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JIT Publishes New Photograph of Buk 332 from Day of MH17 Downing

October 19, 2017

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Translations: Русский

Do you have more information about this photograph or the location it was taken? If so, please send information in English, Russian, or Ukrainian to the JIT via their email (contact@jitmh17.com), VK page, or WhatsApp (+31683559290). You can also comment on this article or tweet to us (@bellingcat) to discuss the geolocation of the photograph.

Today the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), the Dutch-led criminal investigation into the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) over Ukraine, published a new photograph of the Russian Buk missile launcher that downed plane from the day of the tragedy. The image shows the right side of the Buk, loaded on the back of the white Volvo truck that hauled it through eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. Also visible in the photograph is the blue Volkswagen minivan that escorted the Buk through eastern Ukraine on the same day. This anti-aircraft missile launcher is Buk 332, previously identified by Bellingcat as “Buk 3×2,” belonging to Russia’s Kursk-based 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade.

Source (higher resolution version of the image available via the JIT’s VK page)

In publishing the photograph, the JIT said that the photograph was “probably taken on July 17, 2014 in the town of Makeevka, Ukraine.” By analyzing the identifying details of the Buk in the JIT photograph and comparing it to two previous videos of the right side of Buk 332, one filmed in Russia and the other in Torez, Ukraine, it becomes clear all three materials show the same missile launcher. However, it is unclear if the photograph was actually taken in Makeevka (Makiivka in Ukrainian), located just east of Donetsk.

Reference Materials

The first of these two reference materials was filmed in Stary Oskol, Russia on June 23, 2014, uploaded to the Russian social network Vkontakte (VK) on the same day by a local. An archived copy of the video can be seen below.

A composite image showing the full filmed length of the Buk can be seen below.

The second reference material is a video published by the JIT during their September 28, 2016 press conference. The video, which was filmed in Torez, Ukraine on July 17, 2014, was purposefully obscured in order to remove details that would allow geolocation of the filmer’s position.

A detailed analysis of the identifying details of Buk 332 can be found in our report “The Lost Digit: Buk 3×2.”

Analysis

The most obvious similarity between the three images is the numerous white markings on the Buk. The fragments of the painted-over digits match up perfectly, along with the H2200 (oversized cargo code) mark on the side skirt and the gravity mark (cross-hair). The details match in both appearance and their orientation to one another.

Additionally, the netting placed over the missiles is in an identical placement as it was in the Torez video and photograph.

Only four wheels are visible in the new photograph, but they correspond to the Stary Oskol and Torez videos, showing that the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth wheels are spoked (the second, which is not visible in the image, is hollow). There are few identifying features on the side skirt in the newly published image, as the tear on the side skirt is obscured by the blue VW minivan, but the visible details match the two reference materials.

This blue VW minivan is the same one that was photographed and filmed escorting Buk 332 throughout the day of the MH17 downing. Additionally, this blue VW minivan served as an escort to a different convoy of Russian-separatist military equipment two days before the downing.

Geolocation

Update: The photograph has been geolocated to Donetsk. Please see our article here for more information.

As of the time of publication, we have not been able to conclusively geolocate the image. We will update this section after we determine the location of the photograph. The JIT said that the image was “probably” taken in Makiivka, but this is uncertain from initial analysis.

Do you have more information about this photograph or the location it was taken? If so, please send information in English, Russian, or Ukrainian to the JIT via their email (contact@jitmh17.com), VK page, or WhatsApp (+31683559290). You can also comment on this article or tweet to us (@bellingcat) to discuss the geolocation of the photograph. We are also attempting to geolocate the image through the crowdsourcing platform Check.

Conclusion

This new image is the ninth photograph or video showing Russian Buk 332 in eastern Ukraine, along with a satellite image taken on 11:08am on the day of the tragedy showing the missile launcher in Makiivka, Ukraine. While the photograph does not seem to provide us any new details shedding light on the events of July 17, 2014, it does solidify the Bellingcat’s claim made in November 2014 that Russian Buk 3×2 (now known as 332) from Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade was the murder weapon in the MH17 tragedy.

