After 13 months little facts are know about what caused the shot down of MH17. We know it was not a bomb.
What has been told by the organizations and states involved in the investigation so far?
- the preliminary report of the DSB said MH17 was hit by high energy objects
- a possible scenario according JIT is one in which Russia supplied a BUK system and crew.
That is what we know. What we also know from other sources is
- Almaz Antey, maker of the missiles used by the BUK, said MH17 must have been hit by a BUK missile
- Jeroen Akkermans, Dutch journalist, found parts of a BUK missile at the crash scene
- JIT anounced they found parts of possibly a BUK missile in Eastern Ukraine
- Damage is likely caused by a fragmentation warhead of a SAM according many experts.
- Nikolai Ivanovich Kozitsyn, longtime leader of Russia’s Don Cossacks, admits in a Vice interview that a missile shot down MH17.
- The Dutch government is not very keen on releasing information. Many documents are kept secret. Why?
Plenty of indications a BUK was the cause. Now what could have happened?
In short: Russia supplied a BUK missile to the separatists. Ukraine knew about the BUK but did not close its airspace. Instead it might have provoked the BUK to shoot by flying close to the position of the BUK. A terrible mistake was made by the crew in the BUK. Or for another reason MH17 was hit.
This post will provide my thoughts. It is a short summary. In a future post I will go into detail and show links explaining the circumstances.
Separatists required in July that Ukraine Air Force aircradt could be shot down by more advanced weapons than MANPADS. For example to destroy supply aircraft like the Antonov 26 and IL76.
To prevent Russia being caught in the act of supplying separatists with BUK systems an alibi was invented. Separatists suggested they stole a BUK from Ukraine army. In fact, one or more BUK TELAR systems were supplied by Russia. Also crews were supplied. The BUK TELAR was transported by separatists using a stolen Volvo truck and lowloader. Again to prevent evidence Russia supplied the TELAR.
At or before July 17 a BUK TELAR was transported by separatists to a field near Snizhne. It could be on July 17. It could be on July 16. Photos presented do not provide any proof for the date. The times the photos were made seem to suggest the route was indeed from Donetsk to Snizhne.
The transport of the BUK did took place. There are no Photoshops. There are various videos showing the red lowloader, Volvo truck and Toyota RAV4 cars involved in other separatists convoys. Finding out the correct date of when the videos and photos were taken is crucial. If the BUK transport took place before July 17 it is another indication Ukraine knew about BUKs in Eastern Ukraine and should have closed the airspace.
However not a single photo has EXIF information nor the photographer name is known.
Ukraine Air Force did not fly at July 16. However in the afternoon one or more SU-25 were operating in the neighborhood of Snizhne. Many eyewitness saw aircraft flying.
At July 17 a BUK TELAR shot down MH17. While there is no technical hard proof that it was indeed a Russian BUK plus crew, the response of the Russian Federation is suspicious. First they claimed that either a Ukraine fighterjet or BUK system shot MH17 down. Then all sort of stories were spread in Kremlin controled newspapers. Now the final DSB report in close to publication Russian press and state officials like minister Lavrov say the DSB investigation is done all wrong. Russia not once showed reliable evidence of Ukraine involvement in the shotdown. Most if not all evidence presented by Russia was debunked in days if not hours.
This is still no proof for any judge to prosecute Russia. It could be an Ukraine army BUK was positioned and shot at MH17. It could also be that one of the private armies in Ukraine got a BUK and shot down MH17 to put the blame on Russia.
Seeing the behaviour of Russia I put my money on Russian involvement. Russia did not have any motive to shot down an aircraft heading towards Malaysia. The Secret Service of Ukraine suggested the Russian BUK crew made an error and was ordered to shot down an Aeroflot aircraft. This is for sure a nonsense story from Kiev.
The BUK crew for sure must have thought they shot at a military aircraft. What could be the target and how was MH17 hit? That is a very difficult question to answer and I doubt we will get an answer within the next 6-10 years.
Lets provide some scenarios though:
- The BUK crew believed the airspace was closed for civil aircraft. A spotter located some 50km from the BUK informed the crew that the target was coming towards the BUK. The BUK crew was informed an Antonov 26 was their target.
An informant working at the airport where the Antonov 26 departed informed separatists about the planned Antonov flight.
The BUK crew only at the last minute switched on the radar to prevent detection by SU-25s flying nearby. The crew had little time to decide and launched a missile. Mistakes are not that unlikely. Remember the mistake a US Navy crew made by shooting down an Iran Air Airbus.The Su-25s could have been used by Ukraine to out the BUK crew on stress and keep the radar off as long as possible.
