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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 arictoler@bellingcat.com

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202 Comments

    • Sergey Poleshchuk

      Thereis an explanation. Previously the saparatists downed some governmental military aircrafts. As the fall of MH17 was detected then the separatists alleged that it was just another transport plane. They alleged that it was AN-26. Encircled Ukrainian troops that time badly needed supplies. And previously namely AN-26s were used to trop the supplies.

      Reply
    • Rob

      In the first hour after MH17 was shot down, there seems to be real confusion amongst the ‘separatists’ as to what happened and who did it.
      Here is a chronology :

      16:18 : Call from “spotter” “Naimanets” suggesting that a “high flying bird” was heading his way. The spotter was likely in Horlivka, since that’s where MH17 was at the time. Bezler was also in Horlivka, which is just one reason why this call is suspicious.

      16:20 : MH 17 shot down

      16:33 : “Major” calls “Grek” to report that a plane was downed by the cossacs from “Chernukhino check point”.
      That’s obviously incorrect since we now know that MH17 was downed from a BUK south of Snizhne.

      16:40 : Bezler calls Geranin (Russian GRU) to report that “miner’s” group downed a plane near Enakievo.
      Note that Enakievo is some 35 km away from Grabovo, where MH17 came down.
      Bezler also got the timing wrong (he mentions 30 min, while in fact it was only 20 min).

      16:50 Strelkov posts on hi VK site that they downed an AN-26 near the mine “Progress” in the region of Torez.

      17:11 : “Major” calls “Grek” again, this time to report that the first “200th” is found and that it is a civilian.

      Note that in none of the prior calls was that AN-26 mentioned. So Strelkov must have gotten that info from somebody else. Maybe another piece of ‘staged’ information from the Russian GRU, to create a narrative to cover up the truth about MH17 ?

      Either way, it seems like there was a lot of confusion and incorrect messages went about the “separatists” in that first hour.

      The most interesting report here from that first hour is from Bezler.
      After all, he received the “spotter” call. So if he was really in direct link to the BUK south of Snizhne, HE should know what happened.

      Instead, he oddly attributes the downing to “miner’s” group, and incorrectly locates where the plane came down. That is another indication that Bezler was NOT in the chain of command to the BUK south of Snizhne.
      And that implies that the “spotter” call 2 minutes before MH17 was downed was ‘staged’ (meaning that the Russian GRU told “Naimanets” to call Igor Bezler at 16:18 and tell him that there was a “birdy” flying his way.

      Which in turn implies that the GRU planned the whole thing, very carefully, for a deliberate downing of MH17.

      Reply
  1. Sergey Poleshchuk

    Just a few days before the catastrothe (14 July)
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28299334
    BBC wrote
    A Ukrainian military transport aircraft has been shot down in the east, amid fighting with pro-Russian separatist rebels, Ukrainian officials say.
    They say the An-26 plane was hit at an altitude of 6,500m (21,325ft).
    The plane was targeted with “a more powerful missile” than a shoulder-carried missile, “probably fired” from Russia. The crew survived, reports say.
    ———————
    One could ask – why Kiev hadn’t closed the airspace over the war zone completely?
    A few days after the tragedy
    https://www.kyivpost.com/article/content/war-against-ukraine/two-ukrainian-su-25-shot-down-by-missiles-launched-from-russia-357590.html
    “After the Ukrainian pilots successfully fulfilled their tasks, they were targeted by powerful surface-to-air missile systems. Two aircraft were shot down at a height of 5,200 meters. According to initial reports, the missiles were launched from the territory of Russian Federation, he said at a briefing in Kyiv on July 23.
    Lysenko said that an inquiry was underway
    ——————–
    Remarkably, there were no claim, that MH17 was downed from Russian territory.

    Reply
  2. Rob

    I just came across a July 23, 2014 exchange on CNN’s Chris Cuomo and RT’s Peter Lavelle :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1Jgq5pqL1U
    Lavelle brings up the Russian MOD’s ‘evidence’ from their July 21 press conference, which we now KNOW were all utter lies (thanks to Bellingcat).

    I have to tell you that Lavelle’s argument makes me feel even more sick to my stomach, and I have ever so more respect for Chris Cuomo.

    Reply
  3. Miran

    Lenochka, i repeat my question to You:
    If there are enough much number of 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???

    Reply
    • Лена

      JIT needs to prove (in court) the motive of the crime as well as the means. Against the meanest Putin-paid defence counsel.

      I know the means (Buk and its crew from Kursk), but I have more than one version of the motive.

      Reply
      • Miran

        Why the JIT still did not prove the means and motive despite so many experts who claim they know, like You btw, the means at least. Do You know something that JIT doesn’t know regarding the means!? What would your knowledge about motives mean for the Court??

        Reply
        • Лена

          To prove only the means is not enough.

          I told JIT what I know. I have only open sources.

          3 versions of the motive is not enough for the court. JIT needs proof of only one version.

          Reply
          • Miran

            You want to say that 3 motive versions are too much, no not enough??
            What if there are more subjects with firm motives to let the event happen despite their awareness?

          • LordCrankyPants

            Motive is not germane in murder cases. There is, however, overwhelming evidence that Putin is responsible for the MH17 atrocity.

          • Miran

            There is discrepancy between your trumpeting about overwhelming evidences and reality since the JIT still did not start the indictment. You are self repeating all the time.

          • LordCrankyPants

            There is no discrepancy regarding the overwhelming evidence that proves Putin is responsible for the MH17 atrocity. Russian lies are are evidence of obstruction which, in a court, is evidence of guilt.

          • Miran

            Then who is obstructing the justice, the JIT that is postponing the indictment despite of being in possession of overwhelming evidences or Putin?

          • LordCrankyPants

            Russia is obstructing justice, Kremlin clown. Those directly responsible for the operation to commit murder are absolutely known by Putin and he is protecting them (if he hasn’t murdered them already).

          • Miran

            Your presence itself over here (and the presence of the other “experts” on social media including russian ones) are already pointing out that something is very strange with the case.

          • LordCrankyPants

            What’s strange? Russia is lying and obstructing justice again. Business as usual.

        • Miran

          “Motive is generally not relevant in murder cases.”
          Go, take a rest, you are over worked…

          Reply
          • LordCrankyPants

            Nope. Motive is not a factor in murder cases. Murder is murder. It doesn’t matter legally why one commits murder. The only motive related factor in a murder case is if there was premeditation and, in the case of Putin’s MH17 atrocity, there was.

  4. Miran

    Lord….
    “Nope. Motive is not a factor in murder cases. Murder is murder. It doesn’t matter legally why one commits murder. The only motive related factor in a murder case is if there was premeditation and, in the case of Putin’s MH17 atrocity, there was.
    Murder from sadistic excitement for example and murder in self defence are equal according your law theory!? There is premeditation in both cases.
    But of course it is mandatory to process every crime and that is why the Courts exist. Let the Institutions work their job, not you, me, bellingcat or pro russian bloggers…

    Reply
    • LordCrankyPants

      Killing in self defense is not murder by definition. Putin’s Buk was illegally in Ukraine to commit murder.