This photograph is perhaps the most detailed look we have of the right side of Buk 332 after it arrived in Ukraine, showing us how the identifying features on this side align perfectly with those seen on the right side of Buk 332 in Russia almost four weeks before the downing.

Before today, there was little room for doubt in asserting that Russia’s Buk 332 downed MH17. After today, with the ninth piece of visual evidence publicly available showing the weapon belonging to the Russian Armed Forces in eastern Ukraine, there is no room left at all for doubt.

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138 Comments

  1. Mike

    I made satellite image interpretation from those Russian areas (mentioned above) identified as places for Russian military activities cross the border. I did not find any artillery or tanks there even if I am a professional reconnaisance officer specialized to satellite and recon plane imagery. The whole Bellingcat material is 100% fabricated and I can anytime prove that also. In OSCE they know this already.
    OSCE monistors in many ways the whole border and especially places where there is a road cross the border. Not a single Russian soldier or major weapon has been seen. Every Morning few hundred men (with popular hunting unioforms) cross the border to Russia and they come back in the evening – they have a working place in Russia as OSCE has found out. Soldiers badly hurt are transported to Russia for treatment in hospitals. US Ambassador has no right to speak on behalf of OSCE – reporting it is carefully limited to the staffs only.

    The Donbass army managed to force the Kiovans to several encirclements 2014 and Kiev lost 75% from their heavy weapons. Hundreds of tanks and artillery. They have several factories in Donbass able to maintain such weapons. Nobody has seen a single Russian Army tank in Ukraine (all are Russian models).

    Reply
    • Kimmo Kannala

      Nonsense.

      T72, T72B3, T90 etc were not in Ukraine arsenal.
      So they came from russia. Same for tos-1 buratio. Pantsir-s1 etc etc.

      You have solid lying track record by now.
      So quit it.

      Reply
      • Mike

        OSCE has not seen such tanks in Donbass – only modified T-72 tanks. They have a factory modifying tanks there. I wonder what is the motivation of some people here in Bellingcat to distribute such nonsense. If those people come from Ukraine they are undermining the already weak reputation of the Kiev government concerning false information distribution. It is better to leave military analyses to the professionals. OSCE has had 500 professional military inspectors in the region and they publish weekly reports.

        Reply
        • KimmoK

          OSCE can not see everything as have very limited possibilities to monitor the area.

          And it does not change the fact that none of the 2014 seen “rebel” T72 tanks were not from Ukraine arsenal, because Ukraine had only T64 and T80 in active arsenal. All rebel T72’s were from Russian military.
          Especially T72B3 that Russia started to use first time in 2013.

          Check this to identify T72B3:
          https://www.bellingcat.com/resources/2015/05/28/tankspotting-how-to-identify-the-t-72b3/

          Reply
          • Mike

            OSCE has 500 professional military inspectors all over Donbass and the aerial cover is 100%. KimmoK seems to be nothing but a school boy. You cannot use Bellingcat pages as references. OSCE knows that these pages are 100% a joke.
            Ukraine has lots of T-72 tanks (400) and they even sell the modifying work e.g. to Poland. From Poland they received many of them originally. Most of the experts from Kharkiv tank factory moved to Donbass when the Kiev troops attacked the area. Donbass got 75% of Kievs heavy weapons from sevetral encirclements and about half of them were ready for use. (sorry I must leave these funny pages now)

          • KimmoK

            Mike, you have zero proof for your lies.

            At mid 2014 Ukraine military did not use T72 tanks, therefore none of them were captured by rebels, yet rebels had a lot of them.

            (If UA had T72 tanks in use in mid 2014, surely you can prove it? I have not found any proof UA had any in use before the autumn of 2014.)

            And therefore every OSCE detected “rebel” T72 is from Russia.
            Ukraine has never had T72B3, therefore all rebel T72B3 tanks came from “elsewhere” (only Russia had them).

            (My sources confirm T72B3 being only used by Russia in 2014 Rebels got them, how you explain?)

