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The Kremlin’s Shifting, Self-Contradicting Narratives on MH17

January 5, 2018

By Aric Toler

Translations: Русский

Just a few hours after the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), the circumstances that caused the tragedy came to light: a Buk-M1 Russian-made anti-aircraft missile system was fired by either Russian-led separatists or Russian forces from an area near Snizhne, Ukraine, leading to the death of 298 civilians aboard the passenger plane. Over three years since the downing, every credible investigation into the tragedy has confirmed this initial claim, with each photograph, video, and independent forensic investigation reinforcing the “Russian/separatist Buk” claim and adding new details that give us a greater understanding of how this incident happened. In short, the “narrative” from Western governments, the official Dutch criminal and forensic investigations, and the site you are reading now has been linear.

This same linear trajectory towards greater clarity and away from self-contradiction cannot be attributed to the Kremlin’s narrative, or narratives, related to MH17. On July 21, 2014, just four days after the downing, the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) held a press conference that made a series of self-contradictory claims blaming Ukraine, rather than Russia or Russian-led separatists, for the Boeing 777’s shoot down. Today, the Kremlin–via its Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Ministry of Defense, state-funded media outlets, and state-funded defense company “Almaz-Antey”–has silently abandoned, while never explicitly retracting, nearly every piece of evidence it presented four days after the downing.

A microcosm of the Kremlin’s shift on MH17 can be seen in the Ukrainian fighter jet conspiracy theory. In comment sections and YouTube videos you will often encounter talk of how a Ukrainian fighter jet, most common named as a Su-25 or a MiG-29, shot down MH17; however, the Kremlin has long abandoned the claim that this was the cause of the MH17 shoot down. Instead, throughout 2017, the Kremlin has thrown its entire weight behind the idea that a Ukrainian Buk system shot down MH17 from a position near Zaroshchenske.

Unless you have closely followed each twist and turn of the MH17 case, including each Kremlin’s state-funded media outlet’s report on the tragedy, it is quite difficult to keep the Kremlin’s narratives on MH17 straight. In 2014 and 2015, Russia’s main state-funded news program, Vesti, threw nearly its full weight behind the Su-25 theory, even airing an experiment with actual fighter jets showing how a Ukrainian fighter jet riddled MH17 with cannon fire. However, at the end of 2017, in complete contradiction to their previous segments, Vesti aired a new segment claiming–without any mention of a fighter jet–that a Ukrainian Buk was solely responsible for the tragedy.

This article will detail the development of the Kremlin’s narratives on MH17, which have become unrecognizable over the past three years. It would take a full-length book to provide a comprehensive treatment of all of Russia’s messaging related to the MH17 case, but here we will focus on the development of the Kremlin’s position on the cause of the downing, and the current state of the Kremlin’s MH17 narrative. We will also deconstruct this narrative point-by-point, detailing how it may be even more illogical than the Ukrainian fighter jet theory it initially supported. To survey the Kremlin’s public messaging on MH17, we studied the following sources, with the presumption that they represent the official viewpoints of the Russian government:

  • Statements and reports from government officials (such as Vladimir Putin), committees (such as the Russian Investigation Committee), and ministries (such as the MFA and MoD and their spokespersons).
  • Statements and reports from Russian embassies and their ambassadors.
  • Statements and reports from Almaz Antey, a state-owned defense manufacturer that developed the Buk missile.
  • Media outlets funded either entirely through government or proxy government funds. Some of these outlets include television channels, such as Russia-1 & Russia-24 (which airs Vesti). We also included online portals and wire services, such as TASS and Sputnik.

First, we will consider the positions initially taken by the Kremlin soon after the downing of MH17 for greater context of how the current narrative came into formation.

The Initial Kremlin Position: July 2014

On July 21, 2014, four days after the MH17 downing, the Russian MoD held a press conference that took a scattershot approach to establishing the Kremlin’s MH17 narrative(s). Instead of presenting a firm, singular theory of the incident that led to the downing of MH17, they presented a series of self-contradicting claims that placed blame on the Ukrainian government.

Bellingcat has extensively detailed the factual issues with the claims made in this press conference, found chronologically in the following articles:

The main claims by the Russian MoD in this press conference are listed below, along with a brief description of each claim’s most glaring factual inaccuracy:

  • The course of MH17 was deliberately changed to shift it over a war zone in Ukraine [the map showing the MH17 flight path shown during the press conference was fabricated and not used in future Russian MoD press conferences, and there was no significant flight path diversion]
  • A video showing the Russian Buk that has since been confirmed as the weapon that downed MH17 shows the missile launcher moving not through Russian/separatist stronghold Luhansk, but instead Ukrainian-controlled Krasnoarmeysk [the video has been conclusively geolocated to Luhansk, not Krasnoarmeysk, and the text supposedly visible on a billboard showing an address in Krasnoarmeysk was fabricated]
  • A Ukrainian aircraft was detected near MH17 during the crash, as supported by Russian radar data [in 2016, the Russian MoD held another press conference in this same room on newly “discovered” radar data: this “Ukrainian aircraft” was no longer present]
  • A Ukrainian Buk TELAR was removed from its base near Spartak, Ukraine shortly before the downing of MH17, and was then relocated to a field south of Zaroshchenske, where it, along with a second Buk TELAR and another military vehicle, was deployed on July 17, 2014 [the satellite images published by the MoD have been thoroughly debunked: firstly, after Bellingcat purchased a satellite image taken at almost the exact same time provided by the Russian MoD, showing inconsistencies with their image; secondly, after Dr. Jeffrey Lewis and his team at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey used a sophisticated digital analysis tool to show conclusively that the Russian satellite images were significantly digitally altered]

All of these claims have been debunked by multiple sources, sometimes even from the evidence provided by the Russian government itself. Additionally, each of these claims have been abandoned by the Kremlin–except the final one, claiming that a Ukrainian Buk was deployed near Zaroshchenske, where it fired the missile to down MH17.

The statements made by Russian ambassadors and officials in the week following the tragedy match the July 21st press conference: no single narrative, but rather a wide-ranging list of “concerns,” grievances of Russia being accused by Western media and politicians, and accusations of Kyiv’s responsibility.

For example, in a July 21st interview with the Russian Ambassador to Malaysia, Lyudmila Vorobyeva, the diplomat gave credence to a number of claims: pointing out that a Ukrainian crew may have been targeting Russian President Putin’s plane, that a Ukrainian “air defense system” fired on the plane, and that Russian-led separatists had no access to any surface-to-air missile systems that could have downed MH17. Ambassador Vorobyeva also repeated the MoD’s false claim of a Ukrainian fighter jet near MH17.

