Two new Buk sightings and a new account of the missile trail

guest blog by Arnold Greidanus

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This summer I did some research on a few topics that I plan to publish in the near future.
Coincidentally I also found two new sightings of the Buk on July 17th, 2014, as well as an account of the launch trail.


Buk at Torez and Snizhne

First, there’s a comment posted after MH17 was downed, at 17:19 EEST. It was posted in a thread on Odnoklassniki by a woman named Olga Panchenko (maiden name Rudenko) (Ольга Панченко(Руденко)).
The thread was posted by a group named Antimaydan Torez and the thread is titled “Только что сбили самолет. Упал за 12 – й школой” (Just show down a plane. Fell behind school no. 12).
(It can also be found in this archive).

olga OK buk torez

Her comment reads:

Живу возле трассы, сегодня очень крутую установку везли в сторону Снежного, самонаводящую... с нее и били.
I live near the highway, today a very cool installation was carried towards Snihzne, self-targetting... to[wards] it and hit.

[The translation is a bit difficult, especially because of the word самонаводящую, which might be translated with self-targetting, self-guiding or homing (as in ‘radar homing’)].
An alternative translation suggested to me:
“I live near the highway, today a very cool self-targeting machine was hauled towards Snezhnoe. The shootdown was from it.”]

Since this comment was posted in an antimaydan community – and also judging by another comment in this thread (“Girls, do not argue, today the ‘boys’ brought down two planes !!!”) – this school teacher from Torez is supportive of the separatists.


Second, there’s a post at the South East News community on VKontakte, which was published at 16:05 EEST (the screenshot shows UTC):

post south east news VK buk 16h05

The text says:

Сегодня в 15:08:33
Город Снежное

Today at 15:08:33
Snizhne city

Beneath it is a poll. The poll statement reads:

Купил в военторге --для защиты от авиаударов
Bought at the arms store - for protection from air strikes

The time mentioned in the post is most likely given as Moscow Time, which means that the person posting saw a Buk at Snihzne at 14:08.
Of course, (s)he may have heard of it from somebody else as well, but the time given is rather specific, so I assume the person posting saw it him(her)self.
Obviously the photo displayed is not the Buk at Snizhne,  it was copied from the Russian wikipedia page about the Buk 9A310 TELAR.
(And the Buk pictured is a Ukrainian one, at the Museum of the Ukrainian Air Force, at Vinnytsia…).

If the time reported is indeed the time that the Buk was seen at Snihzne, then this provides new information on the time it departed from Snizhne.

The South East News community is a group that frequently posts about war events and they take a pro-separatist stance.


With these two items we do not only have sightings by pro-Ukrainian Twitter or VKontakte users, like @wowihay and @MOR2537, but sightings from people supporting the separatists as well!
(Maybe it’s time to “connect the dots” again, Hector Reban ?)


Missile trail

Some people complained that no one reported about a missile trail seen after the launch of a Buk missile at 16:19.

Actually there was already mention of a missile trail in a Zello recording, published on July 26th by blogger Ukraine@war:

“Vika, look, before the plane was shot down, I was watching in the direction of… well, precisely when you look at—what’s the name?—KhimMash. And so, above KhimMash, in the direction of KhimMash, there was something upwards… like smoke, something like a smoke trail… err… as if some kind of a missile launches upwards.”

And a bit further on:
But it was flying and smoking—with a white smoke—and strong buzzing loudly above Oktyabr’ flying there, you know, to… towards the town, in that direction.

Also Aric Toler already pointed to a VKontakte thread where a user named Irina Shcherbakova mentions she saw the missile trail:

I saw how a rocket flew from the direction of Saurovka…and then a minute-long lull and a loud explosion…a trail remained in the sky from the rocket…

Now I found another one, on a forum thread at the YapLakal website. At 17:09 EEST user CNvS posts the following message:

да, били из-под Саур-могилы, ребята знакомые видели след от ракеты, сразу после пуска
yes, they have hit from near Saur-Mogila, acquainted guys saw the missile trail, immediately after the launch


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30 Comments on Two new Buk sightings and a new account of the missile trail

  1. If anyone missed my old comment:
    “Yesterday this BUK was being carried through the centre of our town. Holy shit, we have been playing a war too much… I hate myself…”
    “I had seen the launch of missiles personally, and then was happy that Ukrainians [aircraft] got shot down… I’m confessing to God…”

    This “Dan’ka Radon’ka” indicated “Krasnyi Luch-Luhansk” as his place of permanent residence: He supported separatists too…

    • Arnold Greidanus // September 9, 2016 at 5:59 pm // Reply

      Nice addition, Slozhny!