      Reply
  5. Smartass

    Motive is indeed not relevant is Dutch (and most other?) criminal law. Intent (which is different) may/can be relevant for the qualification of the crime. (e.g. premeditated, selfdefense, etc.) Very much information and BS of what is now the most likely scenario: A Russian BUK system was brought to the area to shoot down Ukrainian military aircraft and thus help the Russian backed separatists. Most likely they made a mistake and shot down the airliner thinking it was Ukr military. Of course Russia will never admit this and will do everything to blame others.

    Reply
  6. Richard

    I don’t understand the whole rocket story
    A german pilot saw a picture and found shelling on it.
    Meaning the plane got shot, and why was the pilot of mh17 asked to change the flyroute?
    (Right before the tragedy)
    Look at who was a target.
    Why blame Russia so fast?
    Think outside of the box.
    A ukraine fighter shot mh17 down and was spotted.
    What deal was made with ukraine?
    Big farma is a good thing to investigate.
    Check the passengerlist.
    The truth must come out

    Reply
    • Rastafiki

      From all the comments, that was the dumbest… Even russian trolls can do better than big farma

      Reply
    • KimmoK

      re-debunk-of-old-nonsense…

      “A german pilot saw a picture and found shelling on it.”
      The pilot was an idiot whose father was a Russian.
      He had no idea of physics or how weapons work & affect.
      There was nothing in air that could have done the shelling (proven by Russia, confirmed via UA military PSR)
      https://twitter.com/MH17_Study/status/944154024080748545

      The damage does not match any known air-to-air weapon. It matches only vs BUK 9N314M warhead.
      Found weapon fragments match only BUK missile & warhead.
      https://twitter.com/KimmoKannala/status/972887119671775232
      https://twitter.com/KimmoKannala/status/935731041469419520
      https://twitter.com/KimmoKannala/status/932213778418151425

      “why was the pilot of mh17 asked to change the flyroute?”
      That was always a silly Russian MoD lie.
      MH17 pilot asked permission to change the flight path slightly, because of bad weather.
      Deviation was ~6km when MH17 was shot, otherwise the route was same as on previous days.
      Deviation did not cause the shootdown.
      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DXoLPs8X0AEbPnS.jpg

      “Look at who was a target.”
      MH17 was the only airplane in range.
      It was the target, passenger list:
      http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/MH17PassengerManifest.pdf

      “Why blame Russia so fast?”
      1) Russia announced that rebels did the shootdown. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DYBi0LqWAAAYyTO.jpg
      2) It was known rebels did not have BUK + competence beforehand, so RU must have given it.
      3) BUK had been seen in rebel hands via social media info.
      4) Possibly US SIGINT satellite captured TELAR targeting radar.
      5) US SBIRS satellites tracked the BUK flight above clouds (came from pro-RU area).

      “Think outside of the box.”
      Better focus on facts + evidence and to try to find out exactly WHY and by WHO the launch command was given.

      “A Ukraine fighter shot mh17 down and was spotted.”
      1) It is proven that there was no UA fighter jet near MH17. (via Radars)
      2) Clouds prevented seeing above clouds well enough.
      3) Alarm siren were not played in the area, so most likely there was no UA jet under clouds either.
      4) No f.jet caused damage on MH17.

      Initially eyewitnesses reported a missile, when civilian bodies were found, pro-RU fans started to lie about f.jet.
      etc…

      “Check the passengerlist.”
      Why?
      Do you think pro-RU wanted to kill Russians with AIDS, so they shot AIDS researchers??
      It does not make sense.

      Missile flew provenly from rebel area.
      (see DSB map of the only possible launch area and BUK launch smoke photos from pro-RU area)
      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DX_k1dSX4AABPWJ.jpg
      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DYBiyFIX4AAtarY.jpg
      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DYBizzSW0AIbCZ0.jpg

      Reply
      • RoyToy

        Good to see that all those ‘Richards’ have run out of new stories and theories already some time ago. Obfuscation only works for a limited amount of time

        Reply
      • muchandr

        Dude, it is not difficult to find a video of a Buk firing a missile. Find one and check out how dense the smoke trail is. If this is one, the picture was taken hours late. How come?

        With everybody agreeing that the plane was predominantly flying West-East direction, how come the missile hit it top left of cockpit? That’s pointing NE instead of somewhat expected SE or S. Puzzled. How come? Somebody ought to have at least mentioned by now how the missile came around. Since the crash site is NW of supposed launch site, no trajectories chasing after the plane allowed.

        Reply
        • EM

          “If this is one, the picture was taken hours late.” – lol. What? “hours”? Who said? Voices in your head?
          “how come the missile hit it top left of cockpit?” – lol. Not a rocket , but a shrapnel. The “BUK” missile explodes, and hits the target with shrapnel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHzavUArAXQ
          “Somebody ought to have at least mentioned by now how the missile came around” – sure, and it is not a sicret. “The final destination of the BUK-system was on farmland near Pervomaiskyi”. https://www.om.nl/onderwerpen/mh17-crash/@96068/jit-flight-mh17-shot/
          Your delusional insinuations are primitive and disgusting.

          Reply
  7. Tourist

    MH17: Missile could have evaded radar detection

    04 April, 2018 SOURCE: Flight Dashboard BY: David Kaminski-Morrow London

    International investigators have confirmed that a surface-to-air missile fired at a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER could have avoided detection on radar.

    Such a weapon could have simply been travelling too fast for the surveillance processing capabilities of the civil radar station at Ust-Donetsk, the analysis indicates. Ust-Donetsk is located in the Rostov region of Russia.

    See https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/mh17-missile-could-have-evaded-radar-detection-447293/

    Reply
  8. muchandr

    So, to stick it to the Russkies doctoring some images, the latest 2018 JIT report take some Russian dashcam videos and piece them together with 3D computer animation?!?

    Most Buks seen all around Ukraine have their board numbers painted on them, those from Russian dashcams JIT used often did not. If the numbers were painted over once, why would insurgents who supposedly got them paint them back on? The numbers represent regimental structure. They are painted over if the vehicle is going somewhere where that structure is not preserved, like storage or refurb. Same in Russia and Ukraine, has nothing to do with operational deployment like JIT say.

    And there nothing in either explanation to suggest that the videos of non-specifically numbered vehicles somehow are the same exact vehicle. Based on “7 random white splotches” which are the opposite of unique and with segments spliced together with computer graphics, it is a lot more likely they come from different vehicles. That may have nothing in common but numbers painted over? Of course they all must be with Kursk 53rd and nothing else.

    There is a full regiment of Ukrainian Buks sighted all over the place, the 156th AA artillery. Here is a fairly complete catalogue of images of all their vehicles

    https://zmei-cvdk.livejournal.com/632.html?nojs=1&thread=376

    (very light on Cyrillic text) So far, looks like a kangaroo court to me. Which Buk shot the plane? One of the above of course. With overwhelming probability there is no need to involve a road transport from Kursk of yet another Buk with numbers painted over than, for some reason, painted back on.

    The investigation needs to move on to the real question who did it? It is not impossible that the insurgents, but there need to be an explanation how did they managed to hotwire the thing. It is supposedly password-protected!

