MH17 three years later: what do we know

Frequently in the last three years I posted an overview of facts and opinions on MH17 in postings titled “what do we know?

Below an overview of postings.

13 months later. What happened to flight MH17?

MH17 19 months later: what do we know

MH17: what we know 22 months later

MH17: what we know 2 years later

MH17: what we know 27 months later

MH17 1000 days later. How little do we know!

At July 17, 2017 it is exactly 3 years ago MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile. 298 innocent people were killed.

Three years later little is known to the public. In short the facts

  1. MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile launched from an area controlled by separatists
  2. The weapon was a BUK TELAR surface to air missile launcher which was brought in from Russia and went back to Russia, missing one missile
  3. Joint Investigation Team stated they do not have names of suspects yet nor a motive
  4. Bellingcat was able to find out the BUK had a registration number 332. It was based at a base in Kursk.
  5. DSB concluded Ukraine should have closed its airspace
  6. Russia vetoed an United Nations tribunal
  7. The suspects will be prosecuted in a Dutch court under Dutch law.

The above is a summary. Lets go into more details.

The cause of the downing

  1. Dutch Safefy Board (DSB) concluded MH17 was shot down by a Russian made BUK 9M38 series (either 9M38 or 9M38M1) missile launched by a BUK TELAR.
  2. DSB also concluded Ukraine should have closed its airspace as there were shot downs before and an active war going on.
  3. Joint Investigation Team, despite a promise to state the exact type of weapon, did not provide more information on the type of missile used than DSB did. JIT copied the DSB conclusion: it was a 9M38 series missile.
  4. Shot down by a different weapon is nonsense for many reasons. Even Russia officially stated in a pressconference there was no other aircraft near MH17 capable of downing MH17
  5. Multiple people saw a missile flying, including separatists.
  6. Photos made from two locations show a smoke plume likely caused by the BUK missile after launch.

The weapon

  1. JIT concluded the BUK TELAR was brought in from Russia and went back to Russia
  2. Bellingcat published many reports about the BUK. It concluded the Buk with serial 332 came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade (military unit 32406) in Kursk.
  3. Based on photos and video’s posted on social media, the route of the BUK from Donetsk to Snizhne could be reconstructed.

The investigation

  1. The scope of the Joint Investigation Team is to do a criminal investigation into the downing of MH17. JIT can prosecute individuals but not states.
  2. Out of scope for JIT is why the airspace over Ukraine was not closed despite a war situation, primary radar being unavailable.
  3. The  content of JIT agreement has not been made public. Even Dutch parliament is not aware of the content
  4. The JIT agreements ends in beginning 2018.

The photos and video’s

  1. Many blogs have been written about the presented photos and video’s showing the BUK. From the first evidence showing the BUK parked in Donetsk to the last video showing the BUK missing a missile in Luhansk.
  2. Nobody has been able to prove these were fake.
  3. Since the JIT press conference in September 2016 and a NOS Nieuwsuur reconstruction aired in July 2017 we know a bit more about how the famous Paris Match photos were actually made. Bellingcat made an overview about the new evidence presented by JIT in September 2016.
    We know know that:
    -someone was driving a car in Donetsk and made a video of the BUK parked near a busy road
    -the driver went to the Ramada hotel situated about 4 km from the location where the BUK was parked. He showed the recording to a freelance French photographer.
    -At July 25, 8 days after the video recording was made, a still of the video was published by French magazine Paris Match. PM write the photos were made in Snizhne, which was incorrect. It is not known who handed over the stills to PM.
    -Later German magazine Der Spiegel publish a previously unknown still of the parked BUK.
  4. The video showing a BUK TELAR on a lowloader pulled by a white Volvo was made from a safehouse by an Ukraine police officer working for Ukraine secret service. This was confirmed by Anton Gerasjenko, advisor of minister of Internal Affairs.
  5. NOS Nieuwsuur stated SBU actively monitored the road between Donetsk and Snizhne. It also monitored other supply routes.

