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British Intelligence Report Confirms Russian Military Origin of MH17 Murder Weapon

December 20, 2017

By Aric Toler

Translations: Русский

Today, December 20, the British Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament published its 122-page annual report. This report covers a wide range of topics, including cyber security, the status of the UK’s international relationships, the threat of foreign fighters, and so on. However, one almost anecdotal detail in the Russian objectives and activity against UK and allied interests section states a key fact in absolute terms: the Russian military bears direct responsibility for the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17).

On page 52 of the report, when discussing Russian disinformation activities, a British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) source described how “we know beyond any reasonable doubt that the Russian military supplied and subsequently recovered the missile launcher” after “the shooting down of MH-17.”

Western governments and the Dutch-led criminal investigation into the tragedy, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), have been reluctant to outright name the Russian military as the responsible party for providing the murder weapon for the downing, and even more reluctant to name the Russian military as the actors who carried out the shoot down. While the latter concern is understandable, as there is still no direct evidence placing specific active Russian servicemen with the Buk at the time of the downing, there is no reason to avoid naming the Russian military as the guilty party in providing and retrieving the Buk missile launcher

It is widely acknowledged by official bodies that the Buk that downed MH17 came from Russia and was returned there after the shoot down, but the language describing these events has been deliberately obfuscated to avoid a direct accusation at the Russian military. For example, the U.S. State Department’s press statement on the third anniversary of the tragedy mentioned that the Buk was brought “from Russia” and fired by “Russian-led forces,” but avoided direct accusations of the Russian military.

The reticence to directly name the Russian military can be seen clearly in the JIT’s 28 September 2016 press conference, where the investigators did all they could to avoid directly naming the actors who facilitated the transfer of Buk 332 across the Ukrainian border. For example, in one segment of the press conference, the Buk is described as crossing from the Russian Federation into Ukraine, with a map clearing showing the crossing point near Donetsk (Russia).

Later, the JIT showed a number of intercepted phone conversations from the morning after the downing. Some of the people in these conversations are unidentified, but at least one is the Russian Sergey Dubinsky, who worked as Igor “Strelkov” Girkin’s intelligence head in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR). In the conversations, Dubinsky and others describe how the Buk was transported back to Russia and left with some “guys” (парни).

By following the statement in the British intelligence report, we can confirm that these “guys” who retrieved the Buk after it crossed the border were indeed Russian soldiers.

Previous Bellingcat Research

Since late 2014, Bellingcat has published a series of detailed reports outlining exactly which Russian military unit (53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, based in Kursk, Russia) supplied the Buk 332, the Buk-M1 missile launcher that downed the passenger plane, along with the potential suspects and witnesses from this military unit who either participated in the transfer/use of the missile launcher or have direct knowledge of it. Additionally, we have published reports on the Russian soldier-drivers who were involved in the transport of the eventual MH17 murder weapon through Russia towards the Ukrainian border, along with two specific Russian suspects — one of which is a Colonel General in the Russian Armed Forces — who were key actors in the procurement and transfer of Buk 332. A summary of all of Bellingcat’s research into MH17 up to the the third anniversary of the tragedy can be found here.

Aric Toler

Aric Toler started volunteering for Bellingcat in 2014 and has been on staff since 2015. He currently heads up Bellingcat's training efforts and its Eastern Europe/Eurasia research.

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  1. HRIMark

    Of course, the person you claim is Sergei Budinsky may have thought (at 7.44am) that the BUK has been “in Russia for a long time.”

    But that doesn’t fit with the BUK involved being filmed (allegedly) that morning in Lugansk, does it.

    Although I suppose it would be in line with the Ukrainian claims the BUK involved crossed to Russia during the night.

  2. Ukraukman

    Where the BUK is
    Where the BUK was
    Where the BUK is now

    Does it matter

    Of course it was of Russian supply
    Of course it was fired by Russian proxy army
    Of course the Russians deny responsibility

    because without dum denial it would be admitting that


    His punishment will come along in due time with punishment for every individual that has supported him.

    Come that time my only hope is that there are enough trees and rope.