    “Conflicting Kremlin narratives” are a non-sequitur. It is an ongoing investigation, with people trying different versions. Not everybody is on the same page. Not every version from Russia or Russians necessarily is the same as Kremlin’s For the record, mine may be. IMHO, the West has no right to criticize till Russia is invited to participate in investigation. Why was Ukraine? There is no official Kremlin version till than, as it is normal procedure otherwise to involve all.

    Reply
    • EM

      “So, to stick it to the Russkies doctoring some images, the latest 2018 JIT report take some Russian dashcam videos and piece them together with 3D computer animation?!?” – lol. What?
      “Of course they all must be with Kursk 53rd and nothing else. ” – YES, because:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhyd875Qtlg
      https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2017/10/20/new-mh17-photograph-geolocated-donetsk/
      https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2017/06/05/pre-mh17-photograph-buk-332-discovered/
      https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2017/06/05/mh17-drivers-russian-june-july-2014-buk-convoy-trucks/
      https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2015/10/08/exploring-russias-53rd-brigades-mh17-convoy-with-storymap/
      https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2015/10/08/exploring-russias-53rd-brigades-mh17-convoy-with-storymap/
      https://www.om.nl/onderwerpen/mh17-crash/@103196/update-criminal-0/
      So, yes, it is “BUK” from 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile brigade, Kursk, Russian Federation. NOT Ukrainian Su 25, NOT Ukrainian Su 27, NOT Ukrainian BUK, NOT Ukrainian MiG 29. Just Russian BUK…
      “It is an ongoing investigation, with people trying different versions.” –
      “Not every version from Russia or Russians necessarily is the same as Kremlin’s” –
      Russia and Russianas “versions” are disinformation, lies, propaganda or manipulation in 99% of cases, and it comes from state-funded (Kremlin) media, Olgino (Kremlin) trolls, even Russian President Putin was not ashamed to distribute the “version” of Carlos, the Spanish air traffic controller.
      “West has no right to criticize till Russia is invited to participate in investigation” – lol, nice try, but RUSSIA VETOED!!! MH17 UN International Criminal Tribunal. NOT “West”.
      “Why was Ukraine?” – Are you stupid? These are the rules of the ICAO. Because MH17 crashed on the territory of Ukraine.
      “There is no official Kremlin version” – There is “over 9000” Kremlin/Russian Defence Ministry/Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs official versions full of lie and propaganda.
      P.S. Try to work better next time, comrade.

      Reply
      • muchandr

        OK, lets try again. You conveniently included the JIT video, which uses dashcam shots of several vehicles, some of which have board numbers painted over and some have a number 3×2 and 312. Natural expectation is that these are unrelated vehicles. Instead, the videos are complemented with computer graphics supposedly demonstrating that you cannot see the numbers due to the sun’s position and so on.

        The “center of gravity” marking and “H-0200” meaning “oversize load, 2m excess height” are obviously the same for all of same model Buks being transported and are part of some international standard, judging by Latin H. It is likely, the Ukrainians do the same, or at least should, when transporting theirs. You don’t see those markings on their Buks because they moved around under their own power or otherwise not very far.

        Since you did not comment of vehicle catalogue I posted, here is a video, showing 3xx battalion from Luhansk oarked on the side of the road between Gorlivka and Soledar

        https://youtu.be/Bj-VZB0ZdEA

        coordinates 48°42′7″N (48.702036) 38°8′46″E (38.146036)

        They belonged to 156th Ukranian AA regiment. There is an interview with a soldier actually serving on #312 you see on the video about 37 seconds in, for which Bellingcat procured English subs. They guy says the #312 could not have been it, because someone else was joyriding it with manual on and caused a massive electrical fire inside. This makes me think the 3×2 seen a lot is the same as Luhansk 312 with fire crackling external paint. For all I know, the 3×2 clocked in Russia could be the same vehicle sent from Luhansk to Russia for repairs, as was the procedure before the war. It all depends on exact date of them.

        It does not help that normal procedure is to transport those using the railroad instead of public roads and cover them with tents, which does not generate exciting dascam shots. I am sure most military hardware around was transported that way. It does not help that some 3×2 shots used in early Bellingcat investigation and Paris Match belong to a rare M2-1 family loader vehicle using same chassis and not a launcher.

        Quantity of evidence is no substitute for quality. It reeks of intellectual dishonesty to be clinging to 53rd brigade story, with so many identical Ukrainian Buks obviously deployed on the region at the same time. They are at least as many Buks with identical board numbers as they are individual regiments/brigades in both Russia and Ukraine. Yet nobody even mentions those.

        The Bellingcat story alone is changing all the time also, specifically with respect of border crossing uses. For a road transfer to/from Kursk the earliest transfer point is NE of Luhansk. This is what 2016 preliminary jIT investigation claimed. The 2018 one has the vehicle towed all the way around Ukraine to enter somewhere S of Donezk from Millerovo on Russian side, the furthest possible point from Kursk. Of course, you can film a lot of military vehicles there, with Millerovo being a major railroad hub. There was, however, and still is a direct railroad connection between Kursk and Millerova. Russia rerouted the small section of the rail track that is in Ukraine between Zhuravka and Millerovo. Most of it was in LDNR though. Why would enter Ukraine and that leave for Russia again to unload? And indeed there was a direct train connect 1/2 as long from Kursk to Slavyansk or Gorlivka. Not that until 2018 rerouting, all of Russian passengers and freight on massive Moscow-Adler (Sochi airport) trunk went through war-torn Ukraine anyway!

        Moving the presumed entry point for vehicles to the furthest point away from Kursk looks like a cover up for the fact that there was a 3xx battalion based in Luhansk all along. According to the interviewed soldier, they were told to leave and stay out in the open field (see video above) but left behind their loader vehicle and possible a couple of non-operational launchers. The civilian white Volvo truck sighted in Luhansk obviously returns a launcher to its regular base. Its the Buk with 3 missiles out of 4. Note that under normal circumstances when a battalion has an operational loader, they reload missiles in the field and also that I made no claims as to who owned all those Buks at the moment, Ukraine or the rebels. That many vehicles deployed already make it entirely unnecessary to invent the 53rd Kursk involvement though, yet nobody even mentions those.

        Ukraine has an effective veto right per NDAs the investigation parties signed. Usually Interpor / Europol frameworks are entirely sufficient for the cops to cooperate. This is not an ICAO investigation, but by police of 4 countries and undisclosed 3rd parties. There cannot be any “Tribunal” before there is even a proper investigation.

        Reply
  9. EM

    LOL.
    “shots of several vehicles, some of which have board numbers painted over and some have a number 3×2 and 312.” – not several, It’s all one and the same BUK.
    “Since you did not comment of vehicle catalogue I posted” – Your “vehicle catalogue” shows nothing. Also video. Nothing to comment.
    “They are at least as many Buks with identical board numbers as they are individual regiments/brigades in both Russia and Ukraine. Yet nobody even mentions those.” – Lol! wake up! Ukrainian Buks were far on the north, near Izyum at the time of the MH 17 disaster. You want “mention”: https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2016/03/09/8188/
    “Ukraine has an effective veto” – maybe, but do not use it unlike Russia.
    What do you want to say? That Ukraine have Buks? Yes. So what? Egypt also, Belarus, and even Finland. And Russia, of course.
    Do you have any evidence that the Ukrainian 156th AA regiment BUK shot down MH 17? Or another Ukrainian BUK? Or another Finnish/Georgian/Azerbaijanian BUK? Have you? OK! Contact JIT https://www.politie.nl/themas/flight-mh17/witness-appeal-crash-mh17.html
    You haven’t ? OK! Go f***ck yourself!
    P.S. Try to work better, not dumber, comrade

    Reply
    • muchandr

      All 72 of the launchers Ukraine had were too far North? That’s exactly 4 regiments worth. It is unusual for more than one batallion’s worth to be in the same place at once.