The day after the downing. Russia’s UK Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko aired his grievances with Russia being “groundlessly” targeted for blame:

“Since the day of the disaster we have been witnessing a powerful information attack on our country in international media and fora (including the UNSC). It has been groundlessly claimed that Russia or ‘separatists controlled by Russia’ were responsible for the downing of Flight MH-17. Such irresponsible and unproven statements are being issued up to this moment. Their aim is to negatively influence the media background surrounding the investigation. We consider such statements and unfounded accusations as an attempt to dissimulate the true facts concerning the catastrophe and to cover up the identities of the true perpetrators of the crime.”

Ambassador Yakovenko dismissed the evidence against Russia and the separatist it leads by waving away the extensive amount of digital evidence showing a Russian Buk TELAR moving through Russian/separatist-held territory on the day of, and morning after, the shoot down:

“The case, as is admitted, is built upon photos and messages from social media sites, placed by Ukrainian authorities and since then proved to be forgeries, as ambassador Churkin demonstrated at the UN security council meeting. Naturally, our American partners say that they have no way of certifying the authenticity of those materials.”

On July 19, two days after the downing, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov repeated a fabricated claim that originated on Twitter of how a Spanish air traffic controller named Carlos saw two Ukrainian fighter jets near MH17. Despite the Kremlin’s supposed distrust of online materials related to MH17, one of their leading defense officials made an official statement on Russia-24 on this imaginary “Carlos,” who has since been thoroughly debunked as a Twitter hoax. Even Russian President Putin has repeated the “Carlos” claim in an interview with Oliver Stone in 2017.

Though the vast majority of official statements on MH17 in the week following the tragedy laid blame on Kyiv, we can see some alternate approaches that may have been considered by top Kremlin diplomats and officials, but abandoned. For example, when asked less than a week after the shootdown about the intercepted conversations between Russian-led fighters, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, though perhaps spontaneously in response to a press question, laid the groundwork for a Russian position that was never taken: conceding that Ukraine was not responsible for the tragedy, but shielding the Russians/separatists who fired the missile from the most significant consequences in international court.

“According to them, the people from the east were saying that they shot down a military jet … If they think they shot down a military jet, it was confusion. If it was confusion, it was not an act of terrorism.”

Mixed Messages: 2014-2016

Over the next few years, the Kremlin would vacillate between the Ukrainian fighter jet and the Ukrainian Buk theories.

The Russian news program Vesti filmed an “experiment” in October 2014 as part of a longer documentary to show that MH17 was actually downed by Su-25 cannon fire, not a Buk missile. Footage from this “experiment” was also published in an RT documentary on MH17.

In June 2015, the Russian Investigative Committee released information about a “witness” who described how a Ukrainian pilot (Captain Vladislav Voloshin) was responsible for the downing of MH17.

Simultaneous with their claims of a Ukrainian fighter jet using cannon fire and/or an air-to-air missile to down MH17, the same Russian state-funded news programs were promoting a contradicting theory of a Ukrainian Buk missile being used to down the passenger jet. On July 19, 2015, Vesti aired an 11-minute segment that included a witness report from a Ukrainian man named Sergei. This man, who lives in a village in the Donetsk Oblast, claims to have seen Ukrainian military vehicles at a position south of Zaroshchenske (this claim is examined in more detail in the following section of this article).

This segment also places the heavily digitally altered satellite images presented during the July 21, 2014 press conference into context with Sergei’s account, including mentioning footage from a Ukrainian Military TV July 16, 2014 segment showing Ukrainian Buk systems. However, what is not mentioned in this report is that this footage was filmed before July 16, and was actually in the Kharkiv Oblast at a rear ATO base camp, not on the front lines of the war or anywhere near the MH17 crash site.

Nine minutes into this report that provided the Kremlin’s account of how a Ukrainian Buk downed MH17, the report takes a dramatic shift in describing how Ukrainian pilot Captain Vladislav Voloshin downed MH17 with an Su-25 fighter jet. Immediately after this information, the report cites a LiveJournal blogger who claims that Ukraine used an Israeli air-to-air missile to down MH17. The contradictions between the varying accounts in this brief segment are not resolved. In sum, the nature of the Kremlin’s public messaging strategy on the downing of MH17 can be encapsulated in two tweets written on the same day by the Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom:

The Current Kremlin Position

The Kremlin has shifted entirely away from the Ukrainian fighter jet theory, without any explicit redaction and after years of special media reports, fabricated radar evidence, witness reports, and official statements to the contrary. Throughout 2017 and going into 2018, the Kremlin narrative around MH17 is now focused on one theory: a Ukrainian Buk missile system downed MH17. Along with the promotion of this narrative, Russia intensified its attempts to discredit the Dutch-led criminal investigation into the downing, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

The Ukrainian Buk Theory

In review of all of Vesti’s segments on MH17 in 2017, there was no notable published content, such as witnesses who have come forward or alleged evidence uncovered, pointing to the Ukrainian fighter jet theory. However, there was a large number of reports asserting how Ukraine deployed a Ukrainian Buk missile system to a field south of Zaroshchenske. Before diving into the new developments in this claim, we should review the fundamental elements of the Ukrainian Buk theory.

According to the July 21, 2014 Russian MoD press conference, a Ukrainian Buk TELAR that was previously deployed at an air defense base in Spartak (just north of Donetsk) was not present at 11:32am on July 17, 2014.

Instead, the MoD implied that this Buk TELAR was, allegedly, 53.5km away (as the bird flies) in a field south of Zaroshchenske. These two satellite images were allegedly taken at the same time.

A December 2017 Vesti report highlights a military position just outside of Shaposhnykove, and a few kilometers south of the alleged launch site near Zaroshchenske. As the report details, this position was developed in the week prior to the downing of MH17, though allegedly created by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and not Russian/separatist forces.

This position is located near the alleged Zaroshchenske launch site, as seen in the map below (click for full size):

Russia also bolsters its theory with a witness account from a Ukrainian named Sergei, who gave a 2015 interview to Vesti in a field where he claims to have seen Ukrainian military equipment on the day of the MH17 downing while on his way to work on a nearby farm.

In the interview with Vesti, Sergei claims that on July 17 he was not allowed to pass through the area due to a heavy Ukrainian military presence. He says that he saw 20-30 Ukrainian soldiers, “radars,” and military vehicles. He explained that some of this equipment was covered up, but he was able to identify some of them, such as a BTR (armored personnel carrier) and a rotating radar with a “dome.” The July 2015 Vesti report went on to say that the BTR that Sergei claims to have seen was the same one as in the July 21 MoD satellite image, and that the “radar” units were the same as the two Buk TELARs also visible in the same image.

