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MH17 – Drivers of the Russian June and July 2014 Buk Convoy Trucks

June 5, 2017

By Daniel Romein

Translations: Русский

The full report can be read here 

On 13 May 2015, Bellingcat published a report about the involvement of the Russian 2nd Automobile Battalion of the 69th Separate Logistics Brigade (military unit 11385) and the 147th Automobile Battalion for Material Support (military unit 83466) in the transport of Buk unit vehicles of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade in a convoy that left on 23 June 2014 from Marshala Zhukova near Kursk and arrived in Millerovo on 25 June 2014. This convoy transported a Buk missile launcher with unit designation 332, previously known as ‘Buk 3×2’. Bellingcat has published multiple reports asserting that this Buk missile launcher downed Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) on 17 July 2014.

Photographs uploaded on the Russian-language social network Vkontakte (VK) by soldier-drivers of the 2nd and 147th Automobile Battalions show trucks and trailers with the same license plates as vehicles that took part in the convoy filmed and photographed between 23 and 25 June 2014. These photos also show transport of other kinds of military equipment to the Russia-Ukraine border, including, for example, near Mityakinskaya in the Rostov Oblast. One soldier-driver named Dmitry Z. uploaded a photograph of his truck and Buk missile launcher 232 of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade on 24 June 2014. Geolocation of this photograph shows it was taken near Varvarovka on R185, a road that the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy had taken. Additional photographs uploaded by Dmitry Z. show other possible drivers of the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy, one of them likely being the driver who transported Buk 332 from Marshala Zhukova to Millerovo.

Left: Buk missile launcher 232 on a trailer hauled by truck ‘6902 HH 50’ near Varvarovka, 24 June 2014. Right: Buk missile launcher 232 hauled by truck ‘6902 HH 50’ in a video filmed near Alexeyevka, 24 June 2014.

The last part of that report describes the route and destination of the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy that transported Buk unit vehicles of the 2nd Battalion of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, as well as the route and destination of a 19-21 July 2014 Buk convoy that transported Buk unit vehicles of the 1st Battalion of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade. The first convoy was last filmed when entering Millerovo and likely was on its way to a temporary military base in Millerovo, while Buk 332 was later transported to the Russia-Ukraine border near Donetsk, Russia and from there into Ukraine. The second convoy likely headed further to a military camp southwest of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky.

This new report focuses on the drivers of the June and July 2014 Buk convoy trucks and, in particular, the truck that transported Buk 332. The truck has the license plate ‘4267 AH 50’ and its trailer has the license plate ‘XP 4679 50.’ This report also describes additional possible drivers of the truck(s) that could have transported Buk 332 from Millerovo to the Russia-Ukraine border. Bellingcat has discovered that trucks of the same military unit (11385) and an additional group of drivers were present in Millerovo around mid-July 2014. In September 2014, several trucks of unit 11385 were in Millerovo, again accompanied by a different group of drivers, although some of them took part in previous driver groups as well. Apart from this finding, also previously undiscovered videos are detailed of the same truck and trailer that transported Buk 332, filmed at the end of July 2014, transporting a tank, which was later seen in the Luhansk Oblast in Ukraine.

Seven soldier-drivers were identified from Dmitry’s photographs (one soldier’s photograph found, but not identified), who very likely were drivers in the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy that transported Buk 332 from Kursk to Millerovo.

Two 16 July 2014 photographs stitched together, showing a southern area of a military camp in eastern Millerovo with twelve parked KamAZ trucks, among them truck ‘4267 AH 50’, that transported Buk 332 in the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy. One of these trucks was likely used for the transport of Buk 332 to the Russia-Ukraine border.