      Which one is the same Buk? The 3×2 and 312? According to the fellow interviewed claiming service with #312 easily possible, with 3×2 being 312 after electrical fire he mentioned. Then it was badly broken and didn’t shoot anything. The link that you just sent yourself claims it was at Kramatorsk airfield. Very likely place to get repairs BTW, best in all of Ukraine! Should it be in working condition, it is well within range to cause MH17.

      Belingcat’s most recent reporting leans towards a claim that 3×2 is the same as the 332 of the Kursk 53rd. Lets say it is. Why is this relevant, with footage of either vehicle coming from Russia only? They should be comparing with the vehicle supposedly seen in Torez that actually did fire at MH17 from a field nearby. They do try and it does not work very well. Not much evidence connecting it to any of the Russian vehicles and no number at all. You can find it in their full pdf report that is 73 pages long only.

      Which brings us back to the Ukrainian regiment. They’ve got a 312 ( second vehicle on my video ) and a 332 ( last vehicle ) Why not look at them? They had every reason to be where their official bases were, like in Luhansk. Unlike the Kursk 53rd vehicles only hypothesized to have crossed into Ukraine. Trying to implicate Russia so hard violates Occam’s razor. It is an unnecessary 3rd entity to an investigation where two suffice – Ukraine, driven by paranoia that Russia is invading any second ( still observable ) and mistaking a Boeing for a large Russian bomber or something and the rebels mistaking the plane for a Ukranian An-26 troop transporter ( they shot one before albeit using ManPADs at much lower attitude) What motive would Russia have to shoot down the plane? It surely had its regular safety procedures in place that it uses every time there are military maneuvers.

      Supposedly, the rebels got 4 in just one operation. They were not necessarily mobile, but possibly could shoot. Here is one, #322

      https://twitter.com/stabilizec/status/509116114240933888

      picture taken at known coordinates. This one is very rare and barely seen together with the rest of the 3rd battalion.

      300, 313, 322, 333 left at Lugansk on March 4, captured by LNR rebels on June 3 at base A-0194, and confiscated by Russian military and taken to Russia.

      This would be their command vehicle, 2 TELs and only one TELAR, #322. Should not be too hard for Ukraine to demonstrate that particular vehicle if they still have all of theirs, right? If they can’t it is possibly a vehicle LNR hijacked. Could they have hotwired it than? It is not trivial, they are supposedly password protected.

      Anyway, this trail is way cold by now, with Ukraine being able to demonstrate whatever by now. Too bad, that vehicle is among the easier ones to track due to distinctive scratched radome. I think it is some pretty fine work of mine for a couple of days. I just started 🙂

      Actually, I did write to JIT about the interview with the fellow from #312 because they wanted to hear about the crew using their Twitter. They did not respond, that’s how I know its a kangaroo court. Matters not, they likely already know since Bellingcat does. Thanks for the link though, I’ll try again using that, why not. I figure they are also mostly interested in studying Kursk 53rd, even though footage of them is not really from Ukraine.

      Uhm, speaking of Finland. It turns out this is how they’ve been signing the strange NDAs instead of cooperating through existing Europol / Interpol channels like cops usually do. Take a look for NDA here

      https://corporalfrisk.com/tag/buk/

      It turns out they were secretly buying a Buk-M1 TELAR and the same model missiles from Finland as their 2016 investigation implicated, who is an at least one of the undisclosed third parties to investigation. Since that leaked, they backtracked and now presenting an older missile, made in 1986. The resource I give you is from 2016 and is no friend of Russia. Observe them mocking a Russian claim a 30+ year old rocket still worked. Well, Almaz-Antey said that right away. The butterfly-profile shrapnel is from their oldest model missile which is no longer in Russia’s inventory. Not supposed to be since 2001, with official shelf life being 15 years. Tell me it doesn’t look like the Dutch intended to plant the evidence from Finland?

      Reply
      • CAD

        “Almaz-Antey said that right away. The butterfly-profile shrapnel is from their oldest model missile which is no longer in Russia’s inventory. ”

        OMG! What a solid prof “Almaz-Antey said…”
        Sound same as murder would say one haven’t used that knife since 2001 😀

        Remember when “rebels” danced a dance of victory as another An-26 shot down, until… until ir appeared to be a passenger aircraft?
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMIbHZvFnDs

        Armed unfriendly forces, highly supported by Kremlin by accident downed MH17 – deal with it.

        God bless Google street view and Chinese video recorders!

        Reply
        • muchandr

          “Dance of victory” just proves there was no intent to shoot down anything but Ukranian Airforce planes, if anything. Somebody saw something big burning in the field and made big claims. Are you suggesting this is some kind of a useful lead?

          You can call them insurgents if you want. You may not call them terrorists like Ukrainian government does, because they do not attack civilian targets behind frontlines. Ukrainian government does.

          You see no irony in a government that came about thanks to previous government stepping down to avoid further bloodshed starting off with a “police action” of their own, only instead of cops with teargas and rubber involving tanks, rocket launchers and air force instead?

          Reply
          • CAD

            Who says they intended to down civil aircraft? It was a MISTAKE!
            What was Putin’s comment right after disaster in 2014?
            “the guiltiest part of this event is the Country who caused the disturbance in the region”. Strangely not the people, officers or armed forces who launched the missile, but “the country”. The president of RF already indirectly defending itself. However taking into account that the Kremlin is the one who caused all the disturbance – he’s already “screwed”…

            I call them “ihtamniety” ant the terrorist reside in Kremlin 😉

          • EM

            “You may not call them terrorists like Ukrainian government does, because they do not attack civilian targets behind frontlines” – Really?
            How about several bombing in Kharkiv, murder of Pentecostals in Slaviansk, Volnovakha bus attack, Mariupol rocket attack, Kramatorsk rocket attack, etc.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/January_2015_Mariupol_rocket_attack
            https://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/140271
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Pentecostals_in_Slaviansk
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volnovakha_bus_attack
            https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2018/05/07/russian-officers-and-militants-identified-as-perpetrators-of-the-january-2015-mariupol-artillery-strike/

          • muchandr

            Most of those qualify as “collateral damage” done to civilians accidentally caught on frontlines. This is losing cause for the government. They’ve got a lot more cases implicating them of firing on populated areas. Of course, they would claim that the insurgents were deliberately hiding among the civilians and would not be too wrong. Most of territories under LDNR control are cities of Lugansk and Donetsk proper and their various burbs, which happen to be large cities densely populated.

            On more abstract grounds, the Ukrainian government has some nerve attacking people with heavy armor and aircraft after the previous government they were supportive of stood down to avoid further bloodshed. There is no evidence of riot police that was visible having anything but 12 gauge shotguns shooting rubber bullets and teargas canisters. Whoever was shooting both protesters and police using 7,62 mm rifles is still undetermined. Other than that, there is no particular difference between Maidan and anti-Maidan protesters. They all occupied government buildings, attack and disarmed police, build barricades and burned some tires. This is why I accuse the Kiev government of this war.

