An overview of possible BUK launch locations

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The possible launch location of the BUK missile is yet unknown. Severall eyewitnesses report different locations.

Lets provide an overview of the possible launch locations.

Basically there are three possible launch locations reported:

1. West of the small village Red October/South of Snizhne. This location was first geolocated by Ukraineatwar based on the photo showing a plume of what could be a BUK missile. Months later RTL Nieuws reported about this location as well.

2, Area between Saoer Mogila, Saurivka and Stepanivka. This is hardly reported by media. Dutch newspaper Volkskrant and TV station NOS talked to several witnesses and these claim the missile originated near Stepanivka. (and  not from the RTL/Ukraineatwar location which is a few hundred meters from where those eyewitnesses live)

3, Area near the village of Zarochenskoe. This area is not part of the area indicated by final DSB report. However Almaz Antey states the BUK must be fired from here.

The locations below are proven to be wrong.

1. Chernukhino

2.  A field field just north of Snizhne. Reported only by German investigation bureau  Correct!v. And printed by Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad and German magazine Der Spiegel. DSB final report did not mention this as a launch site.

The map below shows these three possilbe positions.


1. West of Red October and South of Snizhne

This location was determined by blogger at Ukraine@war based on the photo of a smoke plume. The photo was made by an inhabitant of Torez.  Ukraine@war could not determine the exact launch location. His blog is here.

The area is was  controlled by separatists at July 17.

Journalist Roland Oliphant went to search for the exact location of the launch based on the geolocating done by Ukraine@war. He did find an interesting spot. The ground was partially burned. Ukraine@war has a blog about this. Oliphant did find a piece of plastic what looks like to be military.Based on the logo People on internet found out the name of the company who produced the plastic . The plastic could not be connected to a BUK. Most likely it is used in MLRS GRAD type of rocket systems.

The soil was partly burned. It is not uncommon for farmers to burn the ground in spring.

At July 22 the US Embassy in Kiev released an image showing the trajectory of the missile based on SBIR (Satelites using Infrared to detect missile launches) data. The launch location is very close to the location determined by Ukraine@war.

At December 22 RTL Nieuws reported about the photos of the smoke plume and showed a new, previously unknown photo of the plume. That one was taken seconds after the first one. RTL had the photos investigated and came to the same conclusion about the launch spot.

At January 22 Bellingcat published a detailed analyze of information on the launch location.


3. Area between Saoer Mogila, Saurivka and Stepanivka

This area is mentioned by quite a few witnesses yet not a single media spent much attention to it. The intereting aspect of this launch location is that it could be controlled by Ukraine army at July 17.  It is about 30 km away from the location where MH17 was hit by a missile.

Lets see what witnesses say:

1. Witness 1 is a woman. She  most likely lives in a small village south of Snizhne called Chervonyi Zhovten’ Червоний Жовтень. This is translated to Red October. Locals call it Beregis. Her conversation on Zello (a popular walkie talkie app on mobile phones) was recorded. Ukraine@war has the conversation here.


The Dutch NOS news and newspaper Volkskrant went to East Ukraine to follow the trail of the BUK. The report can be read here.  They went to the village Pervomais’kyi Первомайський which is a couple of 100 meters East of the launch spot described by all media as the mosty likely one (East of Red October, south of Snizhne).

However none of the eyewitness who saw the missile point towards the South of Snizhne spot (RTL/Ukraineatwar). They all (the article does not mention the number of eyewitnesses but at least 4 different ones are mentioned) point towards a location southeast of Pervomais’kyi near Stepanovka.

De Volkskrant reports about a witness who told the missile was launched from Saoer Mogila.

Reuters published an article at March 12. Reuters spoke to severall inhabitants of Chervonyi Zhovten (Red October).

One of then,  Anastasia Kovalenko, 14, said she saw a rocket flying over the village. Olga Krasilnikova, 30, also said she saw a rocket, some time between 4 and 5 p.m. “I saw it was flying, flew right over me. From that side,” she said, pointing to the outskirts of the village . “I saw smoke in the sky, then I heard an explosion and I saw a huge blue (cloud of) smoke.”

