Stratfor acquired satellite photo shows what could be BUK on Volvo+lowloader on July 17

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A satellite photo taken at July 17 2014 shows what could be the Volvo truck with lowloader carrying a BUK TELAR system heading east/northeast away from Donetsk. The location of the BUK plus truck shown on the satellite photo is here. The road is called Avtotransportna Street.

The satellite photo was acquired by Stratfor. The motive to acquire the satellite photo was the discovery of the May 12 video.

The satellite photo could confirm the May 12 discovered dashcam video was made at July 17. The dashcam clearly shows a convoy of the BUK escorted by several cars.

The satellite photo shows the BUK on the same road as the dashcam video. The truck only travelled a few hundred meters  since it was spotted on the dashcam.

Lack of escort vehicles in satellite photo?

The satellite photo does not clearly show the other cars part of the convoy (Toyota RAV4, an unknown type, a VW Transporter and a UAZ-469 jeep). These cars were seen in the dashcam video.

The two vehicles seen driving behind the Volvo *could* be the Jeep and the VW Transporter.

It is impossible these cars all of a sudden disappeared between the time the dashcam was made and less then a minute later when the satellite photo was made.

First noticed by Bellingcat

Daniel , part of the Bellingcat team, was one of the first if not the first who mentioned the Stratfor article on Twitter.

Likely the satellite photo was made by the Geoeye-1 satellite operated by Digital Globe. At 11:08 the satellite has a view on Eastern Ukraine. The DigitalGlobe sign is shown in the Stratfor article.

An interesting piece of the Stratfor article is shown below. It suggests the BUK was transported on July 15 from Russian border to Donetsk. Earlier Ukraine authorities stated the BUK passed the Russia/Ukraine border in the night of July 16/July 17.

Combined, the evidence appears to show the Buk system moving from the Russian border toward Donetsk on July 15, 2014, and then moving back to the east on the afternoon of July 17, 2014, just hours before Flight MH17 was shot down.


The photo below shows the Google Earth picture as dated July 30, 2014 of the same area.

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49 Comments on Stratfor acquired satellite photo shows what could be BUK on Volvo+lowloader on July 17

  1. I don’t know if this is the Volvo and which load it is carrying, but in this picture it seems not be part of a convoy.

    • sotilaspassi // May 13, 2016 at 8:32 pm // Reply

      @admin Is there any way to block this “H.L.” troll idiot?

      • Yes, but I see no reason for a block. Do you see the other cars part of the convoy on the satellite photo?

        • sotilaspassi // May 15, 2016 at 5:52 pm // Reply

          I’ve had high blood pressure after getting 20+ trolls out of my view elsewhere. (they said they were having PARTY on MH17)

          So sorry for strong comment.

          About the convoy.
          Initially I thought Volvo had stopped and two persons are in front of the “tractor”. But it is more likely that some cars ahead accelerated after roundabout and drove further to check the route.
          UAZ is seen behind BUK. Some of the cars can be in one of the large shadows but some are missing/outside the cropped image.

          The trailer definitely has the known BUK loaded on it, camo netting makes the top of the missiles look flat, just like intended.

          To my understanding Stratfor will show larger image to paid subscribers. And BC seems to be getting more SAT images from the route.

      • Sorry, but how is it possible you can see a Buk here, sotilaspassi?

        Yesterday I predicted the image would be of low resolution so the load on the low-loader wouldn’t be visible. This proved to be right.

        I guess time of satellite image and video match so close as to ascertain it really is the same combination of truck with lowloader and some load, because the only marker we have to validate, besides timing, is a white cabin here.

        • sotilaspassi // May 25, 2016 at 5:06 am // Reply

          Because I looked at it. Match with camo netted BUK+missiles in identical position on lowloader vs pm photo+recent video. Also shadow seems to match.

  2. You should check the length of the shadow video and photography

  3. I mean .Buk shadow.

  4. I’ve zoomed in on the image and find it hard to make out the shape of a BUK. Resolution is not very high but the top of the rear part looks too flat and even for four missiles covered in netting, plus radar firedome.

