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Bellingcat Report Says Russian Buk 332 Shot Down Flight MH17 

  • RFE/RL

Bellingcat investigators say they have identified some unique characteristics of the Russian Buk M1 self-propelled missile launcher (pictured), which was photographed in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine at the same time as when Flight MH17 was shot down.

Bellingcat investigators say they have identified some unique characteristics of the Russian Buk M1 self-propelled missile launcher (pictured), which was photographed in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine at the same time as when Flight MH17 was shot down.

A team of open-source researchers investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 says it has positively identified a Russian Buk missile launcher that shot down the plane.

A report released late on May 3 by Bellingcat, an independent team of British investigators, says flight MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014, by Buk self-propelled missile launcher 332 from Russia's 53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade of Kursk.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said he could not assess the accuracy of the Bellingcat investigation because he did not "possess any detailed information about any identification numbers of Russian weapons."

Peskov said detailed information about the activities of Buk 332 was "an issue that concerns experts from the Defense Ministry."

Using photographs posted online since 2010 by members of Russia's 53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade, Bellingcat experts matched seven unique characteristics of the Russian Buk M1 self-propelled missile launcher that was photographed in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

Those features included partially obscured identification numbers, the font and exact spacing of the digits, wheel types, a dent in the left side panel, the arrangement of cable connections to the missile launcher, white marks on both sides of the vehicle, and the shape and size of oil and soot deposits near the exhaust.

The Bellingcat report says Buk 332 had all seven features and was the only possible candidate for identification that had even one feature in common with the Russian Buk photographed in eastern Ukraine just before the plane was shot down.

A Bellingcat report in February linked higher-ups in Russia's military chain of command to the missile attack that killed all 298 people on board the civilian passenger plane.

Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine responded to the latest Bellingcat report by denying the presence of any Russian air-defense crews in territory under their control at any time, including the time the Malaysian jetliner was shot down.

The Kremlin also denies that it has sent any Russian military units into eastern Ukraine to support the separatists.

It says all Russian soldiers who have been killed or captured by Ukrainian government forces there have been volunteers.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says Kyiv has evidence of Russian troops and equipment crossing into eastern Ukraine despite a shaky cease-fire deal brokered in Minsk.

Kyiv also says Russian now has more than 30,000 soldiers deployed in eastern Ukraine to support Russia-backed separatists there.

With reporting by BBC and Interfax
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