Evidence

  1. There has been a lot of discussion on satellite images. United States immediately after the shot down stated the event was seen on radar and satellite. However evidence was never made public. In June 2017 Dutch government stated US had handed over all requested evidence to the Dutch
  2. Finland cooperated in analysis of the BUK system
  3. Ukraine stated all radar systems were in maintenance mode. After a while Ukraine confirmed one of the radarstations was destroyed at June 16, 2014. DSB did not report this in the final report.
  4. Russia did not hand over raw primary radar recording initially to DSB stating these were deleted. However just two days before JIT pressconference at September 2016 Russia all of a sudden in a press conference showed primary radar images. Russia stated there is no missile launched from south of Snizhne to be seen on radar. A missile launched from a location more towards the West could possibly not be detected to technical limitations of the radar.
  5. We can conclude the radar images handed over to JIT in October 2016 do not show a missile

The motive

  1. Three years later the motive is still not known! JIT told the next of kin in June 2017 the motive is still being investigated.
  2. An error seems by far the most likely cause of the shot down. The crew in the BUK had very little information about the target. We assume they did not use cell phones with Flightradar 24 installed on it. So the crew just had the information displayed on the instruments, the information provided by the spotter who made a phone call to a separatists commander (a bird to coming towards you) and possibly the information provided by the separatists to the crew in the separatists HQ a few hours before the fatal shot down. Ths blogpost describes the BUK was parked in Karapetiana Street in Snizhne. This is the location of the headquarters of the separatists in Snizhne.

The prosecution

  1. 5 countries made an agreement and formed a Joint Investigation Team based on Europol standards. The Netherlands have the leading role. Much of the forensic evidence is delivered by Ukraine.
  2. Ukriane still did not hand over all the evidence it collected because of legal issues
  3. Russia vetoed a proposal to have an international tribunal on MH17
  4. The Netherlands is interviewing witness in the Netherlands without the presence of Ukraine police officers
  5. At July 5 2017 it was made known by the Dutch government the suspects are prosecuted by a Dutch lawyer under Dutch law in a courthouse located in the Netherlands.
  6. Prosecution will take years. Ukraine and Russia will not extradite their citizens.

Role of Dutch government

  1. Dutch government is actively preventing the release of information. It concerns information about talks with Ukraine and meetings with Dutch ministers. Two Freedom of Information requests by Dutch press are being  extended all the time so Dutch government is not forced to make the information public.
  2. Some information however was made public by Dutch government after being forced by the Dutch press. One of the facts released was that Dutch officials stated Ukraine did not respect agreements made about a cease fire in the area of the crashsite.

Court cases by individuals

  1. Next of kin filed two cases at ECHR: one case by German next of kin against Ukraine. Another one by Australian next of kin against Russia
  2. No applications for a court case by Dutch next of kin are known.

The press coverage

  1. Seeing the huge impact, the three years of little information the main stream media did little investigation into what exactly happened. Press did investigation into the part of Russia and the separatists. However the role of Ukraine (not closing airspace, monitoring separatists movements, distribution of photos and video’s on social meda, cooperation with Dutch police, cooperation with Dutch government) has had very little attention. Many questions remain unanswered. 

Open source investigation

  1. Open source investigation collective Bellingcat did a lot of research into MH17. Especially on the route of the BUK from its base in Kursk, Russia to the border. As well as the route of the BUK from Donetsk to Snizhne.
  2. Many others spent a lot of  hours into investigation. Me, Arnold Greidanus, Max van der Werff, Ukraineatwar, Informnapalm, users at Smolensk and MH17.webtalk.ru forums.

Russian propaganda

  1. An incredible number of lies were spread by Kremlin and Kremlin controlled media.

8 Comments on MH17 three years later: what do we know

  1. “Even Russia officially stated in a pressconference there was no other aircraft near MH17 capable of downing MH17”