The Vesti report states that this area was represented in the Russian MoD satellite image from the July 21st press conference; however, in 2015, users at the MH17 Webtalk message board geolocated this footage to an area approximately 6km south of Zaroshchenske. No military equipment is visible in this area in any publicly available, free satellite imagery for mid-July 2014.

Below, a composite of the three locations that the Kremlin narrative has focused on are seen below: the field near where the Russian MoD claimed Ukrainian Buks were deployed on July 17, an alleged Ukrainian military fortification near Shaposhnykove, and the large deployment of military vehicles, including alleged radars, that were witnessed by Sergei on July 17.

Lastly, a recent element added to Russia’s Ukrainian Buk claim is a new Ukrainian witness named Yuri Baturin who claims to have observed the shoot down of MH17 on radar and spoken with Ukrainian Buk crew members who were allegedly deployed to near Zaroshchenske. This “discovery” of a witness is quite similar to the 2015 discovery of a witness who spoke about Ukrainian pilot Captain Vladislav Voloshin, as both witnesses served in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and later fled to Russia. This interview was originally taken by the Russian Ministry of Defense’s television channel TV Zvezda in October 2017, but then republished in December, where it was amplified across other state-funded outlets.

Radar Data and Almaz-Antey Reports

The two pieces of evidence related to the Ukrainian Buk theory that Russia most often highlights are the reports of state defense manufacturer Almaz-Antey (producer of Buk missiles) and radar data that was “discovered” in 2016. The Almaz-Antey reports, which claim that the missile that downed MH17 was launched from the area near Zaroshchenske, are presented by the Kremlin as an alternate source of information to the official forensic investigation into the plane’s downing conducted by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB). The proposed launch sites by Almaz-Antey and the Dutch investigations (determined by the NLR and Kyiv Research Institute) can be seen below:

It should be noted that according to the most recent Almaz-Antey report, the field south of Zaroshchenske highlighted by Russian MoD satellite imagery is not within the area of potential launch sites.

The 2016 radar data, which contradicts the 2014 “radar data” presented by the Russian MoD, is widely considered inconclusive by the international community and the Dutch-led investigation into MH17.

In early 2017, the primary focus of the Russian messaging on MH17 was focused on the Russian radar data presented to the Dutch investigation. This radar data was first presented in September 2016 after it was “discovered” accidentally during “scheduled maintenance.” This data was presented in the same room and in the same fashion as the July 21, 2014 MoD press conference, yet it dismissed evidence presented two years prior of a Ukrainian fighter jet in the area. This contradiction was not acknowledged in the Kremlin messaging around MH17, with the focus instead shifting to how this radar data did not show a Buk missile launch from the field south of Snizhne where Buk 332 was present at the time.

The Dutch government explained that this radar data would not necessarily show a Buk missile due to its trajectory and size; however, the Russian aviation regular Rosaviatsia disputes this claim: “It is inappropriate to say that a radar station could miss the missile,” its head said in June 2017. After Russia’s “discovered” radar data did not significantly alter the trajectory of the Dutch investigation into the MH17 downing, the Kremlin and its media outlets took this as evidence that the JIT only considers evidence that fits a supposed preconceived notion of Russia’s guilt.

In a response to an interview held by Fred Westerbeke, the head of the Dutch criminal investigation into MH17, Russian MFA spokesperson Maria Zakharova aired Russia’s grievances of how its “evidence” is not valued by the international community:

“Mr Westerbeke’s interview has shown that contributions from Ukraine and the United States, as well as information  from online sources are considered to be highly valuable, whereas any assistance provided by Russia has been deliberately downplayed, including the secret data we declassified for this purpose, information about an unprecedented experiment held by the Almaz-Antey Concern, and the original data from our radar, all of which is objective and accurate information that could really help the investigation.”

Fundamental issues with Zaroshchenske: the route

Even if one discounts the conclusive evidence showing that the Russian MoD’s satellite images concerning Zaroshchenske were heavily digitally altered, it is impossible that the Buk TELAR at the base near Spartak was able to travel to this field by 11:32am. Additionally, this Buk was heavily damaged, as seen below.

A satellite image taken by Digital Globe at 11:08am on the same day shows that the Buk TELAR was present on the base, with no evidence that it was being loaded onto a transport truck at that time. Needless to say, it is impossible that this Buk TELAR could travel from the base to the field in 24 minutes. Even if the Buk TELAR was immediately loaded onto a truck after the satellite image was taken at 11:08am, and then traveled at a normal speed through the Russian/separatist-strongholds of Donetsk, Makiivka, and/or Yasynuvata and was not stopped in any of the numerous Russian/separatist checkpoints along the way, it would have taken over 90 minutes to reach Zaroshchenske.

Fundamental issues with Zaroshchenske: territorial control

If we make a concession to fantasy and say that it is possible that this Ukrainian Buk TELAR, or other ones deployed at another base, was able to reach the Zaroshchenske field in time for the 11:32am satellite image, we must consider the reality of the situation of territorial control on July 17, 2014. Despite continued Russian statements that the village of Zaroshchenske was controlled by the Ukrainian government in mid-July 2014, there is no credible evidence corroborating this claim, while there is extensive documentation of Russian/separatist control in both this area and a village even further south of the field in question. Furthermore, the December 2017 Vesti report claimed that the military position just south of the Zaroshchenske field, near the village of Shaposhnykove, was controlled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in mid-July 2014. There is a wealth of evidence directly refuting this allegation.

Bellingcat has written two extensive reports on the situation around Zaroshchenske in mid-July 2014: Zaroshchens’ke Launch Site: Claims and Reality and Zaroshchens’ke Revisited: Almaz-Antey’s New Launch Areas. Nearly every point raised in Russia’s claims surrounding Zaroshchenske can be refuted by the open source evidence detailed in these two reports. When looking at Zaroshchenske in particular, there was no fighting reported in mid-July 2014 in the village, and there were a number of known Russian/separatist checkpoints and fortifications nearby, including Shakhtarsk to the north and Velyka Shyshivka to the east and southeast.