  5. Billy Bob // May 13, 2016 at 9:01 pm // Reply

    why have stratfor published such a ridiculously small poor quality photo for such a scoop?

  6. Compare lenght of shadow of video and photo pls.

    • The sat was 45.43° off nadir. As the image is turned by stratfor the sat is mostly looking from bottom to top (east-west), but some of the offset is also from the right to the left (north-south). The bottom-top offset can be noticed by the tree tops appearing way west (topside) of their shadows. The right to left offset can be noticed for example by the roof of the building immediately to the left of that volvo thing. The right part appears larger than the left, because we are looking more perpendicular on the right part of the roof.

      So it is okay that the shadow of the TELAR is visible closer to the bottom of the image than the TELAR itself. It’s the same as for the trees.

      It is very strange that the shadow of the TELAR does not reach the middle of the right lane (as seen in the stratfor image). In the video that shadow almost reaches the middle of the opposite lane. Due to the right-left off-nadir the top of the TELAR should be visible to left of the centre strip, but it isn’t, so the volvo must be occupying part of the opposite lane, which would make its shadow reach even further into the right lane.

      The missing convoy has been mentioned already, it’s also strange that it took two years for this photo to surface.

      Not sure of it yet, but it remembers me of the fake sat image of the Mig29 firing a missile at MH17. Looking forward to some more explanation by stratfor of how exactly they acquired this image.

      • The shadow is making by sun ,not shoting position.I didn’t mean about High only about Lenght and shape.(video and picture)

        • What I wanted to say is that the shooting position changes where we perceive the higher objects to be. In this image higher objects are perceived further to left than they really are. It can also be noticed on the vehicle that just has passed the Volvo in the opposite direction. It appears to touch the centre strip, but that’s just the appearance due to the parallax. So the Volvo actually must be further to the right than it appears, so yes I agree, its shadow seems far too short.

          • Ole, what do you think of the Buk width? Its 1 meter more wide (~3,5 m) than the low-loader (~2.5 m), so that the lowloader would need side-extensions to carry it. Can’t see this.

            And what do you think about the allegedly accompanying vehicles behind the truck? One seems to drive at the other side of the road, one in the middle. This could not be caused by off-nadir deformation, I presume?

      • > it’s also strange that it took two years for this photo to surface.

        Admin and other members of this community wrote on this website many times: “Why are there no satellite pictures of the Buk on 17 July? It is strange that there are no sat pics of the Buk on 17 July.”

        In response, a two-leg operation: at first, a new video with the Buk; then, using the video as a prompt of where to look for the Buk, a sat pic.

  7. Sorry, but what are the chances that the DG satellite just happens to take an oblique picture at the same time this new dashcam video is being made.

    I too would like to know where the rest of he cars on that road are. The video shows two cars ahewad and four trailing.

  8. According to the US embassy in Kiev the separatists had already a Buk on the 14th of July: “Intercepts of separatist communications posted on YouTube by the Ukrainian government indicate the separatists were in possession of a SA-11 system as early as Monday July 14th. In the intercepts, the separatists made repeated references to having and repositioning Buk (SA-11) systems” (Official statement July 2014) “Talks between terrorists, July 14, 2014, 19:12:
    “Oleh” – Oleh Bugrov Valeriovych, army chief of staff of self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, deputy minister of defense of “LNR”.
    “Oreon” – a citizen of the Russian Federation, officer of Main Intelligence Directorate (to be identified).
    Oleh: – Worked out a plane near Stanitsa. I missed it.
    Oreon: – Excellent, they are avenging for planes today, but we have a couple of days more. We already have ‘Buk’, we ‘ll be shooting them to hell.” A rather strange conversation though.
    If true, this would mean the Buk was in the hands of LNR not DNR. At that time those two weren’t cooperating very well.
    Nayda on the 19th of July said the first information on a Buk trespassing the Ukrainian border was on the 14th of July, but it could not be confirmed.

