True or fake: The Luhansk video showing BUK missing 1 missile transported towards Russia

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

There are quite a few videos and photos published on Internet showing a BUK TELAR system driving around in East Ukraine. These videos and photos support the theory a Russian supplied BUK TELAR vehicle was used to down MH17.

Some people have doubts about the authenticity of those photos and videos. Lets try to judge the authenticity of  the video showing a BUK TELAR on a lowloader missing one BUK missile heading towards the Russian border  and filmed in Luhansk.

This post will be part of a series on blogposts discussing the prove of a BUK missile used. Other future blogposts will discuss:

  • The Paris Match photos (or shots of a video)
  • The Strelkov social media accounts
  • The smoke plume

The video was released by Ukrainian Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov  on 18th July on his Facebook page. He claims the  truck was filmed by a police surveillance team at 04:50 AM. This would be nearly 12 hours after MH17 was downed. The person who filmed was situated in a flat.

The exact location where the truck was driving is here.

The map below shows 4  locations: below Snizne, the supposed location where the missile was launched. The red arrow points to Luhansk where the video was made. The green line running southeast shows the route of the truck as shown in the video.At the most right the village of Sjevernyi.

As this is the only video/photo of a BUK in East Ukraine after July17 nothing is known about the exact route.

According a video released by the team investigating the MH17 (JIT) crash the truck + BUK was in the early morning of  July 18 heading towards the village of  Sjevernyi. This is at the Russia/Ukraine border. The BUK was according JIT also brought into Ukraine via Sjevernyi(Sjevero/Severniy). An AFP video shows the Ukraine border crossing at Sjevero was abondoned starting from June 6

Google Maps shows a white truck carrying a load what *could* be a BUK at July 16 driving in a southerly direction near Luhansk. Look for yourself. The coordinates are 48.544917°  39.215819° . Mind there are many white trucks in Ukraine (for example used to transport coal).  This position shows what could be a BUK. 48.558092°  39.231740°



Strangly enough the Dutch NOS and Volkskrant suggests the BUK travelled from Snizhne towards to south directly to the Russian border,


What are the arguments showing this is a genuine video:

  1. The Russian Ministry of Defense took the video seriously. In a pressconference they stated the video was taken in the city of Krasnoarmeisk which was controlled by Kiev at July 18. Russia even Photoshoped a videostill showing a dealer adress. Bellingcat shows the location is in fact Luhansk. The billboard was later partly changed. Was this to hide the address shown by the Russian MoD was in fact Photoshopped?

What is still unclear?

  1. The United States has the capability to see what newspaper you are reading using satelites. Yet there is no information on the route the truck+BUK used. That is very unlikely. Maybe the US does not want to release the information they have?Vincent Verweij, a reporter of Dutch TV program Reporter, added these three comments to the Bellingcat forum.
  2. Time. Avakov claimed the video was shot on 18 July at 04:50 AM. That’s only 10 minutes after sunrise. Apart from the fact that the sky is too light, the shadows in the video don’t match with that time of day. You would expect to see long, stretched shadows.
  3. Date. There is new, circumstantial evidence that this video was not shot on July 18, but earlier. I cannot say much about, because we will reveal it in our tv-broadcast end of June.
  4. Control. Who controlled the spot where the BUK drove? The rebels or the government? Three days before the downing of MH17, on July 14, the Ukrainian army launched an attack to regain control of the Luhansk airport. They used the E40 road from the north to move to the airport in the south. A wide corridor around the E40 was created and several districts of Lugansk came back under government control. On July 18th, the government firmly controlled the airport and areas around the E40. The intersection where the BUK was filmed, is 2.5 km from the E40. It’s not clear who controlled it on July 18th. It could have been both sides. This map suggests the government controlled it, but it’s unclear how precise the LiveUAMap is. Greidanus did a lot of research on the situation around Luhansk. What he found out is described below in point 5. It is also written as comment on Bellingcat.
  5. Regarding the transport of the BUK in the night of July 17-18 there is conflicting information:

    Just after midnight Anton Gerashchenko posted a message on Facebook saying: “Ten minutes ago a row of military machinery including the above mentioned “Buk” has passed the point 48.011623, 38.763036 on the road T-0522. It is only ten kilometers left to Russia.”

    In the interview with Vitaly Naida, head of SBU (cited on p. 43), a claim is made that the trailer with the BUK was seen around 2:00 AM in Luhansk.

    Earlier claims by Ukrainian officials stated that the trailer with BUK was sighted at 4:50 AM in Krasnodon and a video was delivered as proof. See e.g.:
    Only later it was admitted that the trailer and BUK had been filmed in Luhansk.

    In the above mentioned article Naida states that the BUK crossed the border around 4:00 AM, as you cite on p. 44
    How then could the video in Luhansk be made about fifty minutes later?

