Dueling Narratives: Responsibility for Shoot-down of MH17 Still Unclear
November 19, 2014
Frank Coletta / Daily Mail & Tom Parfitt / The Telegraph
The Bellingcat Investigation has concluded that the Russian military supplied separatists with a Buk missile launcher prior to the July 17 shooting down of Malaysia Airlines MH17. Russian state television, meanwhile, has produced a "satellite image" that allegedly shows Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 being shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet.
'MH17 Was Brought Down by
Weapon Supplied by Russian Military':
Report claims 'undeniable evidence' that
missile launcher was provided to rebels in Ukraine
Frank Coletta / Daily Mail
(November 9, 2014) -- A new report into the shooting down of flight MH17 has concluded that the Russian military did supply separatists with a Buk missile launcher and their evidence also shows rebels were most likely to have been responsible for the atrocity.
An online report called the Bellingcat Investigation, which combines citizen journalist and social media accounts, used publicly available published and broadcast material plus eyewitness material, including satellite images.
'There is strong evidence indicating that the Russian military provided separatists in eastern Ukraine with the Buk missile launcher filmed and photographed in eastern Ukraine on July 17,' the on-line report states.
'There is undeniable evidence that separatists in Ukraine were in control of a Buk missile launcher on July 17th and transported it from Donetsk to Snizhne on a transporter.
The Buk missile launcher was unloaded in Snizhne approximately three hours before the downing of MH17 and was later filmed minus one missile driving through separatist-controlled Luhansk.'
The report from the team, led by UK journalist Eliot Higgins, states that 'in the aftermath of the downing of MH17, photographs and videos were posted on social media sites claiming to show a Buk missile launcher in areas close to the MH17 crash site'.
'Using a variety of tools and techniques, the Bellingcat MH17 investigation team has been able to establish the exact location at which these images were recorded and the approximate time that many of the images were recorded.
'Based on this information, the investigation team has mapped the route of the Buk missile launcher through separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine on July 17th.'
The authors said that 'our investigation was made possible by the examination of open source material overlooked by other organisations'.
It comes as Dutch investigators reported that more human remains at the MH17 crash site in Ukraine almost four months after the airliner was shot down over the war-torn country.
An official from separatist authorities in the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, made the announcement but it's unclear if they were of passengers on the doomed flight or of combatants who died in fighting that has taken place in the same area.
The Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam en-route to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over Ukraine on July 17.
Australia and the United States have accused Russian-backed rebels of shooting down Flight MH17 using a missile supplied by Moscow.
Russia has repeatedly denied the claim and pointed the finger at Kiev over the disaster. The Netherlands is leading the official probe into the downing of the Malaysia Airlines jet, in which all 298 on board, including 193 Dutch nationals and 38 Australians, were killed.
The Bellingcat investigation states that 'the Buk missile launcher was unloaded in Snizhne approximately three hours before the downing of MH17 and was later filmed minus one missile driving through separatist-controlled Luhansk'.
Bellingcat identifies markings on transporters as well as registration details throughout the chronological account.
'Based on the above information the Bellingcat MH17 investigation team concludes that at some point in late June, vehicles that were part of the June 23rd convoy from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade separated.
Some of these vehicles returned to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade base in Kursk and joined the July 19th convoy from the base, while at least one other, a Buk missile loader, appears to have left the main convoy and towards the Ukrainian border, close to a separatist-held crossing.
'As yet, it has not been possible to establish when the June 23rd convoy returned to the 53rd Anti-aircraft Missile Brigade base in Kursk, or how many units were in the convoy.
'However, it is clear that at least one Buk missile launcher (3x2) from the June 23rd convoy was inside separatist-controlled territory on July 17th, and 3 days later a video was uploaded showing that the Buk system loader unit was very close to the Ukrainian border.
'Considering the established time frames, logical routes, and photographic evidence, it is possible that this Buk missile launcher was part of the same June 23rd convoy as “Buk 3x2” and supported it.