            This Russian Orthodox Army does seem to qualify as a terrorist organization, but the fact that they claimed to be fighting on LDNR side does not implicate LDNR leadership in actually sending them to kill some religious freaks of a different faith. Religious extremism is quite apparently not one of their motivations.

            Other than that, the distinction between terrorists and proper combatants is rather technical. The LDNR wear some kind of uniform into battle that distinguishes them from civilians and claim to protect some kind of territory from invasion, giving frontlines. This clearly makes them combatants under Geneva convention for example entitled to POW treatment and a whole thing a war and no “ATO”, ie a police operation. A good example of the later would be British government acting against IRA or Yugoslavian government acting against UCK. You could only equate LDNR with those groups if you catch them disguising themselves as civilians and blowing something up in Kiev or Lviv. I don’t remember this ever happening. Moreover, I distinctly remembered Kiev government supporting blowing up stuff in Crimea instead. Who is the terrorist than?

          • EM

            “Most of those qualify as “collateral damage” done to civilians accidentally caught on frontlines.” f*ck!!! “collateral damage”? – The murder of civilians far behind battlefront is “collateral damage”? You’re a sick bastard.
            “They’ve got a lot more cases implicating them of firing on populated areas” – no, you lied.
            “There is no evidence of riot police that was visible having anything but 12 gauge shotguns shooting rubber bullets and teargas canisters” – lie, they use 12 gauge buckshot and metall bullets.
            “This is why I accuse the Kiev government of this war.” – The war began when Russian combatants with Russian weapons led by Russian citizen Girkin invaded the territory of Ukraine.
            “religious freaks” – watch your words, scum.
            “The LDNR wear some kind of uniform” – yep, ISIS also wear some kind of uniform. And Osama bin Laden (he wore American M-1965 Field Jacket) – so, with your logic, he was “American combatant” LOL.
            “This clearly makes them combatants under Geneva convention for example” – no, you lied.
            “Moreover, I distinctly remembered Kiev government supporting” – bullsh*it. no comments
            “You could only equate LDNR with those groups if you catch them disguising themselves as civilians and blowing something up in Kiev or Lviv. I don’t remember this ever happening.” – and they do this. In Kharkiv.
            https://www.npr.org/2015/04/06/397774803/despite-tenuous-truce-in-eastern-ukraine-bomb-attacks-increase-in-kharkiv
            https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31575384

          • muchandr

            Calling civilians killed in military action collateral damage is not my invention, but US government’s. By that bit of Newspeak they usually mean they did not mean to.

            Now Girkin is the Russian invasion I hear so much about? Since when does he have any role with the Russian government? He is a retired colonel interested in historical reconstructionism. It is when grown men dress in military uniforms and mock-refight historical battles. You don’t have to believe him its for real.

            Nobody but Ukraine classifies LDNR as terrorists, only as separatists that most nations do not recognize as a bonafide nation. They don’t have to explain themselves for it and neither do I. I volunteered an explanation to you as something having to do with Geneva convention’s treatment of “combatant” and “non-combatant” Do inform yourself. It is extensive beyond the studies of Ossama’s attire, though I’d venture to say he got it back when he was a CIA operative 🙂

            Murder of somebodies belonging to Pentecostal Church by members of something called Russian Orthodox Army is violence between two religious sects, yes. I haven’t heard about either before, but they are likely classified as such in Russian and Ukrainian law. This means that even if they don’t kill each other, they may not sell their candles tax-free unlike officially recognized churches. They may be able to collect donations. Do you belong to either? Your problem. Again, scum yourself of course, with the usual note that insulting me personally does not refute any of the arguments I made. Your obvious lack of understanding of high school level arithmetics is also disconcerting. Did you finish high school yet? Would explain a lot about your juvenile behavior. There is no religious undercurrent to this particular conflict, with mostly non-religious people followed by the same Orthodox branch on both sides, so leave this alone.

            Even the sources you give stop short of accusing LDNR of a blast at some sort of a Nazi rally in Kharkiv. Indeed, why go that far to find someone who dislikes them?

      • EM

        Lol.
        “All 72 of the launchers Ukraine had were too far North?” – No one Ukrainian Buk was on the launch site.
        “Which one is the same Buk? The 3×2 and 312?” – The same BUK 332 from 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile brigade, Kursk, Russian Federation.
        “Not much evidence connecting it to any of the Russian vehicles and no number at all” – reading problems? a lot of evidence:
        https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2017/06/05/pre-mh17-photograph-buk-332-discovered/
        https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2017/06/05/mh17-drivers-russian-june-july-2014-buk-convoy-trucks/
        https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2015/10/08/exploring-russias-53rd-brigades-mh17-convoy-with-storymap/
        “Which brings us back to the Ukrainian regiment. They’ve got a 312 ( second vehicle on my video ) and a 332 ( last vehicle ) Why not look at them?” – because these Buks look completely different than the Buk that shot down MH17. And they was far to the launch site.
        “Unlike the Kursk 53rd vehicles only hypothesized to have crossed into Ukraine” – not “hypothesized”, this is a fact.
        “Ukraine, driven by paranoia that Russia is invading any second ( still observable )” – not paranoia. Russian invasion is a fact.
        “and mistaking a Boeing for a large Russian bomber ” – mistaking? The plane crossed half of the territory of Ukraine, communicated with Ukrainian air traffic controllers, flew on a given corridor. And after that the Ukrainians thought that Boeing was actually a Russian bomber. After that, they sent Buk deep into the territory that separatists/russians hold, shot down Mh17, and returned back. And you say about “Occam’s razor”? You are a sick
        “300, 313, 322, 333 left at Lugansk on March 4, captured by LNR rebels on June 3 at base A-0194, and confiscated by Russian military and taken to Russia.” – bullsh*t, no comments.
        “It turns out they were secretly buying a Buk-M1 TELAR” – no.
        “and the same model missiles from Finland” – yes, not a secret, so what?.
        “The butterfly-profile shrapnel is from their oldest model missile which is no longer in Russia’s inventory.” – it’s just a lie.
        “Not supposed to be since 2001, with official shelf life being 15 years.” – also just a lie.
        “Tell me it doesn’t look like the Dutch intended to plant the evidence from Finland?” – no, it’s look like your delirium.

        I saw a lot of your stupid thoughts, links that prove nothing and conspiracy theories. The question is simple: do you have any EVIDENCE that the Ukrainian Buk from 156th AA regiment (or another Ukrainian/NotUkrainian Buk) shot down MH 17?
        If YES : Contact JIT https://www.politie.nl/themas/flight-mh17/witness-appeal-crash-mh17.html
        If NO : F*ck yourself!
        It is simple even for you, comrade.

        Reply
        • LordCrankyPants

          Sorry, Rusky troll. MH17 was struck by a Buk that approached from near dead ahead launched from a field ~10km south of Snizhne. No Ukrainian Buks there. You lose, fool.

