Why the alleged launch site is not so obvious as some suggest

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Bellingcat and Ukraine@war both claim that a field situated south of Snizhne is the location where a Russia supplied BUK TELAR launched a missile towards MH17 killing 298 people on board.

Bellingcat basically jumps to conclusions. A man with a gun seen in the neighborhood of a house where someone was shot must be the killer. It does not matter if the man has an alibi. We see the same 1+1=2 logic in many of the Western main stream media.

Kremlin did lie a LOT! However this does not mean guilty per se.

In history people have been fooled many times. Remember the war on Iraq started on false evidence. I can go on and on. Many innocent people are in jail because of tunnelvision by police investigators and judges.

Back to topic. Two photos were made public by the photographer showing a white vertical trail somewhere south of Snizhne. The facts of the two photos:

  1. the exact time the photos were made are unknown. We know the EXIF time but the clock of the camera was set at an incorrect time according Bellingcat. It is estimated based on shadow calculations the photos must have been made shortly after 16:20 local time.
  2. the RAW photos are not available for public inspection
  3. we do not know what caused the white trail seen in the photos

Bellingcat assumes the white trail was caused by the BUK missile. To state that, we need to be sure alternative explanations for the white smoke are invalid. We also need to make sure the white smoke indeed originated from the alleged lauch location.

Let us have a closer look at the alleged launch location.

Bellingcat assumes the small grass area was burned because of the missile launch. However it is not for sure that a BUK missile launch causes the field to be set on fire. If this was the case, wouldn’t a BUK crew avoid places which could easily catch fire?

JIT took soil samples of the alleged launch location. This was done in June 2015, 11 months after the disaster. They took samples of an area near a tree which is located a bit more into the field, away from the row of trees. Which is about 300 meters east of a small area (about 50 square meters) which was burned at July 17.

Videos and photos showing the alleged launch location are here.

While it seems for sure the area was burned at July 17, we do not know what caused the fire. It could be the launch of a missile, it could be set on fire on purpose by someone, it could be caused by flares dropped from aircraft.

As long as we do not know for sure that a field will be set on fire after a BUK launch, any location could be used by a BUK.

The photo impression released by the ambassy of US in Kiev which indicates this field should not be taken as a fact.

The position of the BUK

If a BUK TELAR was positioned at the alleged launch location, this raises some eyebrowse. For example the BUK was probably located 20 to 30 meters from a row of tall trees. The trees might interfere with the radar signal of the BUK TELAR. More important, there is no place to hide the BUK for Ukraine Air Force aircraft to be detected and destroyed.

We know for sure the separatists had a Strela-10 anti aircraft vehile Mid July. The Strela-10 was seen hiding near trees between the villages of  Pervomais’kyi and Stepanivka. The Strela-10 was parked here  (47.945794, 38.780404) in a field not close to major roads. However the alleged BUK was positioned close to a road connecting Snizhne with villages south of it. From its alleged position it could easily be seen from the road by bypassers.

The photo analysed

In a future blogpost I will analyse the two photos showing the white smoke trail. How likely is it these are showing a BUK trail?

The two photos itself seems to be genuine. Although Dutch RTL Nieuws did not want to reveal the method of investigation of two experts who analyzed the photos, it seems very hard to manipulate RAW photos. See my blogpost here.

Eyewitness indicate a launch field southeast of Pervomaisk

Dutch reporter Gert-Jan Dennekamp spoke about 8 to 10 people living in Pervomaisk. This tiny village is situated about 1500 meters east of the alleged launch location. All people Dennekamp spoke to saw a missile that came from a south-southeasterly direction. See this blogpost for an overview. If these eyewitness are correct, the alleged launch location assumed by Bellingcat cannot be correct.


To be reasonable sure the alleged launch location is in fact the location a BUK missile was fired from, we need to debunk all other possibilities that could have caused white smoke. We also need to exclude other locations which will be impossible using only information available on internet.

Probably in October JIT will make public the exact type of weapon and location it was launched from.



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4 Comments on Why the alleged launch site is not so obvious as some suggest

  1. I considered this site as a position of TELAR to be an absurd option since the beginning. The most reasonable alternatives are http://i.imgur.com/n3SoVBy.jpg and http://i.imgur.com/Ix2SBku.jpg

    • sotilaspassi // July 13, 2016 at 9:04 pm // Reply

      is 4km further and perhaps better match with A-A math than the burned field.
      But it starts to be too close to max range, UNLESS rebels had BUK M1-2 !
      (when launcing at max range, f.jet that turns back can escape the missile!)

      Your second spot is another side of the trees near the burned field?
      BUK hidden under the trees can drive to either side to be able to fire different directions. When high flying target is reported BUK could drive to either side of the treeline. Area to protect is on the south side.

      • Look at the image of July 21, 2014. I thought of that burned patch with tracks of (likely) artillery guns before. But, across the trees there are tracks fitting for Buk, there is a distinct spot 6 m over, a better security, and no interfering trees ahead (in the direction of the last FDR point).

  2. sotilaspassi // July 13, 2016 at 8:54 pm // Reply

    IMO: If BUK launch plume picture is genuine, the plume movement & time would indicate closer to snizhne launch location.

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