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:
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
https://twitter.com/vverweij/status/554741270669967361Arnold 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.
- 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.: https://www.facebook.com/
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?
- 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.
:http://www.dw.de/ukraine-forces-claim-fresh-gains-in-luhansk-region/a-17784563 +http://www.interpretermag.com/ukraine-liveblog-day-147-ukrainian-forces-retake-several-villages-around-lugansk/ +http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28363086 +http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/121431 +http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/121255 +http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/121255
On the morning of the 18th there was heavy shelling on Luhansk:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/mh17-malaysia-airlines-crash-20-civilians-killed-in-luhansk-as-shelling-continues-9615101.html
This already started in the night of 17 to 18:https://twitter.com/100007182042214/status/489883578931875840and went on during the night: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2014/07/18/Luhansk-Ukraine-loses-electrical-power-and-water/1471405694602/ + http://europe-ukraine.eu/2014/07/18/no-electricity-water-in-luhansk/ +http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=149201&page=24
on July 14th the Ukrainian Army retook several villages near Luhansk, including Rozkishne. See e.g.: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:oHPQGP2DOP8J:uacrisis.org/zvedena-informaciya-informacijjno/+&cd=4&hl=nl&ct=clnk&gl=nl
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 liveuamap.com 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:
http://gorod.lugansk.ua/index.php?newsid=25088 (overview, 18/7)
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.
- 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?
- 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 https://www.facebook.com/arsen.avakov.1/posts/670837696339673?comment_id=671408826282560&offset=0&total_comments=45&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D
- 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:http://www.ucc.ca/2014/07/18/crisis-in-ukraine-daily-briefing-18-july-2014-6-pm-kyiv-time/
- 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.
- Paris Match did not want to adjust the caption of the video. They said Krasnodon was the officially provided information . Source location
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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
- A BUK TELAR loaded on a lowloader is over 4 meters high
- 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?
- Why is this this the only video available showing the BUK missing a missile?
- Why didn’t the separatists/Russia cover the BUK so nobody could see the vehicle and especially nobody could see a missile was missing?
- Why was the BUK evacuated 18 hours after it shot down MH17?
- 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.
- The exact area the truck was driving was controlled by Kiev at July 17/18 according liveuamap.com. 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.by