Taken together, the accounts do not conclusively prove the missile launched from near Chervonyi Zhovten was the one that brought down the airliner, because none of the villagers saw it actually being launched.

Pyotr Fedotov, a 58-year-old resident gave a Reuters reporter directions to a field 1.5 km from the village, which he said had been identified to him by local farm workers as the point from which the missile battery had launched the rocket.

Volkskrant also went to Tsjervony Zjovten (Chervonyi Zhovten’ Червоний Жовтень or Red October). A skinny man reports he was working on a field and saw a missile overflying. He states the missile was launched from behind Saoer Mogila


 4. Chernukhino

Ukrainian authorities have released what they say are intercepted phone conversations between pro-Russian separatists and what appear to be Russian military officers saying that separatists shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. The recording (BBC) says:

[Male voice, captioned as “The Greek” ] Yes, Major.

[Major] Well, the Chernukhino lads shot down the plane.

[Greek] Who shot it down?

[Major] From the Chernukhino roadblock. The Cossacks at Chernukhino.

Location is around here  48°19’35.29″N  38°29’38.06″O

5. Field just north of Snizhne

Detectives of German bureau Correct!v went to Eastern Ukraine. They talked to inhabitants of Snizhne. A few people living just north of the village Snizhne said they heard a bang originating from the KhimMash  factory (Химмаш in Russian)

The location is here at Google Maps ( 48° 3’32.74″N  38°45’5.96″O).

The full report is here.

The area is was  controlled by separatists at July 17.

This location is very unlikely for various reasons. Only Correcti!v reported this site. Correct!v is not known for being a specialist. They report that a BUK missile is located in a container. This is simply incorrect.

The missile is launched out of a fireproof container, leaving few visible burn marks on the ground; the launch vehicle in turn leaves marks on the ground that are identical to those of a tank.

Max van der Werff discovered a photo taken minutes  after the crash. It was taken from the north of Snizhne. It does not show a BUK missile plume.

The photo overlooks a major part of the field Correct!v claims the BUK was launched. The origin of this photo is interesting.

Arnold Greidanus did some research.

The photo was first posted on a Russian forum by someone called  Anna Vatavu at April 13 2015:

She says the photo was handed over to her by a witness. No EXIF info available.

Anna Vatavu also has a Twitter accouunt  (@AnnaVatavu ) with the same name. She is in touch with Max van der Werff.

Starting March 24 her account was changed to @A_Grokholskaya

At april 2 the account was suspended. Anna lives in London where she studies. She is from Russian origin. &

She does not seem to be neutral or innocent. It does not say much about the photo but keep this in mind.

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8 Comments on An overview of possible BUK launch locations

  1. Prosto Tak // May 27, 2015 at 4:01 pm // Reply

    1. There’s another, separate and independent geolocation of a possible launch site by a Russian blogger Sergei Parkhomenko that points to a field just 300 m further from the one identified by @UkraineAtWar and Bellingcat; it looks like I can’t post links here, so find it (in Russian) at on March 17.

    2. CORRECT!V did a great job but they also had some serious blunders, and one of them was going north of Snizhne while the Buk was known to have been seen driving south.

    3. There are lots of similar Soviet Communism-related place names throughout the Donbas. They say there’s also a neighborhood called Oktyabr (“October”) in a southern part of Snizhne town itself. So it looks like Witness 1, or Woman B was there – and not in a small hamlet named Krasnyi Oktyabr in Russian, or Chervonyi Zhovten in Ukrainian (“Red October”) where most people would hardly use ‘Zello’. In that case the direction from there to Saurivka points at the fields found in your No.1. (You can also find another Chervonyi Zhovten about 25 km SE of Snizhne, at the Russian border.)

    Also, NOS/De Volkskrant reporters could not have visited “Pervomaisk” near Snizhne as there’s no such place there. There are two separate villages south of Snizhne with similar names, Pervomaiske and, further to the south, Pervomaiskyi. The reporters have obviously visited the first of them, Pervomaiske (otherwise they would have to pass it through to get to Pervomaiskyi and would have known the difference). From there, the direction to the fields from No.1 is more or less to the South — if a bit to the East, it’s to Stepanivka; if a bit to the West, it’s to Saurivka village and Savur-Mohyla hill (called Saur-Mogila in Russian).

