MH17 1000 days later. How little do we know!

Today, April 12 2017 it has been exactly 1000 days ago a Boeing 777 of Malaysia Airlines with 298 people on board was shot down by a surface to air missile launched by a Russian Federation supplied BUK TELAR system from an area controlled by Moscow supported separatists.

In those 1000 days a lot has happened, but the world did not get  answers to many questions.

This post provides a summary of what we know and what we still do not know.

TL;DR

298 innocent people were killed and likely we will never know why and by whom, let alone the culprists will get their punishment.
After 1000 days it is for sure Russia brought in a BUK TELAR which shot down MH17. However this is not the complete story. Both Russia and Ukraine are not reliable. MH17 is part of geopolitical interests by large states. the Netherlands seems to be a too small country to be able to find the complete truth. Dutch government is not acting as it is willing to reveal all the details.

The motive 

After 1000 days the motive why a passenger aircraft was shot down is still not known. At least not to the public. Joint Investigation Team (JIT) at the September 2016 pressconference stated the motive is still under investigation. As separatists were being attacked in previous weeks by Ukraine fighter aircraft and helicopters, the reason to request a BUK anti aircraft weapon makes sense. Tapped telephone conversations indicate such need.

An error by the BUK crew seems the most likely cause of the crew. Probably the BUK TELAR did not have a radar feed from an advanced radar system positioned in Russia as it has in normal battery operations. Likely the BUK TELAR crew switched on the built-in radar at the latest possible moment so it would not be detected by Ukraine aircraft. The crew likely was convinced the target was a military aircraft.

The BUK crew had very limited information on the target. This post explains why.

Finland was requested by Dutch Public Prosecutor to provide information on the BUK. Early 2017 Finland handed over all information and agreed the information could be used by JIT.

The suspects
Till today names of people involved in transport of the BUK and the names of people who pressed the button which launched the button are not made known. Most likely the operators of the BUK were Russian army people.

Geopolitics
MH17 is clearly part of an enormous complex geopolitical game. Ukraine needs to be under the influence of EU and NATO. Ukraine needs to have a friendly image for the Western public. The Netherlands likely decided for political reasons not to start a court case against Russia. Too afraid for economical punishment by Putin.

Mind not a single Western leader so far held Russia responsible for the downing of MH17.

Sanctions against Russia officialy are because the annexation of Crimea. Although the shot down seems to have an impact on sanctions as described here.

The end is that for me a court case filed by either the Dutch government or JIT is very unlikely. JIT can only prosecute individuals, not states. Names of suspects will not be found out. Evidence has been tampered with.

In February 2016 I wrote this blog stating there will not be a court case the next ten years.

The shot down of MH17 
In the days and weeks before MH17 was shot down, severall helicopers, figherjets and transport aircraft of the Ukraine air force were shot down by separatists using shoulder launched MANPADS missiles. Despite this and the fact that Ukraine Air Force was actively attacking separatists from the air, Ukraine Air Traffic control did not close the airspace, not did it inform airlines about the war situation using NOTAMS. Instead Ukraine closed the airspace up to a level which was used by commercial airlines.

Separatists on social media bragged about having stolen a BUK TELAR which belonged to the Ukraine army. United States mentioned that Russia positioned anti aircraft systems close to the Ukraine border.

At July 17 2017 on social media separatists stated they shot down an aircraft. The press officer of the separatists called a French photographer and told him to come to the area as they shot down a military aircraft.

The BUK was spotted parked next to the HQ of the separatists in Torez. That seems more than just a coincidence.

At July 23 2014 Reuters published an interview with Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion He  acknowledged for the first time since the airliner was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday that the rebels did possess the BUK missile system and said it could have been sent back subsequently to remove proof of its presence.

Ukraine fighter jets
Many eyewitness told they saw one of multiple Ukraine fighter aircraft at the moment MH17 was shot down. Ukraine authorities states they air force did not fly because of the bad weather. Photos taken just after the crash show high clouds with some blue patches. This does not look to be bad weather at all.

DSB and JIT told there were no aircraft close to MH17 capable of downing MH17. DSB and JIT did not state there were no aircraft at all flying close to MH17 which could have an effect on the launch of the missile. DSB did not speak to eyewitness on the ground.

Joseph Resch
Resch is a German private detective. He told press that he knew what has happened to MH17. His Swiss safe was opened by the Dutch prosecutor. His house searched by German police. I made a couple of blogposts and Dutch newspaper Telegraaf reported about Resch.
Will the public ever know what Resch knows?

No primary radar coverage by Ukraine air traffic control
A lot has been written in press and Dutch parliament about missing radar recordings. Ukraine stated to DSB it did not have primary radar recordings available. Primary radar is essential to investigate if military aircraft or a missile was near MH17. Ukraine initially stated all radar stations were in maintenance. Later, when experts told this was unlikely, and after pressure by Dutch government . The  Ukraine ambassador to the Netherlands at February 3 2016 stated that one of the radar stations in the area located near Artyomovsk had been taken out of action by using violance at June 16 2014 by masked men.

Who these man were and why they destoyed the radar is till today unknown.