    Slava Ukrainii

    • LordCrankyPants

      For what it’s worth, Putin’s murder of MH17 did spur stiffened sanctions that have cost Russia 100s of billions and reduced it to even more of a pariah state.

    • Thomas Peterson

      Slava Ukrainii. Meanwhile Ukraine continues to plummet further into third world status.

      How about those new skyscrapers in Moscow, tallest in Europe? Look cool, eh?

      • Fra

        Ukraine accomplished more in the last year than in the 25 years before that under russian kleptocracy. The skyscrapers in Moscow are empty, no one wants them. Looking cool in a lada while having an empty stomach…., success russian style.

          • Cor Lemmers

            They have economic growth since they have an economic agreement with the EU.
            Unemployement is decreasing. And the famous shadow economy is decreasing.
            The Russian government is trying to get influence back by fighting a war in Ukraine. At the moment they are not very succesfull. They only grabbed som Ukraine territory. But they lost all the sympathy from the Ukraine people.

          • Ghost ship

            The agreement with the EU required them to shut down most of their industries because they were subsidized by the government.

          • Oddbodkin

            What utter drivel.
            One thing consistently missing from any output from you Russians is anything resembling facts or the truth.

    • PJefferson Araldi

      Putin is a murderous neo-Stalinist who to this day refuses to acknowledge the murder of up to 10 mio. Ukranians in the Holodomor.

      • Ghost ship

        “refuses to acknowledge the Holodomor”
        I’m not surprised that Putin refuses to acknowledge the murder of up to 10 mio. Ukrainians since up to 10 mio. weren’t murdered.
        The number of Ukrainians who died in the 1932-1933 famine was about 3.3 million.
        It didn’t help that Ukrainian peasants burnt their own crops and killed their own livestock, that plant disease (Red Rust) and drought afflicted much of Ukraine, and that peasants thought they could successfully stand against modernisation. If they hadn’t died in the famine, they, except for the neo-nazis, would have been enslaved and murdered by the Nazis in their quest Lebensraum and ethnic purity.
        The rest of us should be grateful that Soviet industrialisation including collectivisation under Stalin allowed the Soviet Union to survive the Nazi onslaught and then destroy it. Without Stalin, Eurasia would still be under the control of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

        • Aric Toler

          For the love of god, our comment section is bad enough, the only thing that can make it worse is a 500+ reply thread about the Holodomor being or not being a genocide. I need to add it to the word blacklist.

        • Oddbodkin

          Another blatant lie from one of Putin’s little poodles.

          If you want to find a Nazi, look no further than your dear Vladimir.
          He’s the man that along with his cronies in the undemocratic kleptocracy currently ruling Russia that has stolen the nation’s riches from the people – a people who are so stupid they think Putin is some kind of god figure.

  3. Wilkmaster

    And we also know beyond any reasonable doubt that Strelkov thought it was a Uki cargo plane. Little green men are bad, no doubt.
    But so was making trouble for Ukraine, starting in the Maidan and bleeding into Crimea etc. Nobody wants dead Dutch girls on their consciences…

    • LordCrankyPants

      Makes no difference if it was a Ukrainian air force transport or a civilian airliner. Russians troops were illegally in Ukraine to commit premeditated murder. This is why every official agency tip toes around naming Putin’s troops outright and why Russia blatantly lies about MH17. The crime is extremely serious.

    • Fra

      They knew it was a passenger plane, no Ukrainian military plane would fly at 10.000m and 1000km/h, minutes from the Russian border, to go….. where?

  4. Thomas Peterson

    Are these the same guys who said there were definitely weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that could launch in 45 minutes?

    • Tom Wonacott

      Thomas Peterson

      “……..Are these the same guys who said there were definitely weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that could launch in 45 minutes?……”

      That is an inane argument. Criticize the US all you want for the non existent WMDs in Iraq. Criticize the US all you want for the Gulf of Tonkin incident. However, none of that has a single thing to do with the Russians supplying the Buk missile launcher which downed MH17. It’s a certainty. The Russian government has publicly lied about the missile launcher since just a few short days after MH17 was hit by the missile – just like the Russian government lied when they said they didn’t invade Crimea; just like the Russia government lied when they denied (to this day) that they invaded Eastern Ukraine; just like the Russia government lied about bombing the Red Crescent aid convoy in Syria; and just like they lied about interfering in the US election.