          Reply
          • muchandr

            I prefer simply Russkiy without the troll

            If I interpret the data plotted by https://www.movable-type.co.uk/ correctly, the bearing from a triangle with ends on Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur is about 30 degrees, with plane going somewhat southbound, but more eastbound. Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t this particular flight diverted due to bad weather and told to flight straight east towards Russian border? There were some conspiracy theories related to that. So it is not the dead ahead, but more like crossing over to another side of the plane. Somebody with JIT has actually thought about it, but not too much. If you look at their animations, they do have the missile crossing from the right to the left-hand side of the plane, but not in a way that is feasible with a proximity fuse. Needs to be dropping from higher attitude, I figure.

            There is no evidence about that field. Somebody was driving tracked vehicles through that field? A part of it burned out? Nothing unusual. It is a feasible location based on the strength of a Buk sighting on morning Jul 17th in nearby Torez, There was than a location hint from US authorities that was supposed to be backed up by satellite data, but it never was. Now that the missile is from 1986 after all, it is certainly passively homed, ie guided from the vehicle that launched it all the way to the target. The original M1 is supposedly restricted to 120 degree sector wide (OK) yet only 7 degree raise (very little) making it able to target anything only for a short moment it comes over its observable horizon. Using that, they should’ve been able to narrow it down a whole lot more or discard altogether.

            Why not for example Kramatorsk airfield, which was in range and where they was also a battalion radar vehicle? Or the vehicle sighted in Torez was not in M1 state of tune. (As I pointed out elsewhere, an odd second roller is characteristic of MB mod possibly as recent as 2005)

        • muchandr

          “No one Ukrainian Buk was on the launch site”

          This is if you insist that the site in Pervomaiskiy by Snizhne site is it. It is feasible due to a Buk sighting in nearby Torez, but does not disqualify other suspects yet. They’ve found a field somebody was driving tracking vehicles through that field, a section of the field burned out and no visible trail. So, site evidence itself is not very impressive.

          However impressive the investigation connecting a Buk with 3×2 numbering to a Buk 332 the 53rd had in 2010 all of those are filmed from the opposite side and in Russia only. The relevance of that is not much. The suspect Buk was filmed in Torez and Donezk had no numbers painted and was filmed from the opposite side. The only relevant Buk from Russia was sighted in Stariy Oskol later filmed from the same side, also had no numbers painted and had characteristic second roller. This is something. Or not, given that I just found that those possibly characteristic of Buk-MB modernization done in Belarus. Those are neither in official service in Ukraine or Russia, which explains there being no regimental-specific numbers. Something like this

          http://www.ausairpower.net/PVO-SV/Buk-MB-MiroslavGyurosi-1S.jpg

          It is not secret after it leaked. You may offer your own explanation why bother with NDAs? If they just wanted to have some Buks for doing experiments, like they say, nobody would hold it against them. So why all this secrecy? Note that in the end, the 2018 choice of missile is much older than that in the original DSB claim? How come? I find accusations heaped on Russia delirious.

          Of course, technical information coming out of actual manufacturer of the system must be fake if it doesn’t fit your favorite narrative. Russia must have also faked all of their technical standards they had in place since forever, like the ones about missiles having official shelf life of 15 years.

          This is not exactly the first time Ukranian AA defenses shoot down a civilian flight for no apparent reason

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberia_Airlines_Flight_1812

          The JIT have ignored me so far, but I will try again, don’t worry.

          Reply
          • CAD

            Again, the idea of “benefit in tragedy” is escalated by Russian media in order to mess up whole picture.
            “Why russians need to down the civil aircraft, what’s the reason..?”
            a.k.a “Why drunk driver hit pedestrian, what’s the reason..?”

            Explanation (not for You, because you already understand everything, but for those who read)

            The event of 2001:
            – reason to launch missile – armed exercise.
            – the consequence – accidentally downed civilian plane. Mistake.

            The event of 2014:
            – reason to launch missile – to down Ukrainian warplanes.
            – the consequence – accidentally downed civilian plane. Mistake.

            SIMPLE 😉

            All matches and mismatches, locations are explained in report. Stop beating about the bush.

          • muchandr

            I think it is Ukraine who benefited in the end, with separatists losing most of whatever sympathy they had in the West.

            This was far from apparent ahead of time and I don’t suggest intent. Ukraine however did once already used a SAM to shoot down a civilian flight

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberia_Airlines_Flight_1812

            So it is fairly valid to be suspect of their IFF trackers. The weakest part of the report is the connection to vehicles in operative service with Kursk 53rd. Even if the 3×2 vehicle is the same they had as 332 in 2010, it came out of storage. There is not supposed to be any operational original M1s anywhere in Russia by now. Also, all those pictures are from Russia. There is no reliable connection between sighting of left-hand and right-hand side if you look carefully. The only possible connection of suspect vehicle seen in Torez with no board number painted in Russia is the one seen alone in Stariy Oskol. That is, if you believe to have identified a specific wheel pattern in the first case (damn hard to see) If yes, I’d say the roller pattern is not unique, but fairly rare. Here is a new vehicle

            http://www.ausairpower.net/PVO-SV/Buk-MB-MiroslavGyurosi-1S.jpg

            See the odd roller? It is a Buk-MB deep upgrade for M1 offered by Belarus starting at about 2005. No number because not officially in service with Russia or Ukraine, possibly a test mule. That would explain the surprising efficiency of shooting with 1986 model missile which requires constant guidance to targets. It is very hard to see how original M1 restricted to some 7 degree elevation could make that shot.

            Incidentally, the Berorussian manifacturer, “Agat” offers an upgraded radar vehicle from co-production with Ukraine that looks nothing like the works one, but rather one of those insane wheeled trucks. Back in Soviet times they made a command-and-control system controlling more than single regiment / brigade of Buks

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyana-D4

            Me thinks that if indeed there was a vehicle from operational service with the 53rd and not from storage, it would’ve come with a crew. And they would not have mistaken a Boeing 777 for An-26 unless on purpose. This is one large accusation to make. Why exactly would Russia do something like that is also a very legitimate question to ask than. So, I think what is going on is rather an attempt to clear Ukraine of criminal negligence also. That is if separatists are not recognized as anything else but Ukrainian citizens, who hotwire an Ukrainian vehicle to shoot down a plane in Ukrainian airspace. With Ukraine claiming the An-26 on Jul 14 was shot down at 6300 m height. (contradicted somewhat by notorious Buk having all 4 missiles on 17th) There are no ManPADs shooting that high, so they should have closed the airspace in theory. The only precedent I know of is

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_3

            A German research plane flying to Antarctica was shot down by Polisario Liberation Front. They ended up picking a bone not with Polisario, but with Marocco whose air control it was. Polisario was at war with Marocco. The only difference is that UN (and Germany) did recognize Polisario’s right to self-determination on the moment of shootdown

          • Lena

            There are 4 photos of the missile plume trail: 2 shot from Snezhnoe and 2 shot Torez. They point to the field near Pervomaiskiy south from Snizhne.

          • muchandr

            Where? I’ve seen one set of photos claimed to be the plume and requires significant imagination to see it there. This is what a fresh plume looks like

            https://youtu.be/DDXScnEKaP0?t=26s

            It is unmistakable. If the very thin vertical smoke? or cloud? on those pictures is that same plume, it was taken half-an-hour? Hours? late. I have no idea how long really, but somebody does. Those pictures need supporting explanation on what took them so long. Note that by the time somebody got to the site of the crash, it was overcast and possibly raining there, meaning too late by than.