  • The 69th Separate Logistics Brigade (unit 11385) was involved in transporting Buk unit vehicles to several areas along the Ukraine-Russia border in the 23-25 June and 19-21 July 2014 Buk convoys. Soldier-drivers of the 1st Automobile Battalion of this unit (subunit 11385-2), located in Kalininets, were drivers of the trucks in the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy. A different group of soldier-drivers from the same subunit was possibly involved in the 19-21 July 2014 Buk convoy.
  • Soldier-driver Dmitry Z. transported Buk missile launcher 232 in the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy. Six other soldier-drivers, visible on photographs of Dmitry Z., were identified and also were almost certainly involved in the transport of Buk unit vehicles in the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy.
  • Several group photographs identified additional soldier-drivers who might have been involved in the transport of Buk unit vehicles in the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy.
  • No definitive conclusion can be made as to the driver of truck ‘4267 AH 50’ in the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy, which transported Buk 332. A few soldier-drivers uploaded photographs where truck ‘4267 AH 50’ is visible, among them one soldier-driver, who almost certainly was a driver in the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy.
  • No conclusion can be made regarding which truck transported Buk 332 to the Russia-Ukraine border, very likely in the night of 16 to 17 July 2014, or which driver was involved. Almost all of the soldier-drivers who were involved in the June 2014 Buk convoy officially ended their military service in the end of June or early July 2014, although the social network profiles of several soldier-drivers do not clarify when they returned home after military service.
  • A different group of soldier-drivers from unit 11385-2 was in a military camp in eastern Millerovo in July 2014. This group of drivers, unlike the group of drivers of the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy, was involved in the transport of military equipment from Voronezh to Mityaskanskaya on 19 June 2014, before their arrival in Millerovo. It’s possible that some of these drivers were involved in the 19-21 July 2014 Buk convoy, as a few soldier-drivers of this group were drivers of trucks in the July 2014 Buk convoy.
  • Two other soldier-drivers of unit 11385, who arrived on or just before 11 July 2014 in the same military camp in eastern Millerovo, uploaded photographs between 12 and 20 July 2014 of trucks of unit 11385-2 that were parked in a southern area of the military camp in eastern Millerovo. Two of these trucks were in the 19-21 July 2014 Buk convoy. Two other trucks were in the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy, one of them truck ‘4267 AH 50’, the truck that transported Buk 332. A photograph uploaded on 20 July 2014 of another truck that was in the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy with license ‘3388 AY 50’, shows a tarped Buk missile launcher, possibly from the 2nd Battalion of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade.
  • The soldier-drivers of unit 11385, who were in the military camp in July 2014 possibly know the identity of the driver of the truck that transported Buk 332 to the Ukraine-Russia border, as one of the trucks of unit 11385 that was parked in the military camp in eastern Millerovo was likely used for this transport.
  • Videos of a military convoy that transported tanks in the direction of Rostov-on-Don on 28 July 2014 show several trucks and trailers that were in the 23-25 June 2014 and/or 19-21 July 2014 Buk convoys. Truck ‘4267 AH 50’, the truck that transported Buk 332 in the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy, hauls in the convoy of 28 July 2014 a trailer with license ‘XP 4679 50’, just as in the 23-25 June 2014 Buk convoy. In case the other trucks, visible in the 28 July 2014 convoy, hauled the same trailers as in the 23-25 June and 19-21 July 2014 Buk convoys, a few license plates of trucks that were in the June and July 2014 Buk convoys that were previously unknown have now been discovered.
  • Photographs on the profile of a soldier-driver make clear that he was the driver of truck ‘4267 AH 50’ in the 28 July 2014 military transport convoy.
  • In September 2014, trucks of unit 11385 were again present at the same location in a southern area of the military camp in eastern Millerovo, among these vehicles is again truck ‘4267 AH 50’.
  • In October and November 2014, several trucks of unit 11385 that were in the June and July 2014 Buk convoys were photographed at the military base of the 2nd Automobile Battalion (subunit 11385-3) of the 69th Separate Logistics Brigade. Among these vehicles is again truck ‘4267 AH 50’.

The names of the soldier-drivers in the report have been changed to pseudonyms to protect their identities and all faces of soldier-drivers in the photographs have been blurred for the same reason. The name of Dmitry Z. was not changed, because he already was described in our 2015 report about the involvement of the 69th Separate Logistics Brigade in transport of military equipment to the Russia-Ukraine border and the June and July 2014 Buk convoys.