    • Petrovski

      No, those were Americans from 2003, long gone by 2014. You have your timeline confused.
      The involvement of Putin and Russia is now no longer a question, it’s just a matter of convicting the guilty Russians now. Strelkov, Dubinsky, etc. All the other DPR and LPR scum has already been purged individually by FSB hitmen (Givi, Motorola, etc.).

    • Bob-o-ganoosh

      UK, not US. I know it might be hard for you to differentiate between English characters, what with Cyrillic being your native alphabet and all, but do try to keep up.

  5. Dirk

    At the minimum, the KGB dwarf should have been brought before a Hague Tribunal by now. Nah, let’s give them the World Cup and keep them on the UN Security Council. Where’s the world’s Churchill? Time is running out with this sociopath….

          • LordCrankyPants

            Bellingcat makes Putinists squirm and behave like silly, lying clowns. Lol!

          • Oddbodkin

            Real evidence says it was a Russian BUK.
            Russian troll & Russian government “evidence” included poorly photoshopped images indicating a piss-poor attempt by official Russian agencies to cover up the crime.
            Holes made in MH17 100% consistent in size & pattern with the explosion of a BUK warhead.

            Russia & Putin murdered all those people.
            Russianbollox & Russian trollbollox from Russian trolls like Thomas Peterson & Sean Lamb only serve to highlight that fact.

          • LordCrankyPants

            The fact that Russian trolls show up to whine about Bellingcat’s work is proof in itself that Putin is responsible for the MH17 atrocity.

          • Oddbodkin

            That’s one of the amusing things about them.
            The other is how easy they are to identify.
            I guess it’s an indicator of Putin & his regime’s lack of critical thinking, or for that matter; critical thinkers.
            Dictatorial & undemocratic regimes have never been attractive to academics & seekers after truth.

  6. vepraksoldat

    First it was most likely done by rebels out of mistake. But who the hell flies civil airliner into war torn region. Funny how nobody blamed that. If that mistake happened on Ukrainian side, I am sure you would blame airlines. Blaming russians for supplying weapons? Do you blame west for supplying weapons too?

    • LordCrankyPants

      Putin’s irregulars don’t know how to operate a Buk. The Russian Army murdered MH17.

      • Ghost ship

        Most of “Putin’s irregulars”, the insurgents in Donetsk and Lugansk, were members of the Ukrainian military at one time or another and the Ukrainian military operated BUKs so finding trained BUK operators among the insurgents would not be difficult.

    • Mad Dog

      Uh, if you look at the facts, MH17 was not the only airline flying on that route. Blame the victims and forget about the criminals. Kind of like the Korean Airlines shoot down over Siberia. Lies and more lies even though there are intercepted transcripts of the pilot noting that the airliner had it lights on and that he did not fire any warning shots. MH17 just follows a pattern well developed under the USSR and carried on by one of its prized minions!

  7. Sean Lamb

    The Russian military supplied a Buk missile to the separatists in the same way British and the US armed ISIS.

    In both cases the respective governments certainly knew about it, condoned it, almost certainly helped facilitate it, eagerly hoped for military strategic gains as a result.

    But it is an open question in both cases whether there was a formal link in the procurement. With the Buk, Russia probably just turned a blind eye to looting abandoned Crimea weapons stores. With ISIS, Britain and the US probably just limited their role to facilitating the flow of weapons from abandoned Libyan weapons dumps and from the Gulf states rather than directly supplying from their own stocks.

    With the Buk, Russia wanted the separatists to gain a defensive weapon that could prevent aerial assault,s particularly against urban areas. With ISIS, Britain and the US were eagerly anticipating, and in large part achieved, a massive blood-bath in Syria and Northern Iraq.

    While neither is particularly desirable, no reasonable person could conclude other than Russia was acting on a vastly higher moral level than Britain and the US

    • LordCrankyPants

      No. Putin’s Buk TELAR 332, 53rd brigade, Kursk was illegally in Ukraine to commit premeditated murder. The GRU was involved. It’s why Russia desperately and flagrantly lies about Putin’s MH17 atrocity.