    In my opinion, this is not entirely true. In September , the speech about the absence of extraneous objects near the Boeing goes three times
    1 – in the interval 13:04:26 -13: 07: 20
    in original https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8SHZriRbi8 ,the time of the video is 7:10
    “Был обнаружен вторичным… время 13:04:26 а затем первичным радиолокатором, дальность 362 км, время 13 часов, 7 минут и почти 20 секунд. Следует особо обратить внимание, что проигрывая файл от момента обнаружения и до текущего времени (13:07:20) ни каких сторонних воздушних объектов поблизости от малазийского самолета радиолокатор не фиксировал. Исключение составляют 2 гражданских лайнера….”
    2 – с 13:07:20 по 13:20:01,87
    время видео 8:50
    “Проигрывая файл далее, до момента разрушения самолета наблюдаем отсутствие сторонних объектов вблизи малайзийского самолета. Сейчас программа остановлена на последнем обзоре, когда самолет наблюдается не разрушенным. (13:20:01,87)”
    3 – At the time of the defeat, 13:20:03 according to DSB
      Video time 11:36
    “тщательный анализ записанной информации показывает что вблизи малайзийского самолета Усть-донецкий радиолокатор не наблюдал ни каких сторонних объектов, которые могли бы стать причиной его разрушения.”

    In July 14 it is said about the detection of the aircraft at 13:21:35, when according to the DSB version the Boeing has already fallen.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZwFdfeKUBw time 20:33, with translation
    “… в 17 часов 21 минуту 35 секунд в месте разрушения Боинга появляется новая отметка о воздушном объекте.
    …..
    Ранее обнаружение данного воздушного объекта не представлялось возможным, так как контроль воздушной обстановки осуществляется радиолокационными средствами дежурного режима с возможностями по обнаружению на данной дальности на высоте полета более 5000 метров.
    Обнаружение стало возможным при наборе высоты.”

    I do not see any contradictions, two different briefings are about two different time intervals, from 13:21:35 in the first and up to the moment of defeat at 13:20: 03 in the second.

  2. > MH17 was shot down…
    People, what’s wrong with you?
    Can you show the penetration of the skin at speeds of 2 km per second?
    Three years of empty talk.

    • Yeah, I have come round to your way of thinking.

      How do you think the Buk warhead fragments were introduced? Packed into a cockpit bomb or do you think the JIT is completely compromised?

      • > …do you think the JIT is completely compromised?
        I don’t want to blame unhappy Dutch for anything.
        But I did not see any trace of a high-speed impact on the skin of a Boeing 777 by Jeroen Akkermans, a non-Kremlin photographer. He pointed his finger at all the holes practically.
        So I can’t say that MH17 was struck by something mega-fast from the outside at FL330.
        There are doubts about the bomb at MH17 and MH370 – these are links of one chain.

  3. @Admin, I understood correctly from your interview http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/whose-buk-dutch-researchers-discuss-mh17/ri20287,

    “But I also do no not rule out the possibility that Almaz-Antey has deliberately put some butterfly shapes in this plane using some kind of device.”

    that you do not exclude forgery from Almaz-Antey, and that Holes in the form of a “butterfly” on the skin of the IL-86 could be left not by the fragments after the explosion, but intentionally in a different way?

  4. An interesting “inaccuracy” on a Deutsch Welle map re Pervomaiske

    http://www.dw.com/en/protesters-call-on-russia-to-cooperate-with-probe-into-downing-of-flight-mh17/a-39711910

    Not a big deal because it was technically possible to down MH17 from the actual location. Still, it does point to an underlying fragility of the narrative that is and was always going to be politically determined

    Here is my solution to the current impasse:

    A trial in absentia – so the Ukrainian evidence isn’t exposed to cross-examination – with an emphasis that the downing was not intentional.

    Russia imposes a modest increase for natural gas on Ukraine and Ukraine undertakes to pay its gas debt (30 billion ++, I understand) in timely manner

    The EU, US and America transfers funds to Ukraine under the pretext of EU integration, military aid and economic development etc.

    Russia pays compensation around $2-4 million per head on a timetable aligned with Ukraine’s pay down of their gas debt.

    Finally, we institute a program of ethics training for NATO, Pentagon, CIA and all the other usual suspects.

    Everybody wins in this scenario:

    1. We create a “truth” which leaves no red faces and no recriminations

    2. Russia doesn’t realistically expect Ukrainians to pay their debt, so they should be happy to agree to a kickback payment to MH17 victims

    3. Ukraine doesn’t lose out as they eliminate a debt and its funds are made good by Western donors

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