ukraine’s BUKs were operational. The operational units were sold to Georgia and India. The Ukrainians don’t have BUKs in military units in operational status. They keep remaining BUKs presumably as maintenance parts for their arms trading partners.

          • Andrew

            Wolf Angel:

            “Or that Ukraine’s BUKs were operational. The operational units were sold to Georgia and India. The Ukrainians don’t have BUKs in military units in operational status.”

            If they are not operational, then why did Ukraine bother to drag is BUK’s from Lugansk out of the Donbass in March of 2014 and then drag them back to Kramatorsk in July of 2014? And its BUK’s from Donetsk and Mariupol?

            Why are their videos published on the internet of its BUK’s from 2014 deployed as part of the ATO?

        • boggled

          Randy, with all of the Kremlin’s hard workers helping them, they have no (zilch,nada) evidence of Ukrainian BUKs even deployed on July 17 or even a couple days prior.

          NONE.

          Yes, it is their right to do supply air defense to their country, but Kremlin defenders have not posted one from that week, just some SBU video that was made in the June – 1st week of July time frame.

          And no, the Russian MoD satellite images are not prove, since they have already been proven seriously flawed.

          ZILCH Randy.
          Do you have some no one else has seen?
          Are you privy to some time machine that can go around and 007 images of Ukrainian BUK’s up for us?

          I sure would love to see it.
          And to others comment makers, Randy has produced some circumstantial possible evidence before.
          Not proof, but at least it was something.
          So I give him the benefit of the doubt and wait patiently.

          Fare thee well

          Reply
    • Wolf Angel

      Oddly enough, Russia’s alternative makes the mistake of still placing the BUK launcher 5-6 kilometers inside Seprussians territory.

      Reply
      • Andrew

        Wolf Angel:

        “Oddly enough, Russia’s alternative makes the mistake of still placing the BUK launcher 5-6 kilometers inside Seprussians territory.”

        Actually, the territory Russia showed them in was controlled by the Ukrainians after July 15 up to August 21 of 2014.

        http://kremlintroll.nl/?p=569#more-569

        Reply
  4. Tourist

    Bellingcat, can you please also compare your and correctiv’s localisation of the buk Launch Site with Report Pages 143 bottom to page 146 top? I think ist fits well totgeher!

    Reply
    • Just a A

      The correctiv launch site north of Snizhne (48.057401 38.751161) is outside the area identified by the NLR. The launch site indicated by the launch photo, the US image and journalists on the ground (and assumed as most plausble by Bellingcat, 47.974021 38.762797) south of Snizhne is within the NLR, Kiev Research Institute for Forensic Expertise and the Almaz Antey launch estimated for a9M38M1 using the DSB detonation point.

      Reply
        • Just a A

          Distance between the border of the NLR area and the launch site north of Snizhne is >1.5km, the launch site south of Snizhne is well within the three named launch areas.

          Reply
          • Dan Seven

            We all know what happened here. Can we really buy that the raw radar data in Ukrainian Territory had no value for them to keep ?
            This is why the launchers were in Ukraine to begin with, and the radar data is used to track Ukraine Military flights to determine launcher placement.
            Soon the Soldiers of the Russian Federation that pressed the button will show up, at which point Putin will face that He is hiding a War again..as well as a War Crime. Lies are lies no matter how many times you tell them…or, like Hitler,even if you can get an entire country to believe them.

          • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

            No, it would appear that they aren’t. This fact has been evidenced by your numerous posts on your apparent inability to surmise that if an object has been photographed and/or filmed on both sides of a border it must have passed over that border.

  5. Pepo

    Russian MOD should be tried as well for manufacturing false flags and lying to the world in the fave if the victims. Only unanimous world countríes isolation against russia will promote internal rebelión in Russia until the fall of a endemic mafia state

    Reply
    • Randy Dread

      Russia is far too powerful and you will never get any such consensus.