    • Dan’ka Radon’ka’s place of residence is indicated as Krasnyi Luch-Luhansk, which means Krasnyi Luch in the Luhansk region (in 2016, Ukraine renamed Krasnyi Luch as Khrustalnyi). Krasnyi Luch is located north-east of Snezhnoe. So, either Dan’ka saw another Buk and the launch of other missliles or his post was a fake.

    • Another thing about Danka’s post: he wrote about the launch of missiles (plural). Did he indeed see more than one missile launched? Interesting.
      His post was discussed a bit by Ukrainian patriots in the days immediately after 17 July, in the context “вата кается” – literally “the wadding is repenting”. The “wadding” is a wide-spread (in Ukraine) slang term meaning those people who share separatist views (or close to their views). But then, after a few days, Danka’s post was forgotten.

  2. Arnold wrote:
    Obviously the photo displayed is not the Buk at Snizhne,

    There seems to be quite a few tweets or messages about people claiming to have seen the BUK. But none of these people managed to take a photo with a phone.
    If only one of them did we could be sure it was the truth

    • Not simple to manage to take photo of a lowloader going by. Many forget (deliberately) some realities.

      But at least two photos has been published, anyway.

      • And locals say rebels do not like photographers.

      • Two photos?
        I don’t think so. None of the tweeters or social media spotters managed to get a photo of the buk in the convoy.. Not even one.
        Many videos exist of the vostok convoy but none of them show a buk.

        • Lowloader nearly impossible to photograph on the move.
          Photos are from torez when lowloader is parked and from snizhne after it was unloaded.
          +BUK was captured by videocam 4 times in 17jul.

          • Those photos cannot be shown to be from the 17th July. Same with the videos. The google earth verification took 2 years to appear. Until that is explained it can’t be evidence.
            Courts that are not corrupt require that evidence be verified and explained.

            You can’t present evidence in any serious court and claim it is from a certain date. You need to explain how you know that.

          • sotilaspassi // September 11, 2016 at 12:05 pm //

            1: none of the material has been available before 17jul.
            2: all images/videos must be between jul8 and jul18, proving that rebels had BUK on the truck they took 8Jul.
            3: GE sat images was being kept secret/commercial, no one with enough money did buy necessary images until this year. (earlier bcspend moneyt on it, but bought the wrong area)


          • The source data for Google Earth, in this case the full WorldView 2 products from Digital Globe are not secret. Many scientific and government agencies have full access since June 2014 at least.

            “During June 2014 DigitalGlobe received permission from the US Department of Commerce to collect and sell imagery at the best available resolutions” http://

            From Bellingcat all we got so far (to my knowledge) is some cropped JPG copy from a DigitalGlobe processed “pan-sharpened” blend of images. But for a full, complete assessment, we have to see the full range of spectral and panchromatic products and metadata. And let various experts compare this with the complete Russian data, who so far only provided as well some selected edited JPG renditions of certain frequency ranges and nothing more to the public.

            This can not be called serious research, from neither side it’s not. Of course the various agencies have the fuller picture (they do have access to the full products) and I’m looking forward to their reporting including the methodology used. It might turn out all the “BC” conclusions, however premature, were right. But I prefer the doubt until more serious people have spoken out.

  3. Huge amount of witness are still unknown.
    e.g. JIT mentioned only 100s witness.
    There should be 1000+.

  4. Arnold wrote: Since this comment was posted in an antimaydan community – and also judging by another comment in this thread (“Girls, do not argue, today the ‘boys’ brought down two planes !!!”) – this school teacher from Torez is supportive of the separatists.

    You will probably need a bit more information to reach that conclusion. I’m not saying you are wrong, just that you don’t have enough information for your conclusion

  5. Transporting BUK-M2 from one city to another isn’t proof of having working BUK-M2. It might be strategic deception. Imagine what would Ukraine do when It would see BUK-M2 on road. Launch airstrike, blow it up, and get aircraft blasted out of the sky by OSA-AKM smuggled from Russia for three vodkas with permission of a Russia government official who has relatives on Donbas, and is pissed of because Ukraine bombed city where his relatives are living.

    Probably bad example, but lets look at example of sane country aka not Russia, nor Ukraine. When a competent commander sees a BUK-M2, he stops ongoing air operations and do heavy recon and all future operations are done with EXTREME precaution. Where is one BUK-M2, there are typically more of them hidden, and flying in the area is just a disaster waiting to happen.

    Sudden appearance of BUK-M1 interrupted Russian air operations in war in Georgia for several days. Rebels could use captured non functional BUK for similar purpose.

    BTW did they simulate missile arriving from behind the plane? I didn’t see any serious discussion about a missile arriving from west.

    • You got a lot wrong.