            Ukraine never had TOS-1, therefore OSCE detected one(s) are from Russia.
            Same for Pantsir S1 etc… all from Russia.

            (Recently OSCE managed to confirm weapons transport via train to Donbas, previously we have seen it happen only via rebel selfie photos)

            You do not need to believe in bellingcat.
            Just open your eyes and you see the same from many sources.

            https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-crisis-tanks-exclusive/exclusive-charred-tanks-in-ukraine-point-to-russian-involvement-idUSKCN0IC1GE20141023
            http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xgDkiTY6vfc/VGyKTlgnswI/AAAAAAAACSA/878YYkLNtyI/w1200-h630-p-k-no-nu/Russian%2Btank.PNG
            https://i.pinimg.com/736x/53/53/f0/5353f073d302d12070cba1b8e42cd8c8–pantsir-s-ukraina.jpg

            bellingcat material has the advantage that you typically can verify it all by yourself.

            I’m pretty sure you can not prove anything incorrect what bellingcat has identified vs T72B3 being used by proRUssians in Donbas.

            (note that OSCE try to remain “neutral” to be able to work in the area at all, therefore they rarely ID a Russian military HW)

          • Mike

            All those rumors of Russian tanks in Donbass have been seen to be fake. OSCE has no real information about any Russian heavy weapons there. The propaganda has been distributed by Bellingcat and other non-professional clubs which have not even visited the country.

            The “OSCE document” linked By KimmoK is not an authorized OSCE document but an opinion of Kiev governmental officers (and non-professional data sources). That is why there was this warning:
            “The views, opinions, conclusions and other information expressed in this document are not given nor necessarily endorsed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) unless the OSCE is explicitly defined as the Author of this document.”

          • Kimmo Kannala

            Solid geolocated photographed evidence of “invaded” RU military + HW exist from multiple reliable sources, backed up by eyeitness (like ex rebel leader) and satellite images.

            All sane people know where rebels got ~600 tanks. And why thousands of bodies have been put to unmarked graves in Donbas + Rostov etc.

      • BeReal

        So T-72 is not part of Kiev’s arsenal?
        “In the area of government-controlled Novookhtyrka (53km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM noted a convoy consisting of three main battle tanks (T-72) transported on trailers, and one infantry fighting vehicle (IFV, BMP-2) moving east.”

        So in government controlled areas, the rebels move their tanks on trailers… kind of weird.

        https://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/186276

        Reply
        • KimmoK

          Silly you.
          That info is from 2015. As stated, 2014 UA had no T72 in active service.
          In autumn/winter they had their first T72 tanks rolling in use. (Modernized from imported (belarus?) hulls).

          Reply
    • Mike

      These texts above are NOT OSCE information and OSCE denies its invelvement. I know exactly what OSCE has identified in the region. In Kiev’s area there are a big number of e.g. Polish heavy weapons. Soon the international community should allow Russia to provide weapons to Donbass, as well. Kiev is not following the Minsk agreements.
      The title is:
      “Ukraine based on information received as of 27 September 2015”.

      So this is Kiev’s propaganda. Same purpose what Bellingcat has.
      (as long as you comment my comments, the announcement comes to me)

      Reply
      • Лена

        This is from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine. The only OSCE personnel in Eastern Ukraine is SMM. Troll, go away.

        Reply
        • Mike

          No – all the OSCE pages above are not official OSCE information as they are opinions of the national governments collected and published by OSCE. National letters are not official OSCE materials. That is why there is this warning before the letter:
          “The views, opinions, conclusions and other information expressed in this document are not given nor necessarily endorsed by the OSCE…”

          Usually such materials are full propaganda without any evidence.
          I know this as a reconnaisance officer (incl. OSCE work). I would like to see any satellite or recon images which show Russian weapons – so far all have been fake ones. Lots of agricultural machinery in August they have in the fields. Stupidity is not nice in serious issues.

          Below there is a link to SMM and this is an official report. But there is no any observation on Russian weapons (TOS-1 is a common weapon in many countries). There are hundreds of photos from TOS-1 but they are usually from other war areas. The BM-21 “Grad” is common in Ukraine.