An uncensored version of the report including full names and uncensored photographs has been shared with the MH17 Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

Daniel Romein

Daniel Romein is an IT-specialist and started in 2014 as open source investigator focused on the MH17 case and the conflict in Ukraine. Co-winner of the 2019 European Press Prize (Investigative Reporting Award).

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  1. Ukukraman

    These reports on the movements of launchers and tow trucks are highly informative if not entirely conclusive but are most definitely indicative of the supply of Russian equipment and personnel to the territory Ukrainian territory held by rebel forces and hopefully the information in these reports is thoroughly analysed by the MH 17 investigative team….

    I would go one step further to put copies directly in the hands of every countries UN representative so they are reminded every time they look across the conference room at the Russian representative, that he is straight faced lying to them when he denies the presence of Russian military personnel and equipment on Ukrainian territory.

    • Paul

      Both UN and OSCE are unable to do anything except sanction Russia. And NATO high command had ordered numerous Predator drone and AWACS aircraft fly-bys near Crimea and Donbass to gather information for themselves, hence their recent relocation of troops and materiel to Eastern Europe and Baltic countries, with additional training performed there afterwards.
      We can only hope this conflict will not blow up into something bigger.

      • stranger

        There is Minsk, which is supposed to solve the conflict in a peaceful way. Minsk assumes the elections in Donbas and decentralization of power. It is Ukraine who is sabotaging Minsk for already two years.

        • Dr. Da

          First point of Minsk foresees the stop of military fighting and the withdrawal of heavy weapons. This has unfortunately still not happened, and the OSCE reporting is very clear that the majority of fighting is started by the Russian-backed separatists.
          Good that people don’t give up and continue to put the pieces of the puzzle of MH17 together, also good that they provide the full names etc. only to the international investigators and not to the troll crowd.

          • stranger

            “OSCE reporting is very clear that the majority of fighting is started by the Russian-backed separatists.”
            No that is also not true. OSCE reports that both sides are violating the cease fire. And moreover the recent Ukrainian tactic was the so called creeping offense where Ukraine tried to occupy the grey nobodies zone between the sides and push the rebels further.
            Ukraine can endlessly violate the cease fire and blame the other side. There are the demands to allow elections in Donbas, exchange prisoners, grant amnesty, only then the border is transferred to the control of Ukraine according to Minsk. Ukraine has done nothing from that and claims they are not going to do anything. Instead Ukraine introduced the trade and financial blockade of that region and fire on the cities from heavy weapon in acute phases.

      • John

        “We can only hope this conflict will not blow up into something bigger” — exactly what Putin is counting on. Frozen conflict means denial of NATO membership. It is in the bylaws. Putin does not want the conflict to explode. Thus his efforts at putting Trump in the White House. Now that his “buddy” is already considering removing sanctions, why would they move to resolve something in their favor?

  2. trak

    Of course every russian troop movement is conducted with air defense systems like BUK or Pantsir systems.
    But you only show movement inside Russia.
    There is no proof that russian army vehicles moved into Ukraine.
    And there is no proof beyond reasonable doubt that MH17 was shot down by a BUK system.
    You need to prove both allegations, but you only talk about standard movement of BUK inside Russia.
    That´s all!?

    • Olaf

      It’s a pity you haven’t read earlier reports from Bellingcat that confirm the transport of the BUK to Torrez the 17. and back again the same day. Besides, it is now beyond any doubt that the MH17 was shot down by a missille from a BUK, according to the international investigation team.

      • trak

        Which date these videos are?
        Why quality is so bad?
        Where are the complete videos?
        Were these videos ever checked about manipulations?
        And why do bellingcat thinks that they are russian if these videos aren´t manipulated?
        Pantsir S1 was exported too many countries unlike BUK systems.

      • muchandr

        Are you suggesting the Pantsir are relevant to MH17 investigation? They only officially have a range of some 25 km and use a much smaller missile. If you claim a missile that small, you’ve got to dust up the AA missile a fighter jet launched. also.

        It is the sheer amount of damage done to the plane that favored the Buk.