This military position south of the Zaroshchenske field was built facing the south, towards Ukrainian-held territory, and not the north, towards Russian/separatist-held territory. In the days leading up to the downing, there were no reports in Ukrainian, Russian, or separatist media outlets of any fighting in this immediate area. In fact, locals told Dutch journalist Rudy Bouma that there were no Ukrainian forces within 4-6km of Zaroshchenske in mid-July 2014 and there was no missile launch in the area. However, Ukrainian forces did eventually launch an offensive near this area: after the downing of MH17. The BBC visited Shaposhnykove on July 24, 2014, a week after the MH17 downing, following reports of a civilian death as a result of Ukrainian shelling of the village the previous night.

In this report, it is clear that the village is controlled by Russian/separatist forces, with soldiers even patrolling the area. A conversation between the BBC correspondent and two Russian/separatist fighters takes place a bit over a half-kilometer southeast of the military position highlighted by Vesti.

If the military position just outside of Shaposhnykove was actually constructed and manned by Ukrainian forces, as the Vesti report from December 2017 alleges, then we would expect to find some evidence of fighting or a retreat before July 23, when Ukrainian artillery shelled Russian/separatist-controlled Shaposhnykove.

Lastly, the Dutch-led criminal investigation into MH17 published a phone conversation between two Russian/separatist fighters where they discuss the Zaroshchenske theory, prompted by a press conference held by Almaz-Antey. The two men agree that the area was controlled by Russian/separatist forces at the time, and there was no missile launch in the region.

Fundamental issues with Zaroshchenske: location of deployment

Another fundamental issue with the Russian MH17 narrative is the likelihood that the Ukrainian Armed Forces would deploy two Buk TELARs, highly vulnerable and valuable pieces of military equipment, to an area that the Kremlin would say was under, in even the most generous interpretation, soft Ukrainian control. Multiple fortified Russian/separatist fortifications and checkpoints were located a few kilometers east in Velyka Shyshivka and north in Shakhtarsk, leaving the two Buk TELARs allegedly in the Zaroshchenske field highly vulnerable, as the Russian MoD’s satellite image showed only a single military vehicle, likely a BTR (armored personnel carrier), nearby.

Fundamental issues with the Zaroshchenske claim: Sergei’s witness account

Sergei’s claim of a Ukrainian military deployment 6km south of Zaroshchenske came a year after the initial development of the Kremlin MH17 narrative, but it is still worthwhile to analyze. The most important detail in the July 2015 Vesti report about the witness account is that it took place in the same location as the Russian MoD satellite image, which is demonstrably false through simple geolocation, showing that Sergei was actually near a poultry farm 6km south of the Zaroshchenske field.

Another detail from Sergei’s witness account is that he saw “radar” vehicles with domes in this area, which the Vesti report then claims are the same as the two Buk TELARs visible in the Russian MoD satellite image. To stress the appearance of these “radar” vehicles, Sergei makes an arcing motion with his hands when speaking about the dome. Even though the Buk radar system is called “Dome” (“Купол“), it looks nothing like one. In fact, there is no Buk-M1 vehicle, radar or otherwise, that has a dome that would match Sergei’s description. The Vesti report shows what a Buk radar unit looks like: a rotating radar mast, which is not dome-shaped.

Additionally, in the Russian MoD satellite image itself, the two Buk units are noted to be TELARs (самоходные огневые установки ЗРК “Бук-М1”), not radar systems (cтанции обнаружения целей).

It is possible that Sergei saw Ukrainian military equipment near the poultry farm 6km south of Zaroshchenske on July 17, 2014, as Bellingcat’s previous research into this topic shows that this area was not under firm Ukrainian or Russian/separatist control in mid-July 2014. However, Sergei’s descriptions give no indications that there were any Buk systems present among this alleged military equipment; in fact, his own descriptions work against the Kremlin’s claim due to the “dome” on the alleged radar systems that were present.

Fundamental issues with the Zaroshchenske claim: Baturin’s witness account

Former Ukrainian officer Yuri Baturin claimed in an interview with Russian MoD television channel Zvezda TV that he witnessed the downing of MH17 while watching a radar screen in Kharkiv and spoke to a Ukrainian soldier who spoke about a Buk missile complex being deployed near Zaroshchenske. The claim that a Ukrainian Buk complex was in a field near Zaroshchenske on July 17, 2014 has been thoroughly debunked. However, when addressing Baturin’s claim, there is a simpler detail to tackle. In his interview, Baturin told TV Zvezda that immediately after the downing of MH17, he knew the truth of what happened, and decided “precisely at this moment” to leave the military and leave Ukraine for Russia.

As Meduza has noted, both Baturin and TV Zvezda failed to mention the fact that he continued to serve in the Ukrainian military until 2016, where he resigned “for family reasons,” in complete contradiction to the reasons he gave in the TV Zvezda interview.

Fundamental issues with the Zaroshchenske claim: lack of physical evidence

While all of this evidence refutes a range of specific details claiming a Zaroshchenske launch site, there is a far simpler reality that refutes the theory: a complete lack of any physical evidence or reliable witness accounts. There are no visible traces of a missile launch or deployment of military equipment in the field of Zaroshchenske in available satellite imagery between July 16 and 19, 2014. Additionally, numerous journalists have visited Zaroshchenske after the shoot down and spoke with local residents, and were unable to find a single person in the area who observed military activity in mid-July 2014, a missile launch, or movements of Ukrainian military equipment near the field. It was not until July 2015 that Russian-funded media outlets found a witness named “Sergei” who claimed to have seen Ukrainian military equipment in the vicinity, though still over six kilometers south of the alleged launch site.

The Shaky State of the Narrative

In over three years, the Kremlin has completely abandoned one of its two primary claims, the Ukrainian jet theory, and moved all-in towards the other, the Ukrainian Buk theory. However, with as many factual inconsistencies and gaps of logic that the Ukrainian jet theory had, the Zaroshchenske launch site may have even more. As of the publishing of this article, the five main pieces of evidence that buttress the Kremlin’s Ukrainian Buk theory are as follows, with a brief description of where the Kremlin has tripped up with their claim.