          Reply
          • Mike

            Usually BBC is a farce but not here. All the weapons there are Russian-made but as mentioned, this TOS-1 did not come from Russian Army. Probably it came originally from Poland.

            In Ukraine, there are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Kiev and Donbass, but also from OSCE and probably also from Minsk agreement countries. Russia has been ordered to “monitor the situation”. UAVs are not weapons but reconnaisance and monitoring tools.

          • EM

            “Russia has been ordered to “monitor the situation” – You’re lying. Only OSCE SMM can legal “monitor the situation”(see “Minsk”).
            “But there is no any observation on Russian weapons”-You’re lying. TOS-1 is 100% Russian (not Ukrainian) weapon made in Russia (not in Ukraine) and operated by Russia (not by Ukraine). http://www.transmash-omsk.ru – official website of the manufacturer.
            “TOS-1 is a common weapon in many countries. ”
            You want to say that this is a Syrian ТОS-1? Or Armenian? Are you insane? This “many countries” haven’t border with Ukraine. Only RUSSIA have. This is a very specific and rare russian weapon.
            R-330ZH “Zhitel” ECM station is 100% Russian weapon. Made in Russia. Operated ONLY by Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/177826
            http://www.protek-vrn.ru/production/avtomatizirovannaya-stantsiya-pomeh-r-330zh/ official website of the manufacturer..
            “But there is no any observation on Russian weapons”-You’re lying. TOS-1 is 100% Russian (not Ukrainian) weapon made in Russia (not in Ukraine) and operated by Russia (not by Ukraine). http://www.transmash-omsk.ru – official website of the manufacturer.
            “TOS-1 is a common weapon in many countries. ”
            You want to say that this is a Syrian ТОS-1? Or Armenian? Are you insane? This “many countries” haven’t border with Ukraine. Only RUSSIA have. This is a very specific and rare russian weapon.
            R-330ZH “Zhitel” ECM station is 100% Russian. Made in Russia. Operated ONLY by Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/177826
            http://www.protek-vrn.ru/production/avtomatizirovannaya-stantsiya-pomeh-r-330zh/ official website of the manufacturer.

    • Mike

      I told above that this is official OSCE site. But there is nothing from Russia mentioned in the report. Probably this TOS-1 came from Poland as so many other weapons of the Kiev troops. Donbass has now several heavy weapons from Poland encaptured from encirclements.

      Reply
        • Mike

          TOS-1 in Donbass is not a verified observation and this was never seen in the battle field. Grad is a very similar weapon and mortars can give the same result as well.
          International military inspectors say: There is no footage of the TOS-1 actually firing rockets in Ukraine, but the Ukrainian government claims they were used in the artillery bombardment that leveled Donetsk International Airport, forcing Ukrainian forces to withdraw in January 2015. However, other powerful artillery systems, including 2S4 mortars, are known to have been used in that siege.
          It is better to leave these issues to the professional military inspectors. There could be visitors here who don’t know that Bellingcat is a Soros funded propaganda site.

          Reply
          • Lena

            “Mike” is Russian mafia funded (via Prigozhin’s troll factory “Internet research agency”) troll. He can say nothing about the Zhitel jamming station, so he lies about Poland.

            Real reconnaissance experts know what OSINT is and whom to ask for real expertise in non-satellite photo verification.

            So far the only MH17 and Russian invasion related fakes I saw are satellite photos from 21.7.2014 Russian MoD briefing and the jet fighter attack photo endorsed by Russian Union of Engineers. Real reconnaissance expert would notice the disappeared vegetation strip on Russian MoD satphoto. But “Mike” is not an expert, he is a persistently lying troll.

          • Mike

            As I said, it is better to leave the investigation of the MH17 to the international and official authorities responsible. Bellingcat does not have any kind of role in that work. Air accident is a serious issue – not for children to play.
            It is the same with the Minsk agreement. The OSCE inspectors and also some Russian monitors are doing their work to record all the military activities in Ukraine. The overall problem is that the Kiev regime has attacked the population in Donbass. OSCE is collecting evidence which will later be used in the Hague court of war criminals to study which presidents and ministers in Kiev will be jailed. This is not the business of amateurs.

