Two years after

Guest blog by Arnold Greidanus

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Two years after: some food for thought

Today it has been two years that MH17 was shot down.
I sincerily hope justice will be done.
My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims.

On this occasion I’d like to present a few snippets, to serve as food for thought.
In the near future I hope to present a post on the immediate aftermath of the downing of MH17.
For now a few fragments may suffice.


After MH17 was taken down, news spread on social media. However, during the first 2 hours confusion ruled.
For some time it was unclear where the plane exactly fell, and what plane it was.
Most people posting messages on Twitter and VKontakte assumed an AN-26 freighter plane was downed. This may be due to the dimensions of the plane to observers. A few days before, on July 14th, an AN-26 had been downed already.

Nevertheless, some people assumed a SU-25 was shot. The day before at least two other SU-25’s had been shot at. In the morning news about a second SU-25 having been downed by a Russian jet fighter, in the early evening of the 16th, was trending on Twitter.

Some people believed that both an AN-26 and a SU-25 were downed.

In these tweets and VK-posts many assume that the plane(s) has (have) been downed by the separatists.

16:28 (EEST)
@HuSnizhne сбили. Слава донбассу!
@HUSnizhne Shot down. Hail Donbass!


16:51 (EEST)
Артем Бережецкий@AN_ArtBer
Только что в Торезе был сбит самолет укровский СУ-25, еще одним гадом меньше:) / / #ANNA_news_Новороссия /
In Torez a Ukrainian SU-25 has just been downed, another reptile less 🙂 / / #ANNA_news_Novorossiya  /

The assumption that the separatists downed a plane was confirmed by two posts at the Strelkov-info community on VKontakte.
Though it is unlikely these messages were written by Strelkov himself, it is very plausible that information was passed on from separatist circles.
(I will address this issue in a future post).

The first news site reporting on the event was Ria Novosti:

17:13 EEST (18:13 Moscow Time)
Transport An-26 shot down in eastern Ukraine, said witnesses

According to them, the plane crashed somewhere in the “Progress” mine area, away from residential areas. “We saw him hit a rocket, there was an explosion, the plane went to the ground, leaving a black smoke. From the sky some debris fell down”, – said one of the locals.

DONETSK, July 17 – RIA Novosti. Militia on Thursday shot down another transport aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force over the city of Torez, in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, reported eyewitnesses of the incident to RIA Novosti.

“About 16.00 local time an AN-26 flew over the city. We saw him hit a rocket, there was an explosion, the plane went to the ground, leaving a black smoke. From the sky some debris fell down”, – said one of the local residents. As proof of his words the interlocutors provided a video to our agency.
According to them, the plane crashed somewhere in the “Progress” mine area, away from residential areas.

As of approximately 17.50 EEST news slowly spreads that the downed plane was neither an AN-26 nor a SU-25, but a Boeing 777 of Malaysia Airlines.

There are a few news stories in which representatives of the separatists provided early statements. These are rather interesting:

19:00 EEST (20:00 Moscow Time)
Boroday: DNI have no weapons to shoot down the plane at an altitude of 10 km
Earlier in the Donetsk region a transport aircraft An-26 crashed, and later there were reports about the disaster of the Boeing 777 from Malaysian airlines.
DONETSK, July 17 – RIA Novosti. The militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic have no weapons that can bring down a passenger plane at an altitude of 10 kilometers, the Prime Minister of the unrecognized republic Alexander Boroday told Ria Novosti.
If this is indeed a passenger liner, we did not do it“, – assured Boroday. According to him, the aircraft crashed in Torez is much smaller than a Boeing. In addition, the Prime Minister recalled, Kiev closed the sky over the DNR and LNR to civil aircraft. [My emphasis]


19:03 EEST (20:03 Moscow Time)
The DNR said it shot down two aircraft of the Air Force of Ukraine – SU-25 and AN-26
Advisor to the Minister of Defence of the self-proclaimed DNR Igor Druz said that the militias shot down two aircraft – Su-25 and AN-26. “The transport plane An-26 was shot down over the city. It fell into the mine area, “Progress”, near the waste heap. Residential buildings are not damaged. At the crash site works reconnaissance militia “, – “Interfax” quotes the representative of the militia. Mr. Druz added that the assault fighter Su-25 was shot down near the Russian border. “It was hit by a portable anti-aircraft missile system. The crash location has been clarified, “- said the representative of the DNI.