'In the opinion of the Bellingcat MH17 investigation team, the Buk missile launcher filmed and photographed travelling through separatist-held territory on July 17th is the same vehicle seen in the convoy travelling through Russia towards to the Ukrainian border in late June 2014.'
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated that the Netherlands-led investigation will do all in its power to retrieve all the remains but conceded that was it was now unlikely all victims would be recovered.
A Dutch Safety Board report into MH17 found, in September, that a 'large number of high-energy objects' penetrated its fuselage.
Prosecutors are still working establish exactly where the missile was fired from with a view to taking action against the perpetrators.
Russia Says MH17 Was Shot Down by Plane Missiles
State television claims to have received the
'sensational pictures' showing the Boeing was
shot down by cannon fire over Ukraine
Tom Parfitt / The Telegraph
(November 14, 2014) -- Russian state television has produced a "satellite image" that allegedly showed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 being shot down by a fighter jet yesterday, in what appeared to be a crude fake deliberately released on the eve of the G20 economic summit.
Channel One presented the image, said to have been taken moments before the passenger jet crashed in eastern Ukraine, as a smoking gun that confirmed how MH17 had been downed, killing all 298 people on board on July 17.
"It's well know that at the [G20] summit in Brisbane, the Australian prime minister [Tony] Abbott has threatened to confront our president about the Malaysian Boeing," said the presenter, Mikhail Leontyev, who is one of Vladimir Putin's chief propaganda mouthpieces. "Let's try to make his task a little easier."
A Russian engineer investigating the crash told the programme he had received the "sensational picture" on November 12. The channel showed an email in English from a "George Bilt", supposedly a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and aviation expert, who claimed the Boeing was shot down by cannon fire and missiles from a plane.
Moscow has suggested in the past that a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet was tracking the passenger liner.
Russian and international bloggers quickly pointed to what they said were a mass of discrepancies with the supposed satellite image, including the fact the markings on the side of the Boeing were in the wrong place for a Malaysia Airlines jet, the clouds in the picture were identical to those in a Google Earth image from 2012, and the image was not consistent with the flight path of the jet.
An investigation by the Dutch Safety Board published in September found the jet was pierced from the outside by a large numbers of "high-energy objects". That finding was consistent with the main theory about the crash: that the plane was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher located on territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels. Such missiles explode next to a target, destroying it in a hail of shrapnel rather than blowing it up.
The apparent Kremlin demarche came as Ukraine's prime minister said that creating an army strong enough to withstand Russian belligerence was the country's top priority.
"Building an army which is capable of stopping aggression from Russia, is the number one task," Arseny Yatsenyuk said during a televised briefing with reporters in Kiev yesterday. His remarks were broadcast as a five-year-old girl was reported killed in shelling in the east of the country.
Ukraine's government and western countries accuse Moscow of sending troops and tanks into the Donbas region to support thousands of rebels who are fighting to enlarge two breakaway "people's republics".
Ukraine's military reported on Friday that "movement and concentration of Russian troops and militants' groups is being continuously observed" in the conflict zone.
Earlier last week, Moscow denied that a single Russian serviceman had entered Ukraine across their mutual border, despite Nato reports of columns of tanks and other hardware mounting incursions.
That denial has looked increasing frayed. Last weekend, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported long columns of military vehicles, some towing howitzers, travelling through rebel-held territory.
On Thursday it said it had seen a van apparently carrying dead Russian combatants out of Ukraine into Russia, as well as more than 600 people in military uniform passing through one checkpoint in a week, "mostly into Ukraine".
Moscow responded on Friday by accusing the OSCE of only reporting on rebel troop movements while ignoring a buildup of Ukrainian forces in the region.
"We get the impression that [the OSCE'S] efforts are directed at helping and supporting only one side in the conflict, the official authorities in Kiev," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
The OSCE insists that it is impartial. Meanwhile, Ukraine has said that is redeploying troops in the area and bracing itself for a Russian-backed rebel offensive that could target the key city of Mariupol on the coast of the Sea of Azov.
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