      At the end of the day countries like Ukraine are meaningless pawns in international affairs.

      They are thrown away at the drop of a hat.

      Nobody really wants them in the first place.

      Reply
      • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

        Mr Dread. Xenophobia is not a badge of honour.

        The Ukrainians are a nation of people who are seeking to remove themselves from the sphere of influence of Russia. Given the fact that Russia has annexed the Crimea and sought to influence it’s affairs it would seem apparent that it very much did want them in the first place.

        It seems that you subscribe to the doctrine that might is right. I disagree. Russia is a country clinging to a failed system of Tsarist politics and those that run it have too much to lose for self determination to become the reality in a neighbouring state.

        Reply
        • Randy Dread

          Ukrainians aren’t really a nation.

          There are certainly West Ukrainians, who are very nationalistic to put it kindly, fascist to put it more realistically.

          How is their new Ukraine going for them? Is it working out well? Is the EU buying all their wonderful products?

          Reply
          • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

            Ukraine is on a far brighter path then that which Russia was offering.

          • Jean Hébert

            Ukraine is the theatre of color revolution brought by US Dept. State with CIA since around 2005. 5 Billions$ spent in doing so that exploded with the Maidan massacre (false flag) to oust Yanokovich, the legit president although associated with mafia. Well, sine the independence of Ukraine, all the presidents are oligarchs that sunk Ukraine to it’s bankruptcy state. The US uses Ukraine and the EU ti draw a wedge between Russia and the Eu and doing so is now killing the people and tries to get the ressources there. Putin has played the game well and is the winner. Let’s hope that the peace accord is implemented and that the Xright, neo-fachist, Banderites are put in the trash bin, so that Ukraine can aspire to regain prosperity without fascists implication.

          • Wolf Angel

            Ukraine’s agricultural exports are up, and they are slowly regaining a vibrant export trade with new partners, despite Russia’s attempts to economically cripple them. While the modern Russia was the Duchy of Muscovy relegated to a tiny fraction of its current size, modern Ukraine was the Kyivian-Rus empire, once the most powerful on the continent,mand occupying Crimea for several centuries, much longer than current Russia has.

            Even after the Red Army White Army wars that resulted in the Soviet era Ukraine republic, it was a state within the Soviet. When the UN was formed Ukraine had its own vote. In 1945. Russia didn’t get a vote until 1991 in the UN.

            Oh, and Russia’s new friend China? They buy a lot of Ukrainian exports, and are investing heavily in Ukraine.

          • Tourist

            Randy and Jean Must be St.Petersburg Trolls. Good englisch Language Skills means there a good Salärs. So they do everything for their Hero Patin.

      • Jean Hébert

        I’m not from St-Petersburgh (no Troll), Ukraine is in trouble cause the IMF in in. They’ll be paying the gas bill this winter on the you pay/we ship basis. China is profiting the opportunity presented by the US/NATO destabilization has created. I’m sorry that Ukraine has to endure this drama. Look to M-E, USA has done it again and destroy everything it goes by; acting as a falling empire.

        Reply
  6. Randy Dread

    Man on the Clapham Omnibus – October 16th, 2015
    No, it would appear that they aren’t. This fact has been evidenced by your numerous posts on your apparent inability to surmise that if an object has been photographed and/or filmed on both sides of a border it must have passed over that border.

    Goodness, what pompous posts.

    My position is that I don’t accept that the same objects have been photographed on different sides of the border.

    Nor has a single Western intelligence agency endorsed any claims that any Russian military vehicles such as Buks have crossed the border.

    Reply
    • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

      Once again Mr Dread, it seems apparent that physics and indeed basic logic are seemingly beyond you. The Russian humanitarian convoy, for example, did not cross the Russian border?

      Furthermore, Western Intelligence agencies aren’t in the habit of endorsing anything. NATO, the organisation into which Western intelligence agencies send information have, however, continuously stated that Russian arms have crossed the border. Evidently you think that there is more to be gained from feigning ignorance.

