There is an increase in the propaganda by Kremlin on the MH17 investigations in the last couple of weeks. This cannot be a coincidence as the final Dutch Safety Board (DSB) report will be published in the first half of October 2015.
Especially Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov expressed a lot of criticism on the DSB and the JIT.
At August 24 Lavrov added some more criticsm. He told the DSB told the Russian delegates that 7 months ago some possible BUK parts were found. The DSB people did not want to show the parts however. JIT also did not want to tell where they found the parts.
Also Kremlin financed news agencies as Russia Today and Sputnik news are releasing news each and every day trying to discredit the DSB and JIT investigations. Like this article MH17 Tragedy Is Being Probed by ‘Incompetent’ Investigators – US Analyst (Sputniknews)
Russia is a so called Accredited Representative in the Dutch Safety Board team investigating the shot down. Russia has been invited to join the team by the DSB to provide information on request. The quantity of information Russia can provide is however limited.
Besides Air Traffic Control recordings there is not much additional expertise Russia can add. The aircraft and engines were not made in Russia, the reason the VS and UK are part of the investigation team.
So including Russia is the DSB team was likely for political reasons. If Russia was excluded Russia would even have more criticism for being excluded. Adding Russia to the DSB team will not provide them insight in the secret results of the JIT (the criminal investigation) results.
Russia as member is supposed to have full knowledge of the draft final report of this terrible accident. Their responses after they where given the draft final version was that the report has more questions than it provides answers.
The increase of criticism by Russia on the investigation can mean two things:
- they do not like what is concluded in the final DSB report
- they miss information so Russia fears the blame will continue to be on Russia for the time being.
Lets start with some background.
There are two major investigations on MH17.:
- One on the circumstances of the accident. This investigation is conducted by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB). Experts from Russia, Malaysia, Ukraine, UK, VS and Australia are involved as well. The task of any investigation undex Annex 13 of the ICAO is to find the circumstances and cause of the accident. Not to blaim.The final report of the DSB is expected to be made public in the first half of October 2015.
- One of the who is responsible. This is the criminal investigation done by the Joint Investigation Team. Results of this investigation will be made public in the court case.
In this post I focus on the DSB investigation This is because Russia recently expressed a lot of criticism on this investigation.
Especially Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Lavrov had a lot of comments. He expressed those at a conference in Malaysia. For example in this interview.
Some of his statements are listed below
- Russia is the only country that provided the data from its radars for investigation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov notes (Tass)
- The Russian participants are not receiving all information, which has been distributed among some other participants in this group (RbtH)
- The participants in the investigation did not contact the Russian corporation Almaz-Antey, the manufacturer of the Buk surface-to-air missile system, which, as Kiev and some Western countries claim, was used to down the plane (RbtH)
- The investigation is not independent, not comprehensive and not truly international. (Russia Today)
At Monday August 10, 2 additional statements on the DSB report and method of investigation were released by Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokesperson Maria Zakharova
“The fact that ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) does not participate in the investigation of MH17 crash in east Ukraine causes confusion and raises questions in Moscow, she told Rossiya 24 TV channel on Monday” and published by Tass here.
“I am not even talking about plane parts that were left in the field. Our questions on why not all debris were collected, we were told that what had been collected and transported was enough. But this is not right,” she stressed.
What could be in the final report that makes Russia nervous?
The final report will be published in October. Nobody outside the investigation knows the content yet. Russia does know as member of the DSB team.
We know one thing for sure since this pressrelease of the Dutch prosecutor. The DSB final report will mention the possible BUK fragments which were found.
My prediction on the content of the final DSB report is here.
DSB and many other people have said the scope of the investigation is a technical one with goal of establishing the cause of the accident. I use the word ‘accident’ on purpose. The report will not mention who was responsibile for the accident.
However DSB will have to explain the cause. As the Dutch prosecutor made public at August 11 possible parts of a BUK missile were found, it is likely DSB will mention a BUK was used.
Russian media have always been stressing an Ukraine SU-25 shot down MH17. So now the DSB investigation confirms a BUK, the likelyhood Russia was involved in increased.
CNN at July 16 reported the DSB report will mention that a “Russian missile” was used to down MH17. The title suggests the missile was shot by the state Russia however likely the title must be read as ‘ DSB report mentions a Russian made missile downed MH17′
CNN also reports the location where the missile was fired is mentioned in the report.
I highly doubt this. I do not think Russia is nervous about the DSB report because it mentions the location the missile was fired from.
Is Russian criticism on the DSB report reasonable?
The short answer: mainly no however Russia has a single valid point.
A few of the statements are impossible to check on facts. We do not know if the DSB didn’t contact Almaz Antey, the manufacturer of the BUK missile. But it would be not very logical. Dutch prosector had send a juridical request for help to Russia. Russia denied in March 2015 it had received such a request. (source.) At April 8 and 9 2015 a delegation of the Dutch prosector and Duth police went to Moscow to talk about this request. This visit was confirmed by the Dutch minister of Justice and Safety (source)
Is Russia right in saying they do not get all the information other participants in the DSB investigation get? Also very unlikely.
One thing for sure is nonsense. The DSB investigation is done according Annex 13 of the ICAO. It is written in the DSB preliminary report. ICAO never ever made a statement the DSB investigation is not right.
Lets have a look at another statement: investigation is not independent, not comprehensive and not truly international.
Another lie of Kremlin. All participants of an aviation crash are part of the investigation. States which are recommended according Annex 13 of ICAO are state of occurance (Ukraine), state of registry (Malaysia), state of manufacturer (US plane and US for engines). Australia and Russia are invited by DSB because of expertise.
So the investigation is for sure international. When the final report is published we can judge if the report is independant and comprehensive.
What is a valid point?
It is a fact that some debris relevant for the investigation are still in Eastern Ukraine. In June 2015 a filmcrew of Russia Today visted the crashsite. RT interviewed someone who found parts of the roof near the cockpit. Some parts clearly show damage of shrapnel. The parts were brought to the office of the mayor of Petropavlivka. The mayor told RT that she is in contact with the Dutch recovery mission (likely lead by the Dutch Army). However the latest contact was in May 2015 and no date was set to collect newly found debris.
All the details of the found debris are here.
Russia Today then reports that the Dutch Safety Board asked Russia Today for help in recovery of the parts. It is very unlikely DSB contacted RT though. The RT video clearly shows where the parts are located. My guess this RT item is another attempt to discredit the DSB investigation.
DSB said in a response it does not comment on who they contact during the interview.
Russia is for sure speading lies. The statements the DSB investigation is not done by ICAO is a pure lie. If a state tells this, people have to doubt about the credibility of other Russian statements.