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A 'Ukrainian Missile' Or A Failed Russian Space Launch?


An unmanned Russian Proton-M booster rocket crashes after veering off course after lift-off, in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on July 2, 2013.

An unmanned Russian Proton-M booster rocket crashes after veering off course after lift-off, in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on July 2, 2013.

Backers of pro-Russian separatists have recently accused Ukraine's armed forces of using powerful ballistic missiles against civilian populations in eastern Ukraine.

But Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) says it can prove that a report on a TV station run by Russia's Defense Ministry, which claimed to show a Tochka-U missile strike, was actually old footage of a failed Russian Proton-M satellite launch in Kazakhstan.

The August 20 report on Zvezda, the Russian channel, shows footage it claims was shot in eastern Ukraine.

"The Ukrainian Army struck Makiyivka with a Tochka-U rocket," causing "destruction to the city," says the TV host as video of a flying object falling and exploding just beyond a high-rise plays in the background.

In the video, the force of the explosion is so powerful that the windows in the apartment of the person filming shatter shortly after impact.

But the NSDC has produced a video rebuttal, which it says shows clearly that the Zvezda material is actually taken from the failed July 2013 launch in Kazakhstan of a $200 million Russian Proton-M rocket.

Comparing it with user-generated video of the 2013 crash, the NSDC highlights both the trajectory and the outline of the cloud of smoke following the explosion, proving, it says, that the events are the same.

Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council says a video claiming to show a Ukrainian Tochka-U rocket (left) is actually from a failed Russian Proton-M launch (right).

Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council says a video claiming to show a Ukrainian Tochka-U rocket (left) is actually from a failed Russian Proton-M launch (right).

While RFE/RL cannot independently confirm the NSDC video, Zvezda has taken a photo of the explosion off its website and Russia's state-run RT television channel, which frequently carries content favorable to pro-Russian separatists, itself says the video is of the Proton-M rocket failure.

-- RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, with contribution by Glenn Kates

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