  3. Dagfinn A. Mork

    For ident Stranger; the Minsk accords are not fully complete and such ideal for Russia as a tool to not maje peace.
    Mist notably there is no sequence of when which measure in the accord, making it possible to claim the other part to implement theirs first. A classic stalemate and which I suspect Ukraine today would not have accepted as they are not so weak and readily pushed around by Russia, France and Germany which at that time had a shared interest in bossing Ukraine around.

    • stranger

      The general fighting is ceased. Minsk keeps Ukraine from the major offense up to “not to pass Russian border” and probably keeps the rebels from capturing the upskirts of the besieged cities. The provocations on the separation line are done from the both sides but are local enough. The main idea of Minsk is to start negotiations, conduct the elections and recognize the rebels as the legal representatives of their region. Why? Because they do represent the citizens of their region to some or another extent. And that is exactly what Ukraine sighed for in Minsk. But practically that is what Ukraine categorically doesn’t want to do.l and cannot really pass through parliament. That is the stalemate, the inability and the absence of motivation for Ukraine to recognize the rebels as a negotiable side.
      This stalemate is not beneficial for Russia in any way. Just may be only makes it difficult for Ukraine to enter NAT0, but NAT0 instructors are anyway in Ukraine. Ukraine introduced blockade of Donbas, the hot spot allows Ukraine to cry about “Russian aggression” and claim money, media support and other benefits from the west. The west silently encourage Ukraine to this game and play – Russia should implement Minsk. That is a kind of a game around Minsk – who is to blame in the stall.
      The stable calm and pro Russian Ukraine is what would be beneficial for Russia. The current stalemate is definitely hurts Russia, while in some respects is beneficial for Ukraine. While Ukraine itself is not uniform and there are a lot of pro Russian people, so this fight will actually be going between differently oriented people of Ukraine itself.

      • Dr. Da

        I sincerely hope that there will be free elections in Donbass according to OSCE standards, as foreseen by Minsk. This means i.a. no violence, no threat of violence, free access to media, free campaigning, respect of valid national election legislation, long-term and short-term OSCE election observers. And all residents registered in these areas before the conflict (and only them) have the right to vote in these local elections. Would be really interesting to see how Zakharchenko & Co would fare under such free and fair conditions. My guess it that it would rather be some Party of Regions offspring who would win.
        Many of them have been quite massively kicked in the a** by Moscow, so no great love lost there on either side. Probably more risky of a gamble for Moscow (and likely also for Kiev) than the fairly expensive status quo.
        In any case, the “russkiy mir” is over.
        (And please don’t mix up OSCE reports with Russian state TV. Go to their web site and read the reports, they are worth it.)

        • stranger

          Ironically the elections under Ukrainian control wouldn’t be free either. Some in Ukraine are saying 5-6 years should pass after the returning Ukrainian control at Donbas before any elections can be held, other answer 20-30 years. Most of the people at Donbas really don’t support Kiev, and most of all for those shellings and killings.
          Don’t bury the “Russian world”, there is a loud aggressive anti Russian position of the current Kiev, supported by the west against Russia, but there are many and many people in Ukraine who are silent so far and who don’t want to cut all ties with Russia. Most of those people live in Donbas, Odessa and other south east cities. In 1918 when ukkie na3y invited Germans to occupy Ukraine they thought the Russian world is over, in 1941 marching in Nakhtigal and Galitchina SS detachments they thought Russian world is over. The time has shown they were wrong. Even though they got to the power now again. It is not over. Time should have passed for the dust to settle down.

          • Dr. Da

            Do you understand the difference between Ukrainian control and OSCE control?!?
            You’re clearly not interested in facts and arguments, instead again Galitchina SS etc. Off topic, repetitive and crap.
            If I were your boss I wouldn’t count any posts where you reply to yourself for your remuneration – just gives a sick impression.
            But perhaps you’re just a poorly programmed bot?

