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Zaroshchens’ke Revisited: Almaz-Antey’s New Launch Areas

February 29, 2016

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Download the full report here: Zaroshchens’ke Revisited: Almaz-Antey’s New Launch Areas stock_save_pdf

Данный отчет также доступен на русском языке stock_save_pdf

The cause of the crash of MH17 was investigated by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB). In their final report, presented on 13 October 2015, the DSB identified a 9M38 series missile, launched from a Buk surface-to-air missile launcher positioned in an area near Snizhne, as the cause of the crash. This finding has been criticized by Russia. Almaz-Antey, the successor to the original producer of the Buk M1, had already published its own calculations, including a proposed launch area, on 2 June 2015. The DSB report indicates that these findings were forwarded to them. On 13 October 2015, just hours before the DSB’s presentation, Almaz-Antey presented new findings, including the results of a live explosion test performed on the ground. The new Almaz-Antey presentation also included two new launch areas, one for a 9M38 missile and one for a 9M38M1 missile.

The plausibility of the first launch area presented by Almaz-Antey was already discussed in a previous Bellingcat investigation. That investigation analyzed situation maps, satellite imagery, and press reports from the area and arrived at the following main conclusions: The Almaz-Antey launch area presented on 2 June 2015 was under Russian control, and there were no Ukrainian troops in the area on 17 July 2014. Also, there were no Ukrainian Buks in the proposed launch area on 17 July 2014. However, there is not enough information to reject a missile launch from the area. Because there are relevant differences between Almaz-Antey’s old launch area and its two new launch areas, it should be asked whether these conclusions still hold for the new launch areas. This question is covered in this report.

The preceding investigation on the alleged Zaroshchens’ke launch area primarily based its conclusions on three sources of information: press reports from the area after the downing of MH17, situation maps depicting forces controlling the area, and satellite imagery to assess the situation on the ground. This report also draws upon the information presented in the preceding report. However, additional information is also introduced. This includes new press reports and a closer look at two villages of special interest: Shaposhnykove and Velyka Shyshivka. Given the relocation of the Almaz-Antey launch areas, the importance of both villages for the assessment has increased.

Applying the same evaluation principles that were already applied to the Zaroshchens’ke launch area in the previous Bellingcat study mentioned above, it is possible to reject the claim that Ukrainian troops were present on 17 July in the launch area for the 9M38M1 missile. It is also possible to reject the claim that a Ukrainian Buk was in the area on that day. The rejections of both hypotheses substantiate that a potential missile launch from this area could not have been performed by a Ukrainian Buk. But it is possible to go further and assess that even a missile launch from this area can be rejected.

The assessment for the alleged launch area for the 9M38 missile does not allow for the rejection of the claim that Ukrainian troops were in the area on 17 July 2014. However, it can be rejected that a Ukrainian Buk was in the launch area. A missile launch from the area is considered highly unlikely, but there was not enough evidence to reject a missile launch from this area completely.

Read the full report for more details: Zaroshchens’ke Revisited: Almaz-Antey’s New Launch Areas

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  1. John Zenwirt

    “Kremlin Falls for Its Own Fake Satellite Imagery”

    “Russian-Photoshopped footage of MH17 was accidentally picked up by Putin’s Defense Ministry to (falsely) argue that one of its jets never entered Turkish airspace.”

    “The Russian Ministry of Defense was duped by a fake image that Russian state media itself had circulated more than a year earlier, as a way to deny Moscow’s involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.”

    “…two Iranian news outlets—one of them belonging to the Basij paramilitary force; the other to the Revolutionary Guards Corps-linked Fars News—and Cumhurriyet, a Turkish newspaper, ran stories taking the fake Sputnik’s lampoon as a genuine piece of Russian government-submitted evidence. Subsequently, another site called “” ran its own version.”

    “The story was then picked by a Ukrainian blogger known for revealing fake news items, and by the Russian Ministry of Defense’s own media organ, TV Zvezda, which seized on it as the perfect gotcha to exculpate the SU-24 and to denounce the perfidious Western press for blaming poor Russia for another mid-air disaster.”

    “The Russian government fooled itself with its own outmoded lie.” (DailyBeast)

  2. Colf

    By reading the very first statements, i wish to know how these bellincat guys can be certain no ukrainian buk was in that area… Almaz antey is state controlled true… But how can they make their first arguements based on the fact that because it is state controlled it cannot be a valid arguement? I didnt even care to read through because from the start one already knows that bellincat cat isnt trying to prove who did it… Bellincat already has it in mind that the Russians did it, and just want to prove so, even if it means twisting fact to fit their narrative… Please give us a clear picture… Dont choose a side and then try to show that the onther did it…

    • JustaA

      major spoiler: If you don´t read the report, you don´t will never get the answer.


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