  9. To clarify the procedure of Digital Globe satellite image acquisition: Somebody orders a data take, specifying central coordinates and time frame. Donetsk was an interesting target at this time, so one can assume that U.S. authorities did order the data take. Oblique viewing angles of 30 degrees or more are usually accepted, especially for an interesting target. After delivering the data to the customer the scene goes to the DG catalogue and is available for commercial use. It strikes me that no one else but Bellingcat a year later and obviously Stratford ordered the data to look for hints regarding MH17. Possibly Ukrainian authorities got this data from the U.S. in some kind of intelligence support.

  10. Charles Wood // May 13, 2016 at 11:00 pm // Reply

    Time for someone to drive the same stretch of road with an HD camera on the roof – with runs looking forward, backwards, left and right all done about 11-12am. Poor-man’s streetview.

    Questions of shadows and tree heights etc could be quickly answered.

  11. Liane Theuer // May 14, 2016 at 4:40 pm // Reply

    This is like a Déjà-vu …

    Again :
    1. A video from an unknown source
    2. No time stamp nor date
    3. Blurred enough to see no details
    4. First account with only this video

    Then Stratfor jumped in and presented the same DigitalGlobe image that is in posession of Bellingcat since a year.
    Good old Eliot was not able to detect the BUK in his DigitalGlobe image ?!

    What proof do we have that the Stratfor DigitalGlobe image is really dated July 17 ?
    If true, Bellingcat must be able to provide the same picture section.

    Stratfor wrote : “AllSource Analysis — Stratfor’s satellite imagery partner — was able to locate images …“ „The images were taken approximately five hours before Flight MH17 was shot down …“

    Why do they use the plural „images“, but provide only one image ?
    Why do they write „approximately“ when all satellite imagery have a known time ?

    Stratfor wrote : “Combined, the evidence appears to show the Buk system moving from the Russian border toward Donetsk on July 15, 2014…“

    What proof exists for this ? Stratfor calls no sources.

    Stratfor CEO George Friedman states: “If this is a source you suspect may have value, you have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control to the point where he would reveal his sourcing and be tasked.”

    Another article about Stratfor :

    • Liane, you could simply ask them. Or you can buy your own images. To me Stratfor is trustworthy enough, but I am also interested in the evidence on July 15th. There was an offensive of the Ukrainian army on the 15th and 16th of July East of Luhansk towards Krasnodon.

  12. Sorry, perhaps I misunderstood something. I don’t understand the following in Stratfor’s article: “Combined, the evidence appears to show the Buk system moving from the Russian border toward Donetsk on July 15, 2014…” The convoy in the video of July 15 had no Buk in it. What does Stratfor mean?

    • Liane Theuer // May 14, 2016 at 5:51 pm // Reply

      — The convoy in the video of July 15 had no Buk in it. What does Stratfor mean?

      abcd, I think Stratfor was briefed by Bellingcat and they got the facts wrong.

  13. Billy Bob // May 14, 2016 at 7:19 pm // Reply

    I agree, Stratfor has just regurgitated some Bellingcrap in the article.

  14. Billy Bob // May 14, 2016 at 7:21 pm // Reply

    Hector wrote:
    “And what do you think about the allegedly accompanying vehicles behind the truck? One seems to drive at the other side of the road, one in the middle. This could not be caused by off-nadir deformation, I presume?”

    To me they are just vehicles going the other way, nothing to do with the Buk.

  15. Billy Bob // May 14, 2016 at 7:23 pm // Reply

    Alleged Buk I should say. I dont think its in any way been established that this truck has a Buk on it.