  6. There was heavy fighting between Ukraine forces and separatists in the periode July 12-July 18. So first of all it is not clear if the area the truck drove in was controlled by separatists. Secondly why would the truck decide to drive to Luhansk, a city under heavy attack, when it could have taken a faster and much safer road directly towards Russia? Arnold Greidanus collected many links indicating the heavy fighting in Luhansk.

    : + + + + +

    On the morning of the 18th there was heavy shelling on Luhansk:

    This already started in the night of 17 to 18: went on during the night: + +

    on July 14th the Ukrainian Army retook several villages near Luhansk, including Rozkishne. See e.g.:


    Rozkishne is in the area near the intersection of the H21 going to the centre of Luhansk and the E40. Coming from Shizhne and through Volnukhyne the trailer and BUK would have to pass that area to reach the intersection filmed.

    As for the situation in the city itself: as can be deduced from the reports and other public sources the eastern part of the city center was held by separatists, whereas the western part was controlled by the UA.

    The Luhansk municipality published some reports on the situation which give more details regarding the districts near the filmed intersection, such as the Artemivs’kyi and Lenins’koho (Leninsky) districts: (overview, 18/7) (17/7) (18/7) (18/7) (19/7)

    From all these sources it is clear that there was shelling and fighting in and near the center of Luhansk. The south-west area was in hands of Ukrainian troops.
    This is no 100% proof the trailer with the BUK could not have been driving at the intersection filmed, but is highly unlikely.


  7. The truck  with BUK minus 1 missile was filmed driving southwards on the road called Nechuya Levits’kohu in Luhansk. This means the truck must have come from the M04. If the truck indeed came from Snizhne or Donetsk it must have crossed the E40 motorway.
    The E40 motorway was for sure under control of Kiev because it connected Kiev controlled area north of Luhansk with the airport south of Luhansk. Ukraine withdrew from Luhansk airport around September 1. How likely is it a truck plus BUK crossed the Kiev controlled motorway?
  8. Some media claimed Avakov stated the video was taken in the city of Krasnodon near the Russian border. I do not think this is correct. He  stated the truck was travelling in the direction of Krasnodon. See his Facebook post.
    The next day he mentioned the correct location
  9. However: the website of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress publishes the daily briefings by the national security center. The text of the July 18th briefing can be found here:
  10. The translation says: “moving through Krasnodon towards the Russian border”.
    So it seems weird Avakov initially mentioned an incorrect town the BUK was filmed. Four days later he added the coordinates of the Luhansk road to his Facebook page.
    Additionally, the adviser to Ukrainian Interior Minister, Anton Gerashchenko, posted on July 18  at his Facebook page a message saying in German “Das Video wurde von unserer Aufklärung des Ministeriums für innere Gelegenheiten heute Morgen um 4.50 neben der Stadt Krasnodon gemacht.”. Which mean “the video was made next to the city of Krasnodan’. So the location was wrong here as well.
  11. Paris Match did not want to adjust the caption of the video. They said Krasnodon was the officially provided information . Source location
  12. The spokesman of the Ukraine NSDC, Andrey Lysenko, said at July 17 a BUK was seen in Luhansk. This BUK convoy was filmed. Was it the same BUK as seen in the video above supposed to be taped at July 18? Thanks Arnold Greidanus for finding this information. Follow Arnold for much info on MH17.
  13. Why wasn’t the BUK covered with camouflage nets like on the day before when it was seen in Snizhne? There was over 10 hours to cover the BUK. The BUK must have been parked for a while after the shot down.
  14. The route does not make sense at all. If the missile was launched from Snizhne why would the BUK travel all the way towards the North (Luhansk) and then while in Luhansk travel in a south-easterly  direction towards Krasnodon? If the BUK was rapidly being brought back to Russia this is a long detour. From Snizhne it is only about 30 km towards the border.Why the detour?
    Possible explanations:
    1. The truck could not drive southwards from Snizhne as a small strip of land between rebel controlled area and Russia was still controlled by Ukraine forces. So the truck had to go towards to north. This still does not makes sens why they went all the way to Luhansk. The map below shows the situation at July 16

    2. It could well be the lowloader with BUK on it was too high to pass some of the overpasses on the route. For example the M04 heading from Krasnodon to Donetsk (Russia) has an overpass (Google Earth 48.442918° 38.803971°).On the main road connecting Luhansk with Debaltseve there is a low overpass (3.5 meters)as well (Google Earth 48.442918°  38.803971°) Credit for finding Dirk . Photo of the overpass taken from here
  15. A BUK TELAR loaded on a lowloader is over 4 meters high