          • Lena

            There are photos and videos on July 17 of the Buk with 4 missiles and video on July 18 with 3 missiles on the way back to Russia.

            Otmaz-Antey used a missile made in 1987 for their propaganda “experiment” in 2015. They said that the missile was from MO.

          • muchandr

            Yes, it is obviously a candidate speaking for the nearby site in Snizhne if you want. I was saying that is the primary, with nothing interesting about the site otherwise.

            Buks missing missiles in general were dime a dozen at the moment

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5hyKBnFu90

            if you are to extend the search to ones not in possession of separatists. That’s the 1st battalion from Avdeevka, which lost their TEL loaders there and could not reload in the field. Any kind of hit by 1986 missile that requires constant guidance from the vehicle is damn unlikely by a lonely M1 TELAR, which makes me think either Kramatorsk airfield where they did have a radar vehicle. Or the one in Torez being that

            http://www.ausairpower.net/PVO-SV/Buk-MB-MiroslavGyurosi-1S.jpg

            Note the familiar roller pattern. Not unique, but fairly rare. It is a recent Buk-MB upgrade performed by Belarus, not officially in service in either Russia or Ukraine. Note that if it is a vehicle from Torez, it is far from certain that separatists did not get it from Ukrainian army. Even if it was in the end evacuated to Russia. This whole thing with the vehicle from operational service of 53rd in Kursk is IMHO the weakest part of the story and is so popular because it clears Ukraine even of criminal negligence charges.

          • muchandr

            Sorry to repeat myself, but here is a video from the entire 1st Battalion with all their missiles expended, no later than 20th in Lozovaya.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5hyKBnFu90

            Most critically, they’ve got their radar vehicle with them, giving them ability to paint a target at 55 degree elevation. A lonely Buk-M1 TELAR could not have taken this shot, because 26 km distance is at about 22 degree elevation

            https://www.triangle-calculator.com/?what=&q=b%3D10+A%3D90+B%3D22&submit=Solve

            The 7 degree elevation is exceeded at 82 km, also an impossibility for a missile with 35 km max range.

            https://www.triangle-calculator.com/?what=&q=b%3D10+A%3D90+B%3D7&submit=Solve

            In order to confirm the 7 degree limitation you just have to demonstrate its presence in pre-2014 sources, which I think is possibly. The JIT also had plentiful opportunity to confirm or debunk this claim using the launcher they purchased from Finland. Yet they prefer to follow a rather circumstantial trail to 53rd from Kursk to which nothing new was contributed since original Bellingcat investigation from 2014 except some computer animations. How come nobody bothered to prove or disprove claims based on high school level trigonometry?

            Other than Avdiivka or whereabout, where the entire battalion seemingly expended its missiles, another possible launch location is Kramatorsk airfield. Nobody seen escaping from there, but Bellingcat confirmed simultaneous presence of a radar vehicle and at least one TELAR on site. Added benefits for that site is missile actually approaching the plane from the left-hand site and it being a missile test range where missile trails are nothing unusual. This would explain nobody bothering to take a proper picture of the missile trail. Here a plot of flight recorder data of last few minutes

            http://tumetuestumefaisdubien1.sweb.cz/MH17flightpath-last7minutes.png

            Unless there is a debunking of the 7 degree elevation limiting TELARs radar, there needs to be an explanation who or what painted the target. Otherwise it simply cannot target anything flying 10 km high.

          • EM

            Bla-bla-bla. You just blow smoke like many other Russian/Kremlin trolls before (and most likely after) you.
            So, you have no proof that the Ukrainian Buk from 156th AA regiment shot down MH 17. BS with zero evidence.
            So, you know what to do, comrade )))

          • muchandr

            Of course I do not, but they could have. This argument is no worse than that for “Separatists Buk”, as they were also seen retreating with missiles expended, so why different treatment? For me, the possible candidates are sites where there was also an operational radar, which can target elevations up to 55 degrees at 160 km

            Based on basic trig I already gave you elsewhere, a 26 km shot requires 22 degree elevation accessible to the radar.

            https://www.triangle-calculator.com/?what=&q=b%3D10+A%3D90+B%3D22&submit=Solve

            It is inaccessible to a single Buk-M1 TELAR based on published specs limiting it to 7 degree elevation, which must have been known since forever. When is that elevation reached?

            https://www.triangle-calculator.com/?what=&q=b%3D10+A%3D90+B%3D7&submit=Solve

            82 km away. Also useless with missiles going no further than 35 km and radar reaching maybe 50. This gives two likely sites

            1. Kramatorsk airfield, where some vehicles of the 3rd Battalion went for repairs. There is no shots of retreating vehicles, but the site has an added benefit of being a missile test range, where it is nothing unusual in a missile trail. That would explain why nobody bothered to take a proper picture of one.

            2. Avdiivka, where the 1st Batallion was stationed. Seen running with no missiles left in Lozovaya, with the command vehicle and radar vehicle with them.

            Thus, pending the 7 degree claim being disproved, are my candidates better than “Separatist Buk” Otherwise is there no way to target anything flying at 10 km with a lonely M1 TELAR. There is also not necessarily that great of a connection of “Separatist Buk” to 3×2 one, only to the numberless one in Stariy Oskol.

          • EM

            “I think it is Ukraine who benefited in the end, with separatists losing most of whatever sympathy they had in the West.” LOL You “think”? Who cares?
            “This is if you insist that the site in Pervomaiskiy by Snizhne site is it.” -not my “insisting” – proved fakt. https://www.om.nl/onderwerpen/mh17-crash/@103196/update-criminal-0/
            “And they would not have mistaken a Boeing 777 for An-26 unless on purpose.” – why? because you said? LOL
            “Why exactly would Russia do something like that is also a very legitimate question to ask than” – to shot down Ukrainian military planes.
            “That is if separatists are not recognized as anything else but Ukrainian citizens, who hotwire an Ukrainian vehicle to shoot down a plane in Ukrainian airspace” – Girkin, Motorolla, Chmuriy, Ivannicov etc are not Ukrainian citizens. They are Russian citizens. Mh 17 was shot down with Russian “vihicle” BUK 332 from 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile brigade, Kursk, Russian Federation.
            “I think what is going on is rather an attempt to clear Ukraine of criminal negligence also” – Again. You “think”? Who cares? It’s you who are trying now to clean Russia off crime.
            “Buks missing missiles in general were dime a dozen at the moment
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5hyKBnFu90” – LOL it is Losovaya, Kharkiv oblast. Far northwest.
            “which makes me think either Kramatorsk airfield” – you are moron!!! You are not able to “think”. Ukrainian Buk missiles range is 35 kilometers. Kramatorsk airfield is located at the distance more than 80 kilometers from the place where missile hit the Mh17.