      1. MH17 damage is solid proof there was BUK M1(or M1-2 or M2) inside rebel area.
      You believe they had several? Broken on truck and working one elsewhere? No proof of that.

      2.Missile was simulated arriving from ahead of MH17.

      3.Damage prove missile came from ahead (missile flew to NW)

      • Logic says with ring like type of blast, there are two orientations of a missile which would fit. Because BUK-M2 fuse behaves differently when attacking perpendicularly, there might be a third correct orientation. Top parts of cabin were not found, right?

        Now I’m not exactly sure how much controlled that “rebel controlled territory” actually was. A grad salvo might force Kiev soldiers to switch BUK into autonomous mode, run away, then return back when they discovered it wasn’t a full scale Russian invasion. There is zero official info about positions of each Kiev BUK, with exception of documents that were captured by Donbass militia few months later.

        Then there are these problems like shrapnel pieces with two different chemical compositions. Was it really only ONE BUK missile? The problem is the Holland papers didn’t provide list of fragments found in bodies, wound channel orientations, and depth of penetration. If all these fragments were primary, it would suggest two missiles.

        • >there are two orientations of a missile which would fit
          Only one orientation possible because the fragment spread like a cone. (cone of top layer fragments, cone of heavy fragments, cone of fillers, cone of secondary fragments)
          Also proximity fuse operation allow only one approach direction.
          Same for radar silhuette/echo vs navigation to hit cockpit.

          >Because BUK-M2

          BUK-M2 was not used against MH17 ! ! ! !

          >fuse behaves differently when attacking perpendicularly,

          What is your source for that information?
          How is the fuse able to make decision of how to operate?
          I think your info is based on some Almaz-Antey lie.

          >BUK into autonomous mode, run away
          -rebels had no airforce
          -BUK is never used near frontline, it must be outside tank fire range (5km+ from frontline), because it has weak armour
          -BUK is not in autonomous mode when moving (launcher is off)
          _BUK can be used in linked mode, with SNOW DRIFT being tens of kilometers away.
          -It is crazy theory to try to imply UA sent BUK to frontline/inside rebel area to shoot down an airliner ! ! ! ! !

          >with two different chemical compositions.

          BUK M1 warhead is built from three kind of shrapnel.
          Fragments are mounted on top of the explosive as two fragment belts.
          So the cheap unalloyed metal compound can be from two or more different production runs.

          >Was it really only ONE BUK missile?

          All fragment penetrations originate in single point in space. -> one warhead exploded. All investigators agree on this. (except magic f.jet believers)

        • +
          >how much controlled that “rebel controlled territory” actually was.

          It was the main spot of rebel military activity at 17Jul.
          Rebel leader was filmed on the area 24h before MH17 shootdown.

          (summary of why the direction is from ahead:

  6. An interesting thing, the vast majority of pro-Russian users inwardly believe MH17 was shot down from that Russian Buk, as their usual hidden message is “Yes, it was that Buk, but JIT won’t be able to prove this in court, because of [bullshit].” But they are not lawyers of the accused. So just because they are for some (good?) reason in sympathy with Russia or its current regime and/or feel antipathy to Ukraine, US, EU, NATO etc, do they consider their duty to defend those war criminals and help those escape punishment? Never seen anything similar at their opponents.

    • It’s way more simple Slozhny, it doesn’t need “sympathizers” or Putin admirers behind the curtain. How the Kremlin runs their stuff is not my business or lies within my abilities to judge fully (not knowing how alternatives would do). This is all about realism: in conflicts like the one inside Ukraine, it gets pretty dirty, no “winners”, no “good guys”. So anyone interested in truth, in details, in “how could this happen” needs to keep asking the questions. Why did anyone shoot a Buk missile into a sky which was not closed off to commercial airliners? How did it all come to that? Why were there active air defenses while internationally it was still seen as a limited “ground war”? Which air war was exactly going on and why nobody is willing to show the details yet to the public (full radar, flight schemes, satellite tracking)? Were there really no Ukrainian fighter planes in the air? Why is there such a disagreement on those jets in the sky between multiple witnesses being interviewed? Is it because of legalities that all parties involved keep silent on the details? Or just political games?

      Having lived through every news item on the Iraq war, I do know by now that a majority “evidence” by the best and brightest intelligence, military, even presented to the United Nations, still can be mostly imaginary and dramatically wrong. The only “cure” against a repeat is to question, to demand time and let all parties present detailed evidence of their side. For example, a mathematical model of the explosion is not evidence of anything. It’s a helper tool to create a plausible scenario which covers “all holes”. But people sometimes mistake it for proof.

      • >Why did anyone shoot a Buk missile into a sky which was not closed off to commercial airliners?