    And, as Reuters reported without giving the direction, the fields from No.1 are in fact about 1,5 km from the Chervonyi Zhovten hamlet near Snizhne.

    • The Dutch newspaper writes;
      Net onder Pervomajskoje ligt Pervomajski, een dorpje van acht straten
      so it does mention Pervomaiskyi which is the southest of two almost similar villages. East of Pervomaiskyi is the ukraineatwar launch site.

  2. Don't Believe Bellingcrap // May 27, 2015 at 8:24 pm // Reply

    US Embassy in Kiev is a child’s illustration on Google Earth. US SBIR doesn’t exist if Uncle Sam can’t release even a sanitized, declassified version. NSA ELINT of a BUK Kupola radar emitting in separatist held Torez on July 17 is the dog that did not bark — perhaps in part because so many of the Ukrainian BUKs were lighting up the skies too the same day the NSA had problems with its over the horizon sensors isolating the alleged separatist/Russian BUK.

    At any rate Eliot Higgins/(SBUkraine@War) and Correctiv’s wildly differing versions of the BUK launch site are the same funny business as Higgins lying about Syrian free flight rocket ranges, and finally changing his story to agree with his critic MIT Prof. Ted Postol who says Eliot has no idea what he’s talking about whatsoever. Again, the Aussie 60 Minutes LIED by omission as many Western MSM do by leaving out

    Also the witness Reuters interviewed and put words in his mouth saying he saw BUK recanted, or alternatively said Reuters simply made up a quote and attributed to him. I’d like to see if the reporter actually recorded anything or if the ‘off camera’ interview never happened. Reuters also LIED about the progress of Ukrainian units towards Lugansk in late July or more accurately simply repeated regime propaganda as gospel about their military advances. Reuters, AP, BBC nearly all Western media except for FAZ in Germany are systematically lying about the scale of Ukrainian KIA, Kyiv Post figures of 2,250 KIA are a joke, real number based on armor loss estimates is easily over 10,000 dead Ukrainian servicemen and volunteer battalion members. You cannot trust anything MSM say on BUKs or launch locations particularly when they accept lame ass excuse of the US government that somehow revealing any actual intel will compromise sources and methods or the Dutch criminal investigation. Finally it must be humiliating to Higgins that Dutch investigators reached out to his pro-Donbass rebel nemesis Graham W. Phillips who had been to the crash site but nobody ever called Eliot because the investigators know from the same BND that told Der Spiegel many of the BUK images are SBU fakes of Ukraine’s own BUKs.

  3. Prosto Tak // May 27, 2015 at 10:54 pm // Reply

    But in that southernmost Pervomaiski (in Rus.; in Ukr.: Pervomaiskyi) the woman who speaks about a loud bang and a flying missile then points to the West, across the road that goes from Snizhne — exactly in the direction where UkraineAtWar and Sergei Parkhomenko launch sites are located! “Ze wijst naar het westen, over de weg van Snizjne naar Saoer Mogila” — the only thing is Saur-Mogila (in Rus.; in Ukr.: Savur-Mohyla) is to SSW from that place, not to the West.

  4. Hector Reban // May 28, 2015 at 7:14 am // Reply

    @admin Am I right to assume the third possibility was located in government controlled area?

  5. Hector Reban // May 28, 2015 at 12:02 pm // Reply

    No, but according to some newsreports I assumed the frontline was positioned right through or just south from Stepanovka. I have no maps im my possession from 17 july but I do have one from the 11th (rebels). It shows UA tankdivisions – probably with BUK platforms – just south of this frontline.

  6. Abe de Jong // August 1, 2019 at 11:23 am // Reply

    Hi, why is Chernukhino excluded without motivation?
    The audio message is telling clearly `The cossacks at Chernukhino fired the BUK accidently at a plane, which later seemed to be the MH17.
    In a former audio conversation between a separatistvolunteer and commander Besler `The bird is flying to you, cannot see it, because it is cloudy`..(he was watching at a limited radarscreen of a launching vehicle without sophisticated radar unit vehicle)
    The angle of attack from Chernukhino and the damage at the left front cabinside is quit in line.

    Bey, kind regards.

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