Recovery of wreckage
The  recovery of the bodies was completed at July 21 2014 when a train with the bodies left Torez heading for Ukraine controlled area. Soon after Ukraine armed forces started an offensive towards the crash site. Dutch government in recently released internal documents stated that “it was difficult to make agreements with Kiev as Kiev did not respect agreements made with the Dutch. The military actions made recovery impossible and delayed recovery of wreckage for months.

Questions by Dutch parliament to the government on how many times the Dutch requested OSCE to check the crashsite for safety were not clearly answered.

The investigation on cause of crash by Dutch Safety Board (DSB).
DSB concluded in its final report that MH17 was shot down by a 9M38 series missile launched from a location south of Snizhne in separatists controlled area.

The investigation on the culprits by Joint Investigation Team (JIT)
JIT is a cooperation by the police and prosecution service of The Netherlands, Ukraine, Malaysia, Australia and Belgium. Malaysia joined JIT a couple of months later for reasons not made public. One of the reasons could be the death penalty still effective in Malaysia.  Another reason could be Ukraine did not trust Malaysia, being an ally of Russia. Also the fact that PM Razak of Malaysia himself negotiated with separatists leaders could have made Kiev very unhappy as this meant Malaysia more or less acknowledged the Donetsk People Reblic. This blog has the details on how Malaysia obtained the black boxes.

A summary of the latest JIT press conference is here.

Kremlin lies 
Kremlin lied about many topics related to MH17. They faked satellite images, lied about an aircraft seen near MH17, told they did not have radar images and much more. An overview of many lies here.

Role of Ukraine 

Despite many claims by Kremlin trolls, there is not a single piece of evidence indicating an Ukraine BUK shot down MH17.
However Ukraine did a fair bot of lying on various topics. For example former head of secret service SBU stated that MH17 was a mistake. Russian forces intended to shot down an Aeroflot aircraft as a false flag which would provide Russia reason to invade Eastern Ukraine. This seems a very unlikely scenario.

Pro Kremlin trolls keep on suggesting that Ukraine shot down MH17. A couple of photos of Ukraine BUKS would be the proof for that. However all photos were geolocates to be far from the ATO zone and out of reach for a missile. The story of the Chaplain BUK photos was debunked recently here.

Bellingcat gelocated the location of the BUK systems seen in a video aired on  July 16, 2014. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense’s television network aired a program about the military situation in Ukraine with the caption “Servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces patrol the area of the ATO zone.” In a segment of this video, two Buk missile launchers, a Buk Snow Drift Radar, and a ST-68U Tin Shield Radar are shown.

Role of main stream media 
Media played an important role. Russian government controlled media came up with all kind of nonsense stories. First it was a SU25 which shot down MH17. There were fake satellite photos.
The Dutch media hardly did any investigative reporting. Dutch largest news station NOS made many factual incorrect errors in the reporting on MH17. This blogpost has an overview.

The best journalist who covered MH17 is RTL Nieuws Jeroen Akkermans. He went to the crash site several times and made many photos of the wreckage.

Role of citizen journalism
Bellingcat, a collective of citizen journalists lead by Eliot Higgins, did a lot of research on MH17. They found out the BUK TELAR which was seen on photos and video’s came from Russia. Bellingcat showed Russia lied a lot.

Limited publicly known evidence
The public has very little evidence available to understand what exactly happened. Photos and videos of the BUK enroute to the launch location were all from vague sources. Quality of videos was deliberately made poor. For what reason?

At the JIT press conference in September 2016 a second previously unknown photo of a smoke plume was presented. This photo was likely a screenshot of a video. The video was made by a camera attached to a tripod in an apartment belonging to someone supporting Kiev. Why this photo was not made public immediately after the disaster raises questions. Why was the area south of Snizhne observered by someone with a camera on tripod?

Keeping documents secret by Dutch government
Dutch government has not proven to be very willing to make sure all answers are given. Dutch government refuses to release minutes of meetings which were attended by ministers. Last week Ministry of Security and Justice did an appeal to a court ruling to make public documents. The court case at the Raad van State can take over a year before the judge will announce the verdict.
I collected 84 indications showing the Dutch government has something to hide.

Court cases
Severall next of kin started court cases against various parties like Ukraine and Malaysia Airlines. This post has an overview.

However after 1000 days the Public Prosecution Services of all countries involved in JIT did not make public under which law the prosecution will be done. There are two options available. Either under international law or under Dutch law. Russia vetoed a tribunal by United Nations.

JIT did not announce names of suspects despite severall ministers of JIT countries making claims names of victims would be announced soon. Australia Foreign Minister Julie Bishop did such a statement.

Ukraine filed a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague against Russian Federation. This blogpost has the details.

 

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2 Comments on MH17 1000 days later. How little do we know!

  1. “Separatists on social media bragged about having stolen a BUK TELAR which belonged to the Ukraine army” – Ukrainian government knew that that was a lie.

    • I agree, the Malaysian plane that went down a few weeks before meant they wanted answers. Ukrainian forums days before were asking people on social media to get ready. The news unfolded far to quick to be a coincidence. To many people in countries in and around Ukrainian coup knew something so ten years is understandable. When you Dutch went in I was impressed with your objective reporting. Before hand there was so much pressure and hype on you guys from news anchors as far as Australia. Without declaring Marshall Law the regions were in utter chaos.

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