(Igor Druz was advisor to the rebels’ military commander Igor Strelkov, and a senior spokesman for the rebel-held territories of Donetsk region. He was especially occupied with the ideology of the eastern Ukrainian rebel movement.)


20:04 EEST (21:04 Moscow Time)
LPR: Boeing brought down by Ukrainian Su-25
Ukrainian military could shoot down the plane Malaysian airlines, mistaking it for a Russian spy plane, the vice-premier of the LPR, Andrei Purgin, said on air at the “Russia 24” TV channel.


20:10 EEST (21.10 Moscow Time)
Liner Malaysian companies brought down by Ukrainian SU-25: the press service of the LPR
KIEV, July 17, 2014 , 21:10 – REGNUM The press-service of the Luhansk People’s Republic made an official statement about the passenger aircraft that crashed in the combat area. “Airliner “Boeing 777″ of the Malaysian company was hit by a Ukrainian Su-25, – the statement reads. – The airliner crashed near the village of Roszypne in the Donetsk People’s Republic”.
“Liner” Boeing 777 “Malaysian company was shot down by a Ukrainian SU-25, – the statement reads. – The airliner crashed near the village of Roszypne in the Donetsk People’s Republic”.
“After the attack on the passenger liner, the SU-25 Ukrainian Air Force was shot down by Luhansk defense and fell near the town of Krasnyi Luch, – stated the Luhansk People’s Republic. – For their part, the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics are interested in the thorough investigation of the incident with the participation of Russian and international experts, but it can be complicated by active military operations taking place in the field of the crash.”

The same press statement was covered by Russia Today. Here it is added that: “At the moment we are searching for the downed aircraft”.

I guess they’re still searching for that SU-25.

In the evening of the downing of MH17 Russian news media came up with all kinds of explanations and/or accusations, e.g.:
– the Ukrainian army was aiming for Putin’s plane instead of MH17 (source)
– the downing was an accident, due to unskilled Ukrainian military (source)
– Ukraine had moved a Buk battalion near Donetsk just the day before (source)
– MH17 was taken down by 2 Ukrainian jet fighters, according to a Spanish air traffic dispatcher, Carlos, allegedly working at Kiev Air Traffic Control (source)
– the route for MH17 was changed, leading it over the combat zone in Eastern Ukraine on purpose (source)
– the Donetsk People’s Republic expressed its fear that the crash site would be bombed by Ukraine in order to destruct evidence (source)

None of these ‘theories’ have been proven right, e.g. we haven’t seen a single photograph or video of Buks in Ukrainian held territory and within range of the point where MH17 was hit.
Some of the allegations above were adapted by the Russian Ministry of Defense in their July 21st press conference, which has been thoroughly debunked by Bellingcat, this website, Metabunk and others.

That’s all folks. Give it a thought.

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12 Comments on Two years after

  1. The earliest false report of a downed AN-26 came less than ten minutes after the crash:

    @HuSnizhne сбили самолет АН 26 под. Ольховчик Шахтерск

    Translation: “AN 26 aircraft shot down under. Olhovchik Shakhtersk”

    That was a reply from the a pro-Kiev poster to Snowie/HuSnizhne’s message five minutes earlier about a crash.

    An English translation was posted later in an MT (modified tweet):
    (((Ystriya))) ‏@ystriya 17 Jul 2014
    MT @HuSnizhne
    [45 min. ago:]
    #Snizhne: A plane flew by and then there was a boom. Either it bombed something or it was downed. [Shot down]

    UA_Ridna_Vilna’s AN-26 tweet at 16:30 local time was posted at least twenty minutes before Strelkov_info’s “AN-26 airplane has been shot down” message on Vk. (it’s not clear exactly when the latter message was posted because it was later deleted).

    This timing undermines the claim that Strelkov_info’s message was an admission that the rebels shot down what they thought was an AN-26. UA_Ridna_Vilna’s belief in an AN-26 shootdown was obviously just a false, but plausible, assumption. For that reason, there’s no reason to believe that what Strelkov_info said was also simply an assumption, and not a confirmation that rebels shot down an aircraft.

    • The significance of the timing is that UA_Ridna_Vilna could not have found out about the supposed AN-26 from Strelkov_info.