  • Technical reports from the state-funded defense manufacturer of the Buk missile. These reports were directly contradicted by the Dutch Safety Board’s forensic report.
  • A couple of satellite images showing the deployment of two Ukrainian Buk TELARs to a field south of Zaroshchenske. These images were heavily digitally altered.
  • Satellite imagery showing the development of a Ukrainian military fortification south of the Zaroshchenske field. This position was in territory controlled by Russian/separatist forces, near a village it had soldiers stationed.
  • A witness who described seeing radar and military units near Zaroshchenske on July 17, 2014. This alleged deployment was 6km south of Zaroshchenske, and the visual description given by Sergei of these radar systems does not match that of the Buk complex.
  • A former Ukrainian officer who says he quit the Ukrainian military as soon as he realized that they were lying about MH17. He actually quit in 2016 for “family reasons,” and only emerged to tell his story over three years after the MH17 downing. No details in his witness account are corroborated by non-Kremlin sources.
Aric Toler

Aric Toler has written with Bellingcat since 2015 and currently leads the Eurasia/Eastern Europe team. Along with his research into topics in the former Soviet Union, he organizes and leads Bellingcat's Russian-language workshops for journalists and researchers. He graduated with an MA in Slavic Languages & Literatures from the University of Kansas in 2013, focusing on Russian literature and intellectual history. After graduation, he worked for two years as an intelligence specialist in the private sector. If you have any questions, or have a story idea related to eastern Europe or Eurasia, you can contact him at

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    • KimmoK

      I know there is no air-to-air weapon damage on MH17, I anyway checked what Ukraine had done to their SU25 planes.
      I found no indication of improved aerodynamics or engine that would enable it to operate better vs high flying enemy. It could not catch a B777 at 10km altitude.
      With full weapon load, it’s maximum flight altitude is the stock 5km.
      Also, I found no indication of any addition of new air-to-air missile models vs vanilla R-60.
      But that “study” was only a few hours via google & translator. 😉

  1. Miran

    I do not know was the “Putin’s” buk illegally in Ukraine or not. But I am pretty sure that Ukrainian government was responsible for their air space safety.

    • LordCrankyPants

      Yes. Russian Army Buk 332 was wittnessed photographed and videoed illegally present in Ukraine on July 17, 2014,

      The Dutch Safety Board concluded that no one thought there was a threat to high altitude civilian airliners from Russian occupied east Ukraine. The Russian Army Buk that murdered MH17 was new to the action.

      • Miran

        It seems it was not new one in the action for the US intelligence….
        “”Kerry said social media reports and US surveillance put the missile system in question in the vicinity of the crash before the tragedy.
        “We know because we observed it by imagery that at the moment of the shootdown we detected a launch from that area,” he said. “Our trajectory shows that it went to the aircraft.””

          • LordCrankyPants

            The DSB had no need for US SBIRS data to confirm that a Buk launched from Russian held Snizhne downed MH17. The JIT doesn’t need it either but does have the US SBIRS data in evidence.

          • Miran

            DSB and JIT do not need that data? Is this a kind of joke??
            If they have that data in evidence as you claim then they are obstructing justice by postponing the indictment.

          • LordCrankyPants

            The US SBIRS data is redundant. There is tons of evidence that Putin’s Buk murdered MH17. Putin vetoed Malaysia’s UN tribunal proposal fled the ICC. Russia also lied to the DSB. There are your obstructions of justice. The trial will be held in Holland under Dutch law.

          • Miran

            The US SBIRS evidence, if exists and aproved, is CRUCIAL, not redundant material!!
            Tons of evidences you are talking about are explaining over three years of postponing the justice??

          • LordCrankyPants

            Don’t need US SBIRS data to prove that Putin’s Buk murdered MH17. It’s redundant.

          • Miran

            That is your wishful opinion. My opinion is that that kind of evidence, if exists, could and should close the case and stop profaning of the Victims and brings their families justice and peace.

          • LordCrankyPants

            Putin’s murder of the 298 innocents aboard MH17 including 80 children is an open and shut case. The evidence is overwhelming and conclusive. If Putin were interested in justice, he wouldn’t have vetoed Malaysia’s UN tribunal proposal or fled from the ICC.

            Russia is a lying, pariah state.

          • Miran

            There is no court, there is no trial, there are no indictment nor the indicts yet and you already know who is guilty. So pathetic.
            Russia’s veto on UN international court can not stop the justice, there are already established mechanisms within international law that regulate air traffic issues.

          • LordCrankyPants

            Normally, Putin’s murder trial for his MH17 atrocity would be held at the ICC. Putin fled the ICC shortly after the JIT’s last progress report.

          • Miran

            Honest people are searching for justice, Bellingcat is interested in political issue only for any price.

          • LordCrankyPants

            Odd comment considering Putin’s was the sole no vote against Malaysia’s UN MH17 tribunal proposal and that Russia fled from the ICC after the JIT’s last progress report. You’re making a fool of yourself, Putinist clown. Lol!

          • KimmoK

            about Kerry & “imagery” & evidence
            -launch area was under cloud cover, so no satellite photos of launch possible
            -HD photographing of clouds is not interesting, no-one was taking satellite HD photos
            -700kg missile nearly impossible to photo from space
            -earth is not HD filmed 24h/7 from space
            -provenly no known satellite was in good position for imaging/photos when MH17 was shot
            -it is possible US SIGINT satellite pinpointed TELAR radar (but it’s not confirmed)
            -it is also possible SBIRS managed to detect the BUK rocket engine burn
            -it is possible SBIRS detected the missile detonation beside MH17
            -therefore it is possible to generate image of the SBIRS tracked heat signature of the BUK missile
            -public version of the intelligence generated image (imagery?) was published in 2014
            -launch location match DSB and JIT findings
            -it is possible Kerry (only) saw similar image (or he just had big mouth)
            -the highly secret and scientific data is difficult to prove authentic and use in court,
            therefore I doubt it will be used, especially because other more simpler and more easily
            verifiable evidence exist.
            -SAT intelligence does not give anything extra vs what can be proved by other means.

            So, my bet is that the SAT data will not be published. Not ever.
            If it’s used in court, it will be analyzed behind closed doors.

            (I doubt the RAW data is much more accurate than the public image, because SBIRS
            is designed to detect larger ballistic missile launches)

            Russian propaganda like to tout about “satellite images” because they are very
            interested about how accurate US SBIRS is and they like to flood the media with
            doubt and fictional “facts”.

          • Miran

            Is that US SBIRS imagery officially attached in JIT’s evidence list?

          • KimmoK

            JIT evidence list is secret until court.

            This is what Westerbeke answered:

            Q— The JIT report mentions satellite photos, which also prove that the Buk was launched from the Snezhnoye area. Are these photos made by the US satellites? Did you really get them?

            A— Yes, we have these photos. An officer from my department who has clearance for handling the intelligence papers stamped “top secret” and “national security” saw and studied satellite data kept by the United States.

            Q— Can you share more details about these photos? Do they provide the broad picture of the incident?