    • LordCrankyPants

      At least you admit MH17 was murdered by a Russian Army Buk (that requires months of training to operate) launched from Russian held Snizhne. Their are idiots who still deny that fact in evidence.

      • Sean Lamb

        Where did I “admit” that?

        I thought I said the Buk was almost certainly a Ukrainian weapon, ex-Soviet, looted from Crimea.
        And I made no comment as to its involvement or otherwise in the downing of MH17.

        For the record I think MH17 was down by an explosive placed in the cockpit by agencies associated with NATO. I add that merely to assist you rather than get distracted on the technicalities of why that is the case.

        • ttb

          Sean, Niall here from marcels blog. You have a rich fertile imagination sir. It is I daresay a shame you don’t put it to a better use than trying to dig the Russian state and it’s armed forces of holes that are entirely of their own making.

        • Oddbodkin

          For the record, there is irrefutable evidence MH17 was brought down by a Russian missile, evidence that identifies the type used.

        • TheDog

          Sean, please explain how an explosive device in the cockpit caused the tail section to separate from the aircraft shortly after its detonation. Thank you.

    • Black Star

      “It was not Russian, it was abandoned Ukrainian missile system”
      “Do not blame the killer, blame the victims”
      “But, but… the Americans do that too!”

      You profess a good memory of old putinist lies and excuses.

      • Sean Lamb

        errr – is that directed at me?

        I am blaming the killers! We just disagree on their identity. Its a long story but it all goes back to an Ukrainian security guard who got a bit chatty with an Iraqi in Basra in January 2013. Then one thing to lead to another and 18 months later bodies are falling out of the sky in Eastern Ukraine. Goes to show loose lips really do sink ships or planes

        Its a strange old world sometimes

        • LordCrankyPants

          Have you seen the pictures of the Buk launch plume taken in Russian held east Ukraine? I’m thinking you think they’re chemtrails.

    • Oddbodkin

      Typical Russian troll: Accusations of UK & US arming IS are as ridiculous as denying Russia’s guilt in the shooting down of MH17.

      • Ghost ship

        Russia isn’t guilty of shooting down MH17, its local proxy is.
        Same with US arming ISIS, the United States didn’t directly arm ISIS but its local proxies, Al Qaeda/Al Nusrah/HTS, Ahrar al-Sham, etc. did and it also allowed its allies to deliver American and other weapons direct to ISIS
        So, claims of the US not arming IS are as ridiculous as denying Russia’s guilt in the shooting down of MH17 might be more honest.

  8. vicki

    The world is not going to believe the lies of the Britain or America anymore.
    Disgusting to see them come up again and again with this kind of shit

  9. Rob

    Bellincat said :
    “…. the Buk is described as crossing from the Russian Federation into Ukraine, with a map clearing showing the crossing point near Donetsk (Russia).”

    In fact, the JIT is a bit more precise : In fact the BUK crossed the border near Sjeverne, as can be seen in this video segment at 1:30 min :

    Incidentally, Sjeverne is also the location from which that AN26 was shot down on July 14 :

    Coincidence ? I think not.

  10. Ghost ship

    The Russian military allegedly supplied the weapon but that does not mean they bear direct responsibility, just that they have some responsibility which is not the same as direct responsibility. And the British report does not accuse the Russians of “direct involvement”, it just states that the Russian claim that they had zero involvement is not true which is not the same as saying they had direct involvement.

    The British and American government should also bear mind that their responsibility for attacks on civilians in Yemen is more direct than the Russian involvement with MH17 since they are supplying the bombs (equivalent to what the Russians did with MH17) but also maintaining the aircraft and arming them, providing the targeting information and providing air refueling – a far more direct involvement than Russia ever had with MH17.

    The only people with any direct involvement are the local crew of the BUK and the Kiev government for allowing civilian aircraft to continue flying over a war zone when they knew that both parties had access to heavy SAMs capable of shooting down civilian aircraft.


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