      It was probably even the other way round, that Strelkov_info learnt, either directly or indirectly, about UA_Ridna_Vilna’s AN-26 report, and accepted it as fact. That’s likely because there must have been some people on the rebel side who were following the Twitter feed of HuSnizhne, who was a well-informed Ukrainian info-warrior.

      Even if it could be proven that Strelkov_info independently came up with their own AN-26 story, the earlier message at 16:30 would still undermine the interpetation of Strelkov_info’s as an admission, instead of incorrect speculation. If UA_Ridna_Vilna was just speculating, then Strelkov_info could have been speculating too.

  2. Liane Theuer // July 17, 2016 at 6:15 pm // Reply

    To be balanced I want to add all statements coming from the Ukrainian side and Western media, that have not been proven right :

    1) On July 14 an AN-26 military transport plane was shot down by a missile fired from Russian territory.
    2) Snizhne on July 15/2014 was hit by a Russian airplane.
    3) Ukrainian Ministry of Defence : Su-25M1 was shot down close to the border with Russia on Wednesday night 16 July around 19:00 local time. The hostile fire came from Russian territory and not – like in many earlier incidents – from anti-government elements in the east of Ukraine.
    4) Anton Gerashchenko : „Thousands of people saw the launch and the flight of the rocket, which you lovingly gave your sponsored terrorists!”
    5) Igor Romanenko : Up until recently one surface to air-missile regiment was stationed in Donetsk region. Nonetheless, since this weapons system is not used for ground defense of cities and villages it was redeployed to a different region a few months ago. Only the commanders of the regiment armed with small-weapons remained near Avdiivka.
    6) When Flight MH-17 crashed, there were no Ukrainian fighter aircraft in Ukrainian airspace and the plane was outside the range of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ ground based air defense systems, according to Andriy Lysenko.
    7) Andriy Lysenko : The Ukrainian military have taken an inventory of its anti-aircraft missile systems and confirmed that no missiles are missing.
    8) Andriy Lysenko : The Boeing crash is the third case of a plane being shot down after Ukrainian military planes, an An-26 transport plane and a Su-25 fighter jet, were brought down from the Russian territory. To destroy the target, the command of the Russian Air Force ordered the pilot of a MiG-29 plane to use an R-27T (AA-10 Alamo-B) medium range Infra Red homing air-to-air missile. This type of missile cannot be detected by the Su-25’s SPO-15 radiation warning receiver, and neither can it be detected by satellite surveillance systems or post-launch surveillance systems.
    9) Anton Gerashchenko : A Buk missile launcher, allegedly used by pro-Russian rebels to knock down flight MH17, being smuggled away into Russia with two missiles missing. “It were exactly these missiles which brought death to almost 300 innocent passengers of the ill-fated Malaysian Boeing,” he added.
    10) Vitaliy Nayda : At 2:00, July 18, two movers each with a Buk missile launcher crossed the Russian border in Luhansk region. At 4:00, another three movers: one of them empty, other carrying a launcher with four missiles and the latter allegedly with a control unit, crossed the state border.
    11) Vitaliy Nayda on July 19/2014 : Three Russian “BUK-M1” surface-to-air missile systems were located on Ukrainian territory controlled by terrorists at the time when Malaysia Airlines Boeing-777 was shot down. One of the systems, operated by a crew of 3 Russian citizens, fired the missile that hit MH17 airliner from a location near the town of Snizhne in Donetsk region.
    12) According to Mr. Nayda, terrorists planned to hide bodies of the killed. When militants discovered that they had downed a passenger airliner, they tried to remove the bodies, driving them away from the site on trucks. However due to the large number of bodies, the terrorists abandoned this plan.
    13) BBC : US Secretary of State John Kerry said it was “pretty clear” Russia had transferred a missile system to the rebels which was allegedly used to down the jet.
    Ukraine produced what it said was a recording of another intercepted call between rebels (in Russian) saying Moscow had given orders not to hand the “black boxes” to international monitors.
    14) : So, it appears that at least one of the buks, which the SBU claim belongs to Russia, is actually Ukrainian. It is essential that the Ukrainians provide a full inventory of all their Buk M1s and precise movements of each of these vehicles – rather than producing pictures of their own vehicles which they hold out as belonging to the rebels – and they should do that immediately.
    15) REUTERS : U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry laid out what he called overwhelming evidence of Russian complicity in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 as international horror deepened over the fate of the victims’ remains.
    Kerry demanded that Moscow take responsibility for actions of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine whom Washington suspects of downing the jet with a missile, and expressed disgust at their “grotesque” mishandling of the bodies. “There’s enormous amount of evidence, even more evidence that I just documented, that points to the involvement of Russia in providing these systems, training the people on them,” he said on CBS.
    16) Just three hours after the crash the SBU released the first wiretap with the statement “Cossacks at Chernukhin”
    17) Statements Marie Harf on July 21/2014 (too much to quote it) :

    That are only the first five days and it is not complete !