          • stranger

            When prevents Ukraine from allowing elections now under “OSCE control” as prescribed by Minsk agreements? Ukraine doesn’t want to allow elections in Donbas because it knows that would lose any election there. Instead Ukraine would clean up all separatists and people who support them and even slightest sympathy to the them before and if it would ever allow elections. So people would have nobody to vote for, all not single Ukraine candidates will be killed or prisoned as separatists first. But most probably elections is just a Minsk game for them, if they return control over Donbas, they would not even have a motivation to conduct the elections and implement the political part of Minsk agreements on the desentralisation. That why I’m saying there would be no free elections, and likely no elections at all under Ukraine.
            Your stupid personal accusations of me to be a troll are already boring. You just show yourself as a lier. I’m sure at least on this thing that you are lying, that means you are lying on other things too.

          • Dr. Da

            WHAT “prevents Ukraine from allowing elections now under “OSCE control”? Look up the reports of the OSCE observer mission! Shootings, killed and wounded people every day!
            Is this missing in your programme?

          • stranger

            Killed peoples every day is because Ukraine doesn’t want to implement Minsk and fire on densely populated cities from heavy weapon and trying to occupy grey zone pushing the rebels further. What prevents Ukraine from stopping fire, and conducting the elections with the OSCE and whatever international observers as Minsk agreements demand which Ukraine signed but don’t want or cannot implement?

          • Dr. Da

            Just one tip from your beta tester: include reading OSCE reports into your programme. After the upgrade try to come back with talk about stopping fire.

        • stranger

          The thing is, you in Ukraine, and I believe you Dr.Da is Ukrainian, are trying to build mono ethnic nationslistic state of Ukraine. You are playing with fire, because more you push people to comply to your new ideology and learn Ukrainian language which has never been shared by all quite anarchic and heterogeneous Ukrainian society, more resistance you would face from that society. Right now the Ukrainian society is unified by the war, when the war is over, this spring will be more and more tense inside until it explodes. I don’t think you have managed or will manage to turn Ukraine into a completely anti Russian world even with the help of the west which is very interested to tear Ukraine away from Russia to weaken both. I think there would be a roll back and a revanche of pro Russian views.

          • Rascalndear

            Seems that “Stranger” and others here are trolling the Russian line. There’s not only massive evidence that a BUK was rolled into Ukraine and out again before and after the shooting down of MH17, ample evidence from weapons, aviation and forensic military experts that it was shot down by a SAM, and corroboration from both Ghirkin and a Russian news program that reported on the shooting within 10 minutes of the incident, then retracted their reports. Ghirkin’s comment made it quite clear that he was not involved in the shooting (nor could he have been as the BUK is a huge assembly that requires a trained crew of at least 6 to operate properly). Most importantly, NO MOTIVATION and no means for Ukraine to have done so. Ukraine had no anti-aircraft weaponry in the war zone because the Russian proxies weren’t using aircraft. They, however, had shot down medical helicopters evacuating the wounded and many other aircraft and clearly had anti-aircraft equipment in place.
            As to Minsk, it is a poor excuse for a peace plan as it was violated by Russia and its proxies both times within hours of being signed. Debaltseve was the most egregious example: it was taken days after the second Minsk accords and ceasefire were agreed. So don’t talk about “creeping offensive” on the part of Ukraine (reminder: you’re referring to Ukrainian territory in case you forgot), when the Russian side, with Russian troops involved, expanded territory after both Minsk signings. Without Russian regulars in the field, the war would have ended in August 2014.

          • stranger

            Ukraine did have a motivation to shot down the Boeing, and they did have buks in the east. If not directly by shooting the Boeing, then indirectly by failing to close the skyes above the war zone. Ukraine is the only side which benefited greatly from that incident to take it cynically.
            As for the Minsk, again Ukraine is intentionally but not publically sabotaging the political package of the agreements, because its trans Atlantic new masters allow them and even encourage doing that. They clearly see that Minsk is stuck because of Ukraine, but play the game to blame Russia for the Minsk stalemate instead, because they cannot openly give Ukraine a green light to wage another blood shed, but are not interested that mostly anti Kiev Donbas was independend. That is nothing more than a rhetoric, when Minsk is used for a such rhetorical political game.

          • stranger

            That is not about who is to blame for the violations of Minsk, that is about how to make it work, push out of the stalemate and move forward to the political settlement of this war.