  16. What was the reason for the police surveillance team to be in that flat filming the truck with BUK? Likely they knew the truck was comming. If indeed a police surveillance team filmed the truck, why didn’t they release a much more detailled video?
  17. Why is this this the only video available showing the BUK missing a missile?
  18. Why didn’t the separatists/Russia cover the BUK so nobody could see the vehicle and especially nobody could see a missile was missing?
  19. Why was the BUK evacuated 18 hours after it shot down MH17?
  20. Why did the truck made an exit on the M04, drove via Nechuya Levits’kohu street direction Luhansk. It could have continued on the M04 which is about the same distance.
  21. The exact area the truck was driving was controlled by Kiev at July 17/18 according However maps produced by Pro Russian sites show the area was controlled by separatists. (source). More maps showing area controlled by separatists here and here and here


Human Rights investigation has a couple of other arguments which doubts the video.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

15 Comments on True or fake: The Luhansk video showing BUK missing 1 missile transported towards Russia

  1. The billboard clip is a fake

  2. Prosto Tak // May 20, 2015 at 11:23 pm // Reply

    The Ukrainian maps have always been over-optimistic. As far as I know, Ukraine has never controlled any part of the city of Luhansk, only suburbs, during the armed conflict. The front line has never run through the city itself.

    As for the route, the Buk must have been evacuated through Donetsk, using the same detour they had safely done when they were going to Torez/Snizhne. Either they had to wait for further command in Donetsk, or an alleged crew from Russia might not have known any other safe way back. Direct roads from the shooting location to the border were not 100 percent separatist controlled at the time.

    Also, the so-called “police secret surveillance team” mentioned by Minister Avakov, whoever they were, just filmed what they could from a window in a neighboring apartment block. So maybe it has just been a local resident who slept bad that morning and, after passing the video to Ukrainian authorities, was “promoted” to a “secret police officer” to over-boast the (possibly non-existent) Ukrainian police activity there.

  3. Hector Reban // May 23, 2015 at 8:52 am // Reply

    A local resident doesn´t fix his camera position, waiting for a ¨unique truck¨ to enter his frame.

    Then he passed his video within hours to the SBU, who put it on Youtube immediately.

    Yeah right. Every citizen stands in direct contact with the secret service.

    It just doesn´t make any sense.

  4. Hector Reban // May 23, 2015 at 9:26 am // Reply

    To add a question:

    Why didn´t the Russian perps destroy both truck and BUK platform, as Gershchenko immediately said they probably would do?

    According Bcat´s trace, the truck appears later in rebel controled area and the BUK in the july convoy to Kursk.

    The Russians must be stupid to play Russian Roulette in the sky and then leave the murderweapon open for detection.

  5. Hector Reban // May 23, 2015 at 5:05 pm // Reply

    Also Brandpunt! (Dutch news program) reporter Verweij (twitteraccount @vverweij) now claims he has absolute proof the “unique truck” with the three rockets would have been passing government controled area in Luhansk.

  6. Bellingcon // May 26, 2015 at 5:51 am // Reply

    Speaking of overly optimistic, didn’t Reuters claim within a week give or take of the MH17 shootdown that Kiev’s forces were about to take Lugansk and were in the suburbs?

    Of course Reuters was lying, or more accurately, reporting Kiev’s boasts about advances as fact and conflating small recon strike groups ranging behind porous NAF lines with actual ground taken. The Ukrainians raised their flag over a police station less than 12 km or so from downtown Lugansk, then beat a hasty retreat.

    At least the author of this blog isn’t so ‘in the tank’ for the ‘Russia did it’ story, unlike Eliot Higgins, as to ignore the numerous and obvious questions about the authenticity of the SBU/Avakov produced Lugansk BUK video.

  7. Freilodder // June 25, 2015 at 5:28 am // Reply

    The video is not even a video. It is an animation. I’m working on a blog putting what I have found together, but not being an “expert” in the field, I don’t know that anyone will take any notice of what I say.

    • Freilodder, don’t worry about not being an “expert”.
      Can you give us a link to that “blog” your are talking about where you explain that the Luhansk video is an animation ?
      Or are you just yet another one of those Russian trolls that is blurting out nonsense and unfounded accusations ?

  8. sotilaspassi // August 27, 2015 at 6:56 am // Reply

    Nice to see also that video is still further inspected..

    For this: “police surveillance team to be in that flat filming the truck with BUK?”
    I wonder where that info is from?

    IIRC, according to bellingcat it was some woman with pro-LPR brother who filmed the truck with BUK.

  9. As the route to launch site starts to be clear and confirmed.
    Perhaps it starts to be time to try to find where it went after the shooting.
    Luhansk video looks real. Same lowloader. BUK minus one missile.
    But why was it driving there? There was some Ukraine military activity there.
    If there was BUK crew with the lowloder, BUK could be driven off the lowloader to go under shallow bridges. But perhaps crew went some other route?
    Did BUK make a trip to some Luhansk base? But why?

    The sat image above about the another “BUK transport” above is also interesting. It might be some (or same) lowloader taking some BTR to Russia for repair and then going to bring some other HW (BUK) back??

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.