          • muchandr

            It is no longer in range, but neither is “Separatist Buk” filmed near Russian border. They are doing the same – running away from the crime scene. So, what did they do with all of their missiles? Lozovaya is closer to Donezk than Kharkiv anyway. This is 1st Batallion from Avdiivka, also well in range to have taken the shot. Unlike the 3rd Batallion that left their barracks in Luhansk, eventually breaking some of their vehicles, and were seen all over, these guys stayed put until separatists attacked Avdiivka. They are known to have lost 2 TELs in the fight (lostarmor has pictures)

            I find it very critical that they have their command vehicle and radar vehicle with them. This is how Buk-M1 system was intended to be used. Some trivial calculations. An airplane flying in 10 km height comes over horizon (0 degree elevation) some 357 km away. This is when you can see a Buk on the ground from an airplane. Not a chance to see back. An object 2 m height over ground has its horizon about 6 km away. You can find discussion here

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horizon

            but to summarize, distance to visible horizon in km equals 3.57 times square root of height in meters. Lets see how far is an object reaching 7 degree elevation over horizon

            https://www.triangle-calculator.com/?what=&q=b%3D10+A%3D90+B%3D7&submit=Solve

            I get 82 km, not a chance. A more realistic distance of 26 km is reached at 22 degrees.

            https://www.triangle-calculator.com/?what=&q=b%3D10+A%3D90+B%3D22&submit=Solve

            This is just high school trigonometry in an interactive applet. Try other parameters, any 3 suffice to resolve a triangle. Should the Buk-M1 TELAR be restricted to 7 degrees elevation, it cannot conceivable see and/or guide missiles to target in 10 km height. You need an external radar vehicle, which is much much taller, if nothing else. The main factor to observable horizon being observer’s height is non-negotiable, it just basic math. Since JIT did buy a launcher from Finland, they should have checked the feasibility of that shot by now, since the angle is just one factor affecting it. Alternatively, you need to find the 7 degrees in data published before 2014, which I thing is a given. Almaz-Antey simply prefers to give performance data in hit probabilities against target type, because who knows how they arrive at this figure. To put it simple, their old product sucked without the large radar. Nothing change for M1-2 upgrade. Much changed for M2, which has a distinctively flat radome never sighted in Ukraine. Different sources give 70 to -5..85 degrees elevation for it, meaning that if there is a blind spot at all, it is directly overhead of the vehicle. There is no necessity for the larger vehicle carrying the radar, but there is a vehicle on a common chassis called TAR which hoists the same small radar TELARs have to a height of 21m using an extendible mast, because height determines event horizon like I point out above.

            The only possible excuse for any Buk with original radome would be if Buk-MB upgrade performed by Belarus was used. Its capabilities are not publicly known and it may very well have a distinctive roller pattern. There is nothing reliably connecting the 3×2 Buk and 332 Kursk one to numberless “Separatist Buk” seen in Torez, though distinctive roller pattern potentially connects it to one seen in Stariy Oskol.

            Yet again, you fail to see the difference between the crash site coordinates and coordinates of where the plane was hit by a missile along the flight route. If somebody threw you out of a plane at 10 km height, even you also would take several minutes to reach ground at terminal velocity determined by your weight. Maybe somebody should do that, you don’t seem to learn otherwise 🙂

          • EM

            “Lozovaya is closer to Donezk than Kharkiv anyway.” – no, you lied. Lozovaya is closer to Kharkiv than to Donezk.

            “Separatist Buk” filmed near Russian border” – not “separatists”, but Buk 332 from 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile brigade, Kursk, Russian Federation
            “Yet again, you fail to see the difference between the crash site coordinates and coordinates of where the plane was hit by a missile along the flight route.” – Unlike you, I do not confuse anything.
            http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2014/images/09/09/mh17.report.pdf
            https://www.webcitation.org/6cFSGnsRg?url=http://cdn.onderzoeksraad.nl/documents/report-mh17-crash-en.pdf

            “The audio recording included the internal cockpit flight crew communication which contained no indication that there was anything unusual with the flight. The Cockpit Voice Recorder audio recording ended abruptly at 13.20:03 (15.20:03 CET). A replay of the Cockpit Voice Recorder audio recording did not identify any aeroplane aural warnings or alerts of system malfunctions.”
            The last radio transmission made by flight MH17 began at 13.19:56 (15.19:56 CET)
            and ended at 13.19:59 (15.19:59 CET).”
            All was fine until Mh17 was hit by missile at 13.20:03 (15.20:03 CET). It was near Rozsipne. After that: “the centre and rear parts of the aeroplane were estimated to have taken about 1-1.5 minutes to reach the ground. Other, lighter parts, will have taken longer.”
            Ukrainian Buk missiles range is 35 kilometers. Kramatorsk airfield is located at the distance more than 80 kilometers from Rozsipne (the place where missile hit the Mh17). Avdiivka s located at the distance more than 50 kilometers from Rozsipne (the place where missile hit the Mh17).
            A missile fired from Kramatorsk or Avdiivka could not hit MH17. It is physically impossible.
            “Maybe somebody should do that, you don’t seem to learn otherwise 🙂”
            Very funny )))
            Maybe somebody should tell your mom that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is bad for the child’s intellect. But it’s too late)))

          • muchandr

            I did not actually measure the distance to Lozovaya, I simply looked at the map. Call it in the middle. Either Donezk proper or Kharkiv are irrelavant, though I suppose they may be going to that Izyum airbase further up N in Kharkiv oblast. That is not a lie, but you ignoring the important point. Lozova is close to the Donezk oblast borders. Why is it OK to consider the “Separatist Buk” filmed running away in Luhansk but not a whole battalion running away to Kharkiv? I expect that everybody who had Buks shooting missiles that day chickened out and ran.

            10000 m / 90 sec gives 111 m/s component of speed vector going in downward direction. What happened with forward component of plane’s speed of 250 m/s initially? It cannot disappear, only change direction, according to preservation of momentum laws of physics. Should the plane somehow be magically redirected downward and drop vertically, would it only accelerate to way beyond speed of sound or until it falls apart. Yet, all the parts of the plane were found no further then 8.5 km in Hrabove, which is less distance than the plane lost in height. This is impossible. These guys are lying, planes do not fall like briks, they maintain a significant forward momentum and take many minutes to stall. Even if it did immediately disintegrate into small parts, they’d be spread over much larger area if it happened remotely close to 10 km height. I know for a fact from pictures I’ve seen that they’ve found an engine still mostly in one piece. You are welcome to model how far that should be flung. These guys are obviously lying and I caught them red-handed with flight-recorder power thing.

            They seems to be consistent effort to move the crime scene southbound to LDNR or Russia. Just like the new entry point for presumed 53rd near Millerovo, Makes no sense to drive something from Kursk all the way around Ukraine to get to major railroad hub which you can approach directly with a train. But why exit to Russia again, instead unloading in LDNR behind which most of this rail passes? Moreover, why not take the direct connection Kursk-Gorlivka which is like 1/3 the distance?

            There is no number 312 or 3×2 ever seen on “Separatist Buk”, it was filmed from the opposite side. Why is it important to implicate this particular one? I think it is interesting to verify whether it is at all possible for an M1 to paint that target. Doesn’t look that way.

          • muchandr

            My mother does not drink at all and the nick “muchandr” is unique, unlike yours. I use it everywhere.

            You can easily find out what my real name is. I simply do not want to pollute Google results for people searching for my real name with pages of Bellingcat, as me and Google seem to disagree on importance of this site in the big scheme of things.

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