      Reply
      • Randy Dread

        the humanitarian convoy and many other such convoys did cross the border.

        I admire Russia’s balls for doing that.

        Reply
        • karloe

          Duh, they are delivering ammo and spare parts, and use some spare space for Humanitarian Aid, and don’t allow inspection.

          The Russian Claim, that “checks” have been made, are based on thin Air, Ukrainian Border Control have had no Access to the Cargo, and the same is True for the OSCE.

          Reply
          • Randy Dread

            The cargos are inspected by Ukrainian border guards.

            They contain only aid.

          • Andrea

            No, if i remember correctly just the first few cargos were inspected by the ICRC, then no more inspections….
            (ICRC= international commitee of red cross)

            We trust in Vova’s speech….and he said no russians were overtaking crimea….but we all trust his words 😉

          • Andrea

            Can you prove what you said ?

            “inspected by Ukrainian border guards”

            Cause russia just stated that ukraine will never be allowed to regain control on donbass border 😉

    • boggled

      Randy, how long have you been part of AF?
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchist_Federation_(Britain_and_Ireland)

      Did you have these thoughts in your head start with Grace Slick? The Baaaytles? Sid and Nancy?
      Or was it just from being a failure as a Defender in the courts that you decided to buck authority?

      You certainly give the impression of someone from another Reality that just refuses to believe his senses.
      Did you have too many sugar cubes?
      I just do not understand your reasoning.
      Maybe you can help us with the man that likes to pretend to be the stick in the mud that refuses to accept simple proven facts, but will go out of your way to believe less than half truths from a bunch of organized criminals pretending to run a nation.

      Or was it something else like your brother convincing you to allow him to use your head as he practiced his rendition of Todd Rundgren’s “Bang the Drum All Day” ??
      Inquiring minds would like to know, and a few psychologists as well.

      Fare thee well

      Reply
    • Tourist

      So something what can Drive by Inseln, something what can be Transported on a Truck can’ be photographed on different Locations? Interesting….

      Reply
    • boggled

      Well Randy, you live in a country that has no Killer bees.
      But just yesterday you found a hive of them in your back yard.
      You work in customs inspections protecting United Kingdom’s borders, but you have never seen a killer bee at work.
      And none of your coworkers have seen them or evidence of them.

      Now please explain to me how your killer bees got into the United Kingdom into your back yard without crossing the border?

      Fare thee well

      Reply
  7. Randy Dread

    Man on the Clapham Omnibus – October 16th, 2015
    Ukraine is on a far brighter path then that which Russia was offering.

    Ukraine is already a failed state.

    Russia is doing just fine. Russia is a world power, Ukraine is nothing.

    Reply
    • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

      Well what you lack in knowledge you made up for with brevity. Small mercies.

      Reply
      • Randy Dread

        tell me what prospects Ukraine has, other than bumming money off the IMF and paying it back in far worse conditions for its citizens.

        tell me what power Ukraine exerts in the world.

        i’m all ears.

        Reply
        • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

          Ukraine who can now spill the beans on every order made by the Russian military for which they were a supplier over the last twenty years? One imagines that information might be useful to one or two.

          You otherwise misunderstand what Ukraine offers. It offers expansion opportunities for European manufacturers and suppliers. In turn it offers, in time, for their citizens
          opportunities to improve their livelihoods, health care and infrastructure. These are opportunities that would never have been forthcoming under the yoke of Russian influence. It also offers a strategically important staging area for NATO.

          Ukraine is anything but a failed state, it wasn’t able to be a state in any meaningful sense of the word until now. Now it is and in becoming so it is also the crack in the glass of Putin’s Cold War snow globe.

          Reply
          • Randy Dread

            Ukraine’s orders from Russia are no secret.

            Recently they supplied what will likely be their last significant order.