            A— Unfortunately, it’s nothing like the movies showing the unlimited abilities of satellite observation and zooming. Mass media made a lot of people believe that the U.S. space technologies are capable of virtually continuous video recording of the events down on Earth. It does not quite work that way…

            Q— So how does it work? Where else would the U.S. keep its satellites at the time of unprecedented hostilities in Europe?

            A— I assure you, not even the U.S. satellites are able to see everything all the time. Besides, as you remember, that day was overcast. I cannot talk about what was on these photos, because they were seen by my authorized officer with proper clearance for handling sensitive data. He saw the report and conclusion of the U.S. side, and we used their data in our investigation as well.

            Q— Are you satisfied with the involvement of the U.S. team?

            A— I am. This tiny piece only adds up to the evidence that the missile was launched from the Snezhnoye area.

            Q— Why tiny?

            A— Because they [photos] are just a fraction of an immense body of evidence. It is all about the testimony of our eyewitnesses that is worth more than all data from the radars or satellites.

            Q— But you could publish these photos and put an end to all speculation, couldn’t you?

            A— There is just this little simple thing: those who wish to speculate, will keep speculating regardless of whether we publish anything or not. Quite honestly, all speculation should have ended in September of the year before when we came out with extremely hard evidence that the attack on MH17 originated from Snezhnoye. Yet it never ended. Any idea why?

            Q— Regardless, Russian propaganda labels the evidence from your report as “fakes from the Internet” and keeps demanding the American photos.

            A— Then whoever is doing that [propaganda] should be aware that 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. You can watch this video any time you want. As for the updates, please, wait till the trial. We will present everything to the court. We are doing our best, to bring that day when we hold enough evidence to start the trial. We may need a few months more, maybe a year or so. Or it may be a matter of a couple of weeks, if a couple of witnesses turn up tomorrow and tell us the entire story and offer the evidence. We count on it, and we hope that new witnesses will find a way to get in touch with us.

          • Miran

            When the investigation will end?
            When the trial will start and where?

          • Miran

            Is the entire JIT’s evidence list secret until the court or just some parts of it?

          • Kimmo Kannala

            Investigation ends when investigators consider having solid case with strong evidence and are ready for court.
            JIT is agreed and financed until 1/2019.
            But generally the court proceedings are expexcted to start 2018.
            Court will be at Haque.

            Evidence list is secret until court.
            You can follow JIT here:

        • LordCrankyPants

          The US SBIRS system detected the Buk’s infrared signature when the Buk was launched. You appear to be either quite ignorant or just a silly Putinist clown.

          • LordCrankyPants

            The JIT has stated that it has US SBIRS data in evidence. The US publicly presented redacted SBIRS data a couple of days after Putin’s Buk murdered MH17.

    • Russia's sovest'

      Of course the Buk was there illegally ! It is totally disgusting that Russia doesn’t have the courage to admit its terrible mistake…even Andropov had the courage to admit that he shot down the Korean passenger airliner….unfortunately the current lot of dolboyoby in the Kremlin have no conscience whatsoever…but what can you expect from a bunch of KGB murderers ?

      • Miran

        I speak what i know for sure, that the Ukrainian government takes responsibility for their air space safety. I have no idea was there Putin’s buk or not.

        • LordCrankyPants

          There is overwhelming evidence of Putin’s Buk illegally present in Ukraine: Witnesses, pictures, videos and phone taps.

          It’s fascinating to see the litany of self trolling lies the Kremlin has told about MH17.

        • Black Star

          The passenger jet’s route was through Ukraine, then through Russian airpace. It was flying towards Russian airspace. Why didn’t Russia warn passenger planes to not fly over Ukrainian AND Russian airspace, since they were planning to shoot down aircraft without bothering to check whether they were civilian or military?

          • LordCrankyPants

            Are you aware that a few days before Putin’s MH17 atrocity that the Kremlin tried to float the lie that Putin’s irregulars captured and were repairing an abandoned Ukrainian Army Buk?

          • Miran

            If there are enough much number if firm evidences why we still wait for the Court!? According Bellingcat and Atlantic Council experts including Yourself everything is resolved long time ago.Case closed! So???

          • LordCrankyPants

            Putin vetoed Malaysia’s UN tribunal proposal and fled the ICC. Russia has lied, obfuscated and obstructed justice from the start. That’s why we’re waiting. Don’t worry though. Putin’s MH17 atrocity sparked tightened sanctions against the Chekist cleptocracy that have cost it 100s of billions and pariah state status. Yes. The verdict was in ages ago. Overwhelming evidence of Putin’s crime.

          • Miran

            No suspect can avoid the trial for an event that is regulated by the International Aviation Agency. Additional institutions are sufficient for this case. Do not you recognize the Dutch Court as relevant for MH17 event??

          • LordCrankyPants

            Yes. The trial will be held in the Netherlands under Dutch law. BTW, obstruction of justice is evidence of guilt.

          • Miran

            The real question is not did I know about it, the real question is who else know about the danger that lurks civil aircraft above Ukraine.

          • Лена

            The Buk from Kursk, Russia (which shot down MH17) was sneaked into Russia-occupied part of Ukraine in the morning July 17.

  2. bukoed

    Coming from all present information it is possible to draw conclusion : the commander of Buka fired off on Boeing thinking that it is a troop-carrier of Ukraine. Yes, they did not have qualification it is correct to identify an aim. But principal reason of tragedy consists in that Ukraine intentionally started information about flight of Ан- 26 thus his block hours coincided in course of time flight of Boeing. Here it is an only version that explains all happening.

    • LordCrankyPants

      Putin’s Buk was illegally present in Ukraine to commit premeditated murder. Mission accomplished.

    • Rob

      bukoed, there is no reason to assume that “the commander of Buka fired off on Boeing thinking that it is a troop-carrier of Ukraine”.

      In fact, the crew of the BUK would not know what they were shooting at, since a BUK Telar does not have IFF. So the question is who ordered the BUK crew to switch on their radar 1 minute before MH17 was shot down ?

      The evidence we have suggests that the BUK south of Snizhne was instructed by a BUK command vehicle just across the border in Russia, and the commander there would have access to IFF, and this knew EXACTLY what he was shooting at.

        • LordCrankyPants

          The crew of the Russian Army Buk was using a spotter. “Bird flying to you.” – spotter. The Buk TELAR was already targeting the area the spotter was reporting on.

          • Rob

            LordCrankyPants, thank you for bringing up that spotter call to Igor Bezler.
            There are several issues with that call :
            – The call started 2 minutes before MH17 was hit.
            The call itself lasted for about 30 seconds, it takes about 30 sec to power up the BUK TELAR radar and zoom in on the target and press the button, and the flight time of the missile is about 30 sec.
            That leaves only 30 sec for Igor Bezler to contact the BUK crew.