          • stranger

            And by calling me a troll, you of course are completely blind on one eye on the multiple aggressive Ukkie trolls here.

  4. Mr White

    From this 60 page report I understand that there are some military trucks in Russia that transport military equipment.

    Did I miss anything?

  5. Mad Dog

    Ya just gotta love this stranger: then indirectly by failing to close the skyes above the war zone.
    That makes them culpable? Gee, how so. It would seem the guys who pulled the trigger are most responsible. The MH was flying above the altitude limit and there were a large number of flights in the area, including 86 Aeroflot flights that week. But the dumbasses pulling the trigger just didn’t give a f*ck about all the commercial air traffic in the area, they just wanted some fame. Poor Russian troops, if not pay at least they want a bit of notoriety. But you know that this whole subject is just BS. everyone, including dear Aeroflot thought the the extra margin of safety given by raising the flight limit to 33,000 ft. from 26,000 ft. would be sufficient for civilian aircraft, hundreds of which used similar corridors everyday. And you also know that the Ukrainian air traffic control could not close the airspace without some other movements by other authorities. Really, blame everyone but the true culprits. Very FSB-like.

    • Dr. Da

      Of course, it’s all the Ukrainians fault. If they hadn’t ousted Yanukovich, Surkov & Co wouldn’t have sent any Girkins, BUKs, etc.

    • stranger

      How about accepting that all sides were guilty and bear their part of the responsibility? Including Europeans who proposed a rather discriminating economical union to Ukraine which would have damaged economical relations with Russia and hit Russian economy even more than Ukrainian. Not the least Americans who played their role in the de facto anti Russian coup detat in the closest Russian neighbour and the historical origin of Russia as they used to do all over the globe and especially in the ME. You guys always want to reduce the picture to black and white. That never works in real life.

      • Dr. Da

        Beautiful! – If a bastard mutilates his ex-wife and threatens and injures the neighbours in the process, it is, of course, the fault of the ex-wife and of the neighbours – and perhaps, once he gets sober, he may concede that it’s also a tiny little bit his fault…

        • muchandr

          See how the narrative changes from a toss up between confused Ukrainian government troops and separatists supposedly backed by Russia to Russia proper and from accident to intent. Yet there is not really any new evidence being used, so how come?

          Note your example has a few people too many. Russians simply did not view Ukrainians as different people as themselves back in 2014, so you need to change your story to self-mutilation or explain better who the dear deceased wife is in your example. Somebody Dutch? Why? since when are Dutch and Ukrainians or Russians are that close?

  6. muchandr

    Interesting how Bellingcat and JIT report of 2018 move the presumed border crossing of Buk from Kursk 53rd from a more logical place near Luhansk to Millerovo, going all the way around Ukraine to the furthest possible point away from Kursk? You can of course film a lot of military hardware at Millerovo, because it is a major railroad hub! Just nothing from Kursk, because there was an obvious railroad link Kurk-Gorlivka (trunk on the left) for 2014 deliveries.

    There is a longer track from Kursk to Millerovo now using the white interconnector and a new section between Zhuravka-Millerovo rerouting a small section of the railroad track that used to pass through Ukraine. So there is still a direct rail link between Kursk and Millerovo. Most of the old track there goes along Russia-Ukraine border behind LDNR anyway, so it makes no point whatsoever to enter Ukraine and exit to Russia again just to unload at Millerovo.

    That rail link is a great way to send something to LDNR such that nobody in “mainland” Ukraine would notice, but only from Southern Russia, not from Kursk. Important to note that all passengers and freight on important Moscow – Adler (Sochi airport) trunk went through war-torn Ukraine anyway up until 2018!

    The latest trace moving away from obvious entry point in Luhansk krai suggest covering up for 3xx (3rd battalion) vehicles of 156th AA regiment of Ukraine officially based there. They are plentifully sighted moving around towed as well as under own power since locations involved are close to their original Luhansk barracks. Yet nobody is talking about them? They look identical to the ones Kursk 53rd has as well as vehicles that every single other Buk regiment or brigade has, both in Russia and Ukraine.


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