            A hundred or so helicopter engines.

            Ukraine is not needed by European manufacturers. There is plenty of cheap labour already.

            Nor was there anything stopping European manufacturers from investing there before.

            Ukraine is definitely a failed state. It is defaulting on its debt, does not control parts of its territory and has independent armed groups defying the authorities in both west and east.

            Ukraine has been trying to attract investment for over a year now with the US promoting it, but nobody is interested.

          • Andrea

            little presumptuous ignorant…
            Do you know that some of the eastern countries of europe and all over the world are full of soviet/russian military hardware…ukraine will produce spare parts for them…

            Don’t you know that Yanukovichh was outed cause he seemed not to want to sign an agreement with EU … that was the key allowing europeans to invest in ukraine … leave them time as now they are pretty messed up cause of Vova’s actions…

          • Andrew

            Man on the CO:

            “It also offers a strategically important staging area for NATO.”

            Supposedly NATO is a defensive alliance, so it would be wonderful to know why it needs a staging area in the far east of the European landmass.

            Of course that is what this conflict is really about – Russia preventing its own encirclement by a NATO hellbent on world domination and the decomposition of the Russian Federation into a couple of dozen independent statelets.

            “Ukraine is anything but a failed state, it wasn’t able to be a state in any meaningful sense of the word until now.”

            I will act the prophet for a moment now. When this is all over, there will not be a state of Ukraine and Russia will have a new border further to the west.

        • karloe

          Crimea has Oil and Gas, already producing fields, now being “abused” by Russia, after the annexation of Crimea by the little green men in 2013.

          One Putin denied there where those LGM, but ± 6 months later he confirmed their involvement…

          And Ukraine has a large Agricultural Area, could be a Large supplier, but those russian supported separatists block that part as well.

          Also, russia is hurting itself, they used production companies in UA, robbed some, to rebuild in rf, but production knowledge is gone, left behind in UA.

          Reply
          • Randy Dread

            Crimea does not currently have any producing oil or gas fields.

            Sure, Russia used to buy things made in Ukraine, but that was mainly to help Ukraine.

            Now Russia will build things for itself and Ukraine’s industries will be finished. Nobody else needs them so they will all close.

  8. UKUKRMAN

    Let’s cut the crap and get to the point shall we….. Russia has lied and lied and lied and been given the opportunity to smooth out the details for their own ends and still the details come down to a Russian made and supplied buk being fired by ‘rebels’ as being the cause of mh17 shot down… It’s the end….

    Russian military fabricated false evidence in every way shape and form over and over again in order to protect the authorities who supplied the rebels with the missile’s

    Facts that were known to Putin…..

    The blood of 280 dead people is dripping from his hands

    There can be no misunderstanding

    Putin authorized their death

    Putin is a murderer

    The penalty is death

    Reply
  9. Randy Dread

    Meanwhile Ford’s first entirely Russian built Ford car rolled off production lines in Russia’s Naberezhnye Chelny city.

    It;s Ford’s third large plant in Russia and was commissioned in February 2015.

    Reply
      • Randy Dread

        it demonstrates that nobody is investing in Ukraine.

        but they are investing in Russia.

        Reply
        • boggled

          http://tech.co/4-damn-good-reasons-startup-ukraine-2015-04

          Happy reading Randy, and those listed are just a few of the recent investments that have paid off.
          There are many others.

          45 million people all willing to work hard.
          All with the brains that were behind the Soviet machine, it was not Moscow.
          Moscow was just some capital like DC, bunch of politicians.

          So your wrong about peoples preference’s, and if you have not noticed, investment in RF is at an all time low.
          Also, airplane flights to Russia are being closed left and right, no one wants to fly there.
          About the only steady carrier that crosses the borders is Aeroflot, and they are not doing so well either.

          So Randy, you can talk a good game, but when it comes down to brass tacks, you have none.

          Fare thee well

          Reply

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