        Good question:
        A1: they did not care
        A2: they thought airspace was closed (non-local crew)
        A3: there was mentally ill person

        > Why were there active air defenses while internationally it was still seen as a limited “ground war”?

        UA airforce operated against Russian and rebel ground forces daily. Rebels also shot down UA airforce almost daily.

        Even some British military advisor “advised” 16Jul Russia to send BUK to rebels, because MANPADs+Strela10s were not enough.

        >Were there really no Ukrainian fighter planes in the air?

        We know for sure none were above clouds.

        >Why is there such a disagreement on those jets in the sky between multiple witnesses being interviewed?

        Did you notice that no-one reported a fighter jet in MH17 scene 17Jul. (someone please point me f.jet eyewitness record from 17Jul because I do not recall any)
        All f.jet reports/witnesses seem to have appeared day+ after.

  7. I have a strong suspicion that Olga Panchenko’s post about “a cool installation” was the result of a hacking operation. This is, it was inserted into the thread some time after 17 July. Why do I think so? In the thread, Olga’s post looks isolated, there are no questions over that post or reactions from other participants, though her post is highly significant. Other things, less significant, are discussed in the thread vividly (questions, responses). Then, Olga’s post was _not deleted soon_ after 17 July, though its meaning was incriminating for the separatists. (Olga deleted it just after the above publication of Arnold Greidanus). The archive of the thread is of 6 December 2014.

    • Arnold Greidanus // September 22, 2016 at 9:37 am // Reply

      I’ve just checked it, and the comment is still there:
      And within that thread there are not that many people responding on its each others comments anyway. How would you explain adding a post after July 17th within that thread with that timestamp?

      • I do not see that particular comment. People ARE responding actively there. Olga’s post was important and nobody paid attention. As for adding a post at a later date, hacking the Odnoklassniki social network is not something as difficult as hacking Pentagon, or a major bank, or other high-profile institutions. The thread could have been hacked at some time between a few days after 17 July (when the thread was not topical already) and 6 December 2014, when it was archived.

        • Arnold Greidanus // September 22, 2016 at 11:07 am // Reply

          Look again, the post is still there…!

          After Olga’s post there are only 2 more comments posted before Andrei’s comment mentions that a Malaysian Boeing has been downed. Andrei links to an article published at 18:12

          In other words: between 17:19 and 18:12 there were only 2 other comments posted. The first, by Anya, is responding to a comment by Svetlana on the location. The second, by Nikolay, mentions locations at Grabovo, as he has called a relative there. Therefore both comments were adding to the discussion regarding the location where the plane fell. In brief: after Olga’s post it was quiet on that thread for a while.

          If hacking Odnoklassniki is that easy, including adjusting a timestamp – again: explain how to do that!
          Until then it’s just another unfounded conspiracy theory.

          • Indeed, Olga’s comment is still there. It seems I had a technical problem. However, I can’t agree with your other arguments. People continue to discuss various things after Olga’s comment, paying no attention to it. Also, after Andrei’s post about the news of the downing of Malaysian Boeing, it would be natural to delete Olga’s post, but nobody cared. Though, we know that separatists were cleaning their posts which might be construed against them.
            As for your demand to explain “how to do that!”, I can only say that I am not a hacker to explain. But it is well known that hackers are capable of breaking highly protected networks. Odnoklassniki is certainly not of that category.

          • Arnold, I am not a hacker, but it seems I can guess “how to do that”. The hacker used some other comment by Olga, he just replaced her original words with the statement about “a cool installation”. If her original post was of a sort of neutral quality (for instance, “Oh, how it is disturbing!”), a reaction from other thread participants was not necessary. But the statement about “a cool installation” looks very unnatural without any reaction. For instance, it would be natural to ask Olga: “What kind of installation?”. Astonishment, amazement in response would also be natural: “Oh, indeed? Really?” Some other reactions were also possible.
            A question to Arnold: Did not you ever hear of hackers breaking into a website of some politician or political party and placing there ridiculous cartoons, or indecent pictures, or hostile texts, etc?

  8. In this thread, two women were discussing the cut-off of mobile phone connections at the time close to the crash. One woman wrote that there were no connection while “самолет летел” (the plane was flying) and about five minutes after the crash. As she could not see or hear MH17 at its 10000 meter altitude, she apparently heard _another_ plane.
    Also, another plane was likely heard by a woman who was quoted by Aric Toler in his article about evidence from social posts of Donbass residents. That woman wrote that she did not see Sukhoi, she just heard “шумец” (slight noise) as if produced by a passenger plane. Again, she could not hear MH17 at 10000 meters, thus she heard another plane, at a lower altitude. Aric Toler’s translation was not really correct: he translated “it was quiet”.

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