            Which means that Igor Bezler must have been in direct contact with the BUK crew, which is very unlikely because Igor was in charge of Horlivka, NOT in charge of (any BUK) in Snizhne.

            Besides, the BUK in Snizhne (with Russian crew) was only 12 km from the border, so they could have (and why shouldn’t they) have connected with a BUK command vehicle in Russia.

            So, it is much more likely that that “Bird flying to you” call was a fabricated call, to make us all believe that the BUK was controlled by a “spotter” while in fact the BUK was controlled by a BUK command vehicle which knew EXACTLY what they were shooting at.

          • LordCrankyPants

            No. The spotter’s call was real and accurate. It described the altitude of the “bird” and perfectly called the weather conditions. The Buk’s Fire Dome radar was already pointed in the right direction so didn’t have to search out the target.

        • Лена

          IFF – распознавание свой-чужой. Buk TELAR (СОУ) has Russian military IFF for which passenger planes and Ukrainian army transports are foes. Buk TELAR has a receiver for obsolete Soviet civilian transponders (УВД standard), but Malaysian Boeing had only incompatible Western transponder (RBS standard). Buk TELAR has a NCTR but it classifies targets to only 3 classes: helicopters (slow), ballistic missiles (fast without rotating parts) and all others called “aerodynamic targets”. I suspect that the TELAR commander (from Kursk) overrode the NCTR and manually switched to ballistic mode in order for the shrapnel to hit pilots at the forward tip of the target, not several meters to the back where usual military planes’ weak spots are.

          • LordCrankyPants

            According to Almaz-Antey via proximity fuse specs it provided to the Dutch Safety Board, the Buk made a textbook intercept of MH17. The Buk detonated as per design on an incoming target approaching from near dead ahead.

          • Rob

            Thank you Лена for clarifying that the crew of the BUK south of Snizhne did not know what they were shooting at.

          • Black Star

            They should have realised what they were aiming at. A passenger plane flies at different speed than AN-26, namely at about 900 kilometers per hour (top speed is 950 kilometers per hour, but passenger planes almost always select the most economical speed possible), while AN-26 top speed is only 540 kilometers per hour.

          • Лена

            Ukrainian army’s Il-76 transport plane can fly at same altitude and almost same speed as MH17. However, I don’t exclude all 3 versions of motive of the crime:

            1. The intended target was Ukrainian army transports and other military planes.

            2. The target intended by the upper command was Russian passenger plane Moscow – Cyprus to the west from Donetsk (over Ukrainian army positions) in order to create a casus belli. The TELAR was transported by error to another town with the same name Pervomajskoe.

            3. MH17 was the target intended by the upper command. This version was described by Illarionov, google for “Три версии теракта 17 июля 2014 г. – Андрей Илларионов”.

            In all three versions I suppose that the Buk TELAR crew (both the TELAR and its crew from Kursk, Russia) supposed that they fired at an Ukrainian army’s plane.

          • Fantozzi

            Proximity fuse mode “Ballistic Target” is stupid fake in MH17 cause. Missile exploded as designed and Almaz-Antey lied about another pattern of detonation like in scalpel cause.

  3. bukoed

    >>>I suspect that the TELAR commander (from Kursk) overrode the NCTR and manually switched to ballistic mode in order for the shrapnel to hit pilots
    That they would not have time to report that they were fired upon by a large SAM?

    • Лена

      Military transport planes (and passenger planes) can fly with small holes several meters behind the cockpit (for case if a missile exploded farther from the hull) but can’t fly with pilots dead.

    • LordCrankyPants

      The Buk emerged out of clouds flying faster than a bullet and approached from near dead ahead. The pilots never knew what hit them. The flight of the Buk to MH17 took about 30 seconds. The Buk solid fuel rocket motor only burns for about 15 seconds so the Buk was ballistic for the last 15 seconds which means there was no contrail that might have been noticed by the crew. The Buk made a near perfect hit at near maximum range.

  4. Mad Dog

    The only party consistently changing the scenario is the Russians. Why that is not accepted as proof of their culpability befuddles me. Only Trolls would continue to follow the (constantly changing) line of the MoD without question. Really reminds me of the Soviet Era when guys like Stalin would praise someone one day and have them erased from history the next, all the while such antics being accepted by rabid followers.

    • LordCrankyPants

      Russia has been obstructing justice regarding MH17 since July 17, 2014. Aric’s report on the Kremlin’s lies is exhaustive and accurate but covers perhaps only half of them. Throw in full on Kremlin troll activity on social media. The Kremlin itself has officially attacked Bellingcat by name.

      MH17 is an infected wound to Putin’s Russia that won’t heal.

  5. Sergey

    Isn’t it interesting that the Buk had been sent to war so far away from the Ru-ground base only with 4 missiles without a special vehicle-recharger and other supplements? So, we should consider the very limited mission of this Buk launcher: to make max 4 shots and return to the base. They aren’t planned to wage rather long anty-aircraft combat fighting, just hit-and-run purpose to create a pretext for invading Ukraine.

    • LordCrankyPants

      Remember, at the time the Russian Army Buk and crew murdered the 298 innocents aboard MH17 Russia was lying about having any involvement in Ukraine at all. It was a hit and run attack that had a set up story. At one point Putin’s minions were floating the lie that they had captured a salvageable Ukrainian Buk. They didn’t.

      • Sergey

        The lie is everywhere. Putin is a brilliant tactical-minded rogue, but is a blatant idiot as strategist. The only purpose of the West is to catch him red-handed with solid profound 100 % proofs, because he and his gang never admit their perpetration.

    • Лена

      Buk TELAR (СОУ) can be reloaded with new missiles with any usual crane, without special vehicle-loader (TEL, ПЗУ).

      • Sergey

        Of course by a crane and half a dozen soldiers. If you gonna to launch 1-2 missiles per week. But, if you at war, it is not so much convenient, isn’t it? Another question: Where are some more missiles to load? Where are spare soldiers, where is a crane? Nowhere…

          • LordCrankyPants

            Kremlin trolls are often reduced to claiming Russians are stupid when trying to defend Putin.

          • Sergey

            Could you answer my question about spare soldiers ‘in the pubs’, spare missiles in the mines and a crane in near bushes? Or you believe that process of recharging can be easily done by several miners or tractor drivers with the collective farmer tractor? We have already heard from a Russian politician that modern weaponry there in Donbas, with amusing Made-in-Russia tags, were found deep in the Ukraine mines on seized territory.