          • Lena

            The Russian troll now claims “leave the investigation of the MH17 to the international and official authorities”, he forgot that another troll under the same false name “Mike” accused official authorities DSB and JIT, claimed “JIT used only Bellingcat manipulated data”. The JIT head said “we made our presentation for the report on the basis of the original data which we gathered anywhere but the Internet. Our witnesses recorded these frames with their cameras and phones. These are authentic and verified materials we would vouch for. I would personally vouch for them, and I am a professional with 37 years of prosecution under my belt”.

          • Mike

            Lena wrote about JIT: “Our witnesses recorded these frames with their cameras and phones. These are authentic and verified materials we would vouch for.”
            There are no technical means to verify photographic materials as we have seen. Such materials cannot be used in court.
            It is clear that the witnesses are same people who prepared fake materials to Bellingcat (to be found also in Internet). I have studied a lot of this material and I can say it is 100% fake.
            I have worked 44 yrs with international law and court issues as an expert of reconnaisance, remote sensing and intelligence (also for OSCE).

          • Len

            mm.. well seems Mike is not a “Russian” troll ? And he does put down on his CV he has some expertise in satellite imagery w/ digital & map processing. Overall.. his CV looks more impressive than your Bellingcatadmin 🙂

          • Лена

            If “Mike” really is Mikko Punkari then he was fooled by Russian trolls and believed all the bullshit they propagate via Russian government-controlled media. As well as other Russians he talked to. This fits with his blunder about no local Russian army units where the fire originated from: duh, the MRLS and howitzers are not immobile, they were moved to a field, fired for few hours, then were moved away. Only traces remained better visible on satphotos than while standing on the ground. It’s difficult to imagine such blunder from a real military expert. But sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

          • bellingcatadmin

            If you’re looking for someone with expertise in environmental issues, sure.

          • Lena

            Now the troll claims simultaneously “There are no technical means to verify photographic materials” and “I have studied a lot of this material and I can say it is 100% fake”. These two claims are mutually exclusive.

          • Mike

            It is easy to find evidence that a photographic material is fake – but not possible to prove that that is not fake. This is a principle in court. Photos can be used as a supportive material but the words of witness (considering the professionalism) are important. Bellingcat never has had materials which can be classified as “reliable”. There are extensive materials fully manufactured – like those satellite images on Russian artillery and tanks – they are 100% fake.

          • Лена

            Where did you find satellite images of artillery and tanks from Bellingcat you claim fake? Exact URLs on this Bellincat website and which exactly images.

          • Mike

            Our professional reconnaisance team checked this information and found out that the “observations” are fabricated. There is a small permanent army camp in Kuybyshevo, Russia and they have made some defensive constructions July 2014 when there was a problem of Kiev soldiers escaping to Russian side from the encirclement. They had a dozen artillery also but not firing. The Russian defence has been very light in the area which is a surprise. The Kiev troops did not use any vehicles when crossing the border. The article in the link gives a completely wrong image from the activities there.

            https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2016/12/21/russian-artillery-strikes-against-ukraine/

          • Лена

            You accused “like those satellite images on Russian artillery and tanks – they are 100% fake”. Which exactly SATELLITE images in that article do you claim fake?

          • KimmoK

            “…punkari-mikko-cv-ferc-euwb-mar2017”

            Nice.
            It explains some weird proRussian attitude by some Finnish wannabe president and his new “party”.

            Thank you bcat admin for 1+1.

  2. Dude

    Have not been here for a while…

    Current rushka-troll response seems feeble, practically impotent 🙂

    My question is – where are our old hyperactive comrades “stranger” and “Randy/Arya Stark etc”?

    Are they operating under different aliases now?
    Or… this is even painful to say..
    Did Comrade Major eliminate them for their bad work? 🙂

    Reply

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