I think this is by far the most likely sceario.There is also a strange unreliable of the transponder which started at 13:18Z according avherald.com
Why became the data unreliable? Did the signal get spoffed/jammed to pretent MH17 was not a civil aircraft?
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200, registration 9M-MRD performing flight MH-17/KL-4103 from Amsterdam (Netherlands) to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) with 283 passengers and 15 crew, was enroute at FL330 about 20nm northeast of Donetsk (Ukraine) when the transponder data became unreliable at 13:18Z (position N48.28 E38.08) and was lost at FL330 at 13:20Z. The aircraft came down near the villages of Shakhtarsk and Hrabove (Ukraine) about 20nm from the last transponder position and 20nm from the Ukrainian/Russian border, the ELT of the aircraft was recorded at position N48.1230 E38.5258.
- The BUK crew saw an Antonov 26 flying at 6km. They shot a missile. The missile however hit MH17 at 10km. Maybe because the missile guidance system was compromised. See scenario 4.
- The BUK crew shot at a low flying SU-25. The missile missed the target. The missile found a new target being MH17. This retarget was the cause of the shotdown by an Ukraine S-200 missle of flight Siberian 1812 in 2001.Not a likely scenario. First of all a retarget can only happen if the original target has been destroyed. Also a retarget of a BUK missile is unlikely. Last as soon as a SU-25 aircraft has a lock from the BUK, there will be an alarm in the cockpit. The SU-25 would make all kind of movements. Ofcourse MH17 did not. So the operator must have thought in this scenario that something was not right.
- The BUK crew shot at a low flying SU-25. Just after the launch, the missile guidance by the Russian BUK TELAR was compromised by a Ukraine TELAR or other radar system. This system guided the missile to MH17. This Tweet from a Fin who claims to have been a BUK operator suggests the BUK missile guidance system can be compromised. Add the story of Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta that says Russia provided a BUK without missiles. The missiles were stolen from Ukraine army bases. Maybe for this reason it was easy to compromise the guidance. It would be a perfect scenario to blame Russia. We know a Ukraine BUK TELAR was in the area.
Scenario 4 explains why the United States was so quickly with saying it was a BUK launched from separatists controlled area. It also explains all the evidence (photos/videos) released by Ukraine. It also explains why the Dutch goverment keeps information secret. It also explains why Ukraine did not close its airspace.
Then there is this video. It was shown at a Ukraine military TV station. The video was uploaded on the evening of July 16. It shows an Ukraine BUK battery somewhere in Eastern Ukraine at July 16. It says it was in the ATO (Anti Terrorist Operation)region indicating Eastern Ukraine.
The location where the BUK was positioned is not known at this moment. Nobody was yet able to geolocate it. An Ukraine journalist comments on the video (includes english subtitles)
Notice the batches on the uniforms of the staff are blurred! Why would that be?
Before someone starts to think. An Ukraine BUK TELAR in separatists controlled area is impossible: that is not true.
At the end of July an Ukraine army convoy drove roughly from the North to the South crossing the Donetsk-Snizhne line. A long video of this trip was posted on Youtube but was taken offline for unknown reasons. Ukraineatwar website made a blogpost with many stills of that same video. It can be readhere. The video and blogpost indicated that it is not impossible an Ukraine BUK was located in an area which was according maps controlled by separatists.
The period in which the Ukraine Army drove this route is for sure end of July. One of the photos shows Dutch RTL journalist Jaap van Deurzen. He was in the area around that time. Jaap van Deurzen confirms he was end of July at that location. My guess around July 27/28. See the RTL Nieuws of July 28.
- SU-25s were flying very close to passenger aircraft to use as a human shield.
On the 18th of June, one month before this disaster, Elena Kolenkina, a Russian separatist in Sloviansk and the wife of rebel commander Arsen Pavlov reported that the Ukrainian Air Force were tailing civilian planes over Eastern Ukraine. The claims, if proven true, indicate that the Ukraine were using civilian aircraft as human shields.
In the foreboding footage, a uniformed Elena reveals in Russian, that “recently a passenger plane was flying by, and a Ukrainian attack aircraft hid behind it…it lowered its altitude and bombed a residential sector of Semenovka, then regained altitude and hid behind the passenger plane.” Kolenkina continues to explain that, “they wanted to provoke the militia to shoot at the passenger plane. There would have been a global catastrophe, civilians would have died.”
I doubt this is likely. A passenger plane is flying at 10km with a speed of around 900/950 km/h. A SU-25 cannot fly that fast. Let alone it can dive to bomb and climb and hit behind a passenger plane again.
Open to comments!