Friday, August 26, 2016

Ukraine Unspun

New Competing Claims On Downing Of MH17

Following a Dutch television report that appeared to corroborate the widely-held theory that a pro-Russian separatist-held Buk missile launcher shot down a Malaysian Airlines