  16. Someone at superimposed a Buk-on-trailer model with the space image. The shadow cast by missiles looks to be too far forward.
    Now, this issue may have to do with some unobvious complications related to a sloped satellite position wrt to the imaged area while photograph is being taken. At first glance I cannot find a plausible explanation via this effect. The satellite looks like hanging somewhat forward of the truck, judging by the fences nearby. But this cannot lead to a too big misplacement of the truck cabin used for the alignment of the model. The shadow is at the ground level, so does correspond to its true location.
    The Sun is shining from the right of the truck, even slightly from forward. Which should lead to the missile shadow moved even slightly back wrt truck while comparing, because the model is lit exactly from the right.
    The person also tried to match the model length. It is possible that what he thinks being a cabin is not, and the cabin is actually ahead. But then we’ll have problems matching the back. Anyway, one has to check carefully the reported issue. What do you, knowledgeable people, think?

  17. The details of Stratfor’s image match the metadata of DigitalGlobe’s image of 11:08 on 17.07 very closely.

    The Stratfor picture looks directly down the road which has a heading of almost exactly 60° according to Google Earth (I guess that the road was designed to be at that angle). The only apparent discrepancy in the direction is that the roofs of the houses near the road do not look symmetrical. But that’s explained by the fact that they are not aligned exactly parallel to the road. Google Earth measures them at an angle of about 67°, or seven degrees to the road.

    The azimuth of the DigitalGlobe metadata is 239°, or 239 – 180 = 59° if looked at in the opposite direction. That’s a tiny difference of one degree with the road that Stratfor shows. The sample image from DigitalGlobe might not look like it is facing in that direction but that’s probably an optical illusion caused by its parallelogram shape.

    The metadata’s off-nadir angle of 44° also looks close to the angle that the Stratfor image is looking down from.

    The question now is whether Bellingcat will purchase that section of the DigitalGlobe image and whether it shows the scene from Stratfor in higher resoution.

    • Another question I might add to yours, Brendan:

      Why is Google Earth itself not publishing imagery of the 17th from the Donetsk/Makeevka area?

      From the Luhansk area I see they did.

      • Could be
        a) not in view on that revolution around the planet
        b) clouds (when were Luhansk images taken)
        c) money

        • We know the imagery exists ot the area, right? We know they are DG customers too.

          And we know they flooded GE with extra imagery last month, also from the 17th.

          The Luhansk area contains 17.7 imagery of airbase A-0194 with two TEls and a TELAR standing, waiting for transport in the night at 2 and 4 AM.

          Money was obviously no concern for all those other parts.

          Hopefully they will publish the Donetsk/Makeevka area 17 july stuff later on.

          • >The Luhansk area contains 17.7 imagery of airbase A-0194

            I think I have seen only 16.7 image.
            Do you have link to 17.7 image?

            >Money was obviously no concern for all those other parts.

            No one was willing to pay for those images? Capitalism is like that. Google publish images after they consider they do not contain value?

          • What are you suggesting, sotilaspassi? Digital Globe wants to drain Bellingcat first before they free up the imagery to Google Earth? 🙂

            About the 17.7 imagery of Luhansk/Metallist airforce base A-0194 I suggest you look for yourself. Its open source, you know 😉

          • BTW, also of the Zaroshchenskoye area there are financial problems to get GE show imagery.

            But in this case I do have 16.7 for you:


  18. It’s been more than two weeks since the release of both the dashcam video and the Stratfor satellite photo, both of which are supposed to show the same BUK being transported on the same road on 17 July. Bellingcat have said nothing since then about purchasing that part of the satellite image.

    Since there’s been no more news, it seems that the Stratford image was the best image that Digitalglobe could provide and is the same as what Bellingcat was looking for. It’s not surprising that the resolution isn’t good enough to show clearly what’s on the trailer, if you look at another BUK in another part of the same satellite image, which Bellingcat did purchase last year. That’s the one at a Ukrainian military base that was allegedly photographed at the same time.

    The only reason that that object can be recognised as a BUK is that it’s on its own on a bright surface, with its launcher rotated on its base. It would be much more difficult to make out a BUK covered in netting on a trailer on a dark road surface. It’s not possible to figure out whether or not that object is a BUK, because the image resolution isn’t high enough.

  19. That other object in the photo that you think might possibly be a VW Transporter looks to me more like a leafy branch sticking out from the tree. It looks green and doesn’t have the shape of any kind of vehicle.

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