  3. “Some of the allegations above were adapted by the Russian Ministry of Defense in their July 21st press conference, which has been thoroughly debunked by Bellingcat, this website, Metabunk and others.”

    As far I know, that ‘debunking’ is based entirely on the belief that the DigitalGlobe satellite image of the Ukrainian army base is authentic.

    If that image and its date are genuine and unaltered, it begs the question: why did the US not release it within hours of the Russian MoD press conference? Debunking the Russian evidence would have lent a lot of credibility to their own claims about a Buk fired from rebel-held territory and about Russia’s involvement.

    Instead they waited ten months for the image to show up on Google Earth, where Bellingcat found it. At that stage it was too late for anyone to check the location, to see which image was taken on 17 July 2014.

  4. Basic Dimension // July 17, 2016 at 8:36 pm // Reply

    Sometimes we do not really know why we are together on this site. The most is rationalization since we are driven by our subconsciousness.

    The human variant has evolved since the homininae (7 mya, 400cc) and we strongly identify with groups of killed people which are cross-sections of our own society, complete with children and elderly people. They were vulnerable and innocent. Then we subconsciously know they cannot be blamed for their death.

    But this means the downing of the MH17 is life threatening for humanity as a whole and not just for the Dutch or the inhabitants of Donetsk. That’s what we really feel. That’s the first what binds us.

    The second shock around the MH17 is the undignified death of passengers. Many of them were literally torn to pieces. In the animal world ‘torn to pieces’ is the evidence that the individual will never live again.

    This also in the human world. But humans discovered ‘rebirth’ and ‘reincarnation’. But the point I want to make is deep in our unconscious we are alarmed that part of our society will never live again. That are our primitive roots.

    In 2013 Professor Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa discovered a hybrid between Australopiths and Homo erectus in Naledi chamber in the world famous Rising Star Cave. This made the paleoanthropology shake to its foundations. Did human-like creatures already make fire 3 million years ago? Did they bury their deaths already 3 million years ago? Could half ape like creatures have established a complete social society with just 550cc? Did they factually believe in ‘rebirth’?

    Very deep in us we completely identify with the victims of the MH17 since we feel they will never live again. But people belief in God, what can ease their pain. We are deeply shocked and will do our best to find the destroyers of humanity.

  5. “food for thought”

    To those who closely followed the events unfolding the things discussed in the Arnold’s article do not seem to be that important. Because he is a stranger (relatively), he probably thinks that he is talking about serious issues.

  6. sotilaspassi // July 18, 2016 at 6:46 am // Reply

    “we haven’t seen a single photograph or video of Buks in Ukrainian held territory and within range of the point where MH17 was hit.”

    Yep. I doubt Donbas was not so pro-Kiev that they did not photograph UA HW. The area seems slightly more pro-RU.

  7. sotilaspassi // July 18, 2016 at 10:49 am // Reply

    About stopping commercia flights above crisis areas:

    IMO: If flying is not 100% normally safe, flights should be re-routed elsewhere. That’s because if airliner hits some emergency situation, it might need to descent to below 6km. Then it is vulnerable to manpads. AND if GPS jamming is used on area, it might also make it harder to navigate and track an airliner. AND, perhaps, PSR coverage should be made mandatory. With a working PSR, MH370 would not have been lost, etc.

  8. Yesterday Valentyn Nalyvaichenko repeated his old claim that some Aeroflot airliner had had to be the target: (in Ukrainian). While he neither mentioned AFL2074 nor Pervomaiske. If almost nobody believes it anyway, and it is not going to be incriminated to Russia, why does he continue to claim this? It does not look like propaganda in this case. And Nalyvaichenko is a rational person, I can assure everyone. I do not agree or disagree with him, just wondering.

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