          • LordCrankyPants

            One hears a lot of bullshit and lies from Russians like how Russia doesn’t cheat at sports or that a Russian Army Buk didn’t murder MH17 or that Putin had nothing to do with Boris Nemtsov’s murder or that the Russian air force doesn’t intentionally target civilians in Syria.

        • Rob

          Sergey, I agree with you. It very much looks like the BUK was there for a one-time hit, not for a sustained and ongoing anti-air purpose.

          More evidence for that is that Strelkov was filmed on July 16 a bit further south of Snizhne, next to a Strela 10 anti-aircraft vehicle.

          So that area south of Snizhne did not need another anti-aircraft vehicle.
          Looks like the BUK was there for a different reason….

    • LordCrankyPants

      No. The Russian Army Buk and crew that murdered MH17 were using a spotter who called in the target.

  6. Rob

    Glad that after more than four year, we finally see a bit of discussion on the “spotter” call to Igor Bezler. Long overdue.

    Here is my take on it :

    First of all, if you are sending a BUK into Ukraine, regardless of if your intent is to shoot down a civilian airliner or not, you want to make sure that it gets commanded by a source that can reliably determine any potential targets.
    As Elliot mentioned before : You don’t just hand over the keys to the BUK and tell the separatists to have fun with it.

    Secondly, the BUK was installed just 12 km from border with Russia, which makes sense, since that is within radio reach from a BUK command vehicle just across the border.

    So it seems that the Russian military was not stupid and made sure that the BUK south of Snizhne would know what they are shooting at.
    If they did, of course shooting down MH17 would mean that it is an obvious deliberate act (of terrorism).

    So instead they staged a ‘spotter’ call just 2 minutes before they shot down MH17.
    A call to Igor Bezler. 2 minutes before the hit, MH17 was flying over Horlivka. So the spotter was in Horlivka. Now why would the spotter call Igor Bezler ? After all, Igor was the commander of Horlivka, was likely in Horlivka at the time of the call, and had nothing to do with the BUK in Snizhne.

    Besides, if you check the timing (30 sec phone call, 30 sec from BUK radar switch-on to pressing the button, and 30 sec missile flight time) Igor Bezler would have only 30 sec to contact the BUK crew. Instead Igor said he would “pass the info above (to management (which would probably be Strelkov)).

    So, it is very unlikely that that spotter call to Igor Bezler was actually in the chain of command that decided to switch the BUK radar on and press the button.

    It very much looks like the call was staged, to create a cover-up story that the ‘separatists’ accidentally shot down MH17. A story widely spread in MSM.

    The truth was much simpler and much more sinister : MH17 was shot down deliberately and pre-planned.

    • Rob

      Correction : It’s been more than 3 years (not 4).

      Also, my last sentence should be more accurate, like this :

      If the ‘spotter’ call to Igor Bezler was staged, this implies that the MH17 was pre-planned and deliberate.

    • LordCrankyPants

      Nope. The Russian Army Buk and crew that murdered MH17 relied solely on the spotter. The GRU didn’t want ELINT and SIGINT collected.

      • Rob

        LordCrankyPants, your opinion is not logical.
        If they used a spotter, and it was pre-meditated, then why did the spotter call an outsider (Igor Bezler) and not the BUK crew directly ?

        • LordCrankyPants

          Putin’s Buk and crew were illegally present in Ukraine to commit premeditated murder. Donbas is officially an ATO zone. Any killing done by Putin’s irregulars or Russian armed forces is murder by definition.

          The “Bird flying to you” (MH17) was murdered by the Russian Army. The GRU was certainly involved.

          Putin’s MH17 atrocity quickly spurred toughened sanctions against Russia. The verdict, Russia guilty of the mass murder of 298 innocents, was delivered 3 years ago. The evidence of Putin’s crime is overwhelming and conclusive. The penalty levied against Russia has cost it 100s of billions and pariah state status.

          • Rob

            I don’t disagree with any of that.
            But you did not answer the question.
            If they used a spotter, and it was pre-meditated, then why did the spotter call an outsider (Igor Bezler) and not the BUK crew directly ?

          • LordCrankyPants

            Who cares? The Russian Army Buk and crew murdered MH17. Russia is facing terrorism and torture charges at the International Court of Justice.

          • LordCrankyPants

            Putin doesn’t want you to know. It’s why he vetoed Malaysia’s UN tribunal proposal, fled the ICC and lies through his teeth about MH17.

          • Miran

            What if Dutch Court fails to prove his guilty?
            Will you apologise for lying?

          • LordCrankyPants

            Why did Putin veto Malaysia’s UN MH17 tribunal proposal and flee the ICC? Putin fled justice because Russia murdered the 298 innocents aboard MH17, many of whom fell fully conscious to their deaths including 80 children.

          • Miran

            1.You did not answer my question.
            2. The MH17 tragedy isn’t, unfortunately, a precedent, we have already witnessed civilian airliners shot down by militaries in history.
            3. There are jurisdiction institution established already in the international law for such case and there is no need to organize anything out of that form.

          • LordCrankyPants

            Your question was clownish nonsense.

            Russia murdered MH17 and KAL007 and lie about it.

            Immediately following the last JIT progress report, Putin fled the ICC. Immediately following the release of the Dutch Safety Board MH17 final report, was the sole no vote against Malaysia’s UN tribunal proposal. Only fools and Kremlin clowns deny Russia murdered MH17.

          • Miran

            Your curved logic is result of obsessive compulsive disorder which is blocking your brain to answer my question.

          • Rob

            If you look at the evidence, the “spotter” story does not make any sense :
            – A real spotter would call the BUK crew directly, not an outsider like Igor Bezler
            – Igor Bezler had almost no time (less than 30 sec) to contact the BUK crew after the call from the spotter
            – Instead Igor Bezler said to pass the information up the chain (to his management) which means the message would not reach the BUK crew in time.
            – Both the spotter and Igor Bezler were in Horlivka, and Igor had nothing to do with the BUK in Snizhne
            – The BUK in Snizhne was only 12 km away from the Russian border, and thus within radio reach of a BUK command vehicle, which would have had IFF information.

            This means that the “spotter” call to Igor Bezler was likely staged, and the real chain of command came directly from a BUK command vehicle just across the border.

            More evidence that indeed there was a BUK command vehicle just across the border on the 17th is here :
            and here :

            If the “spotter” call to Igor Bezler was indeed ‘staged’, it implies that MH17 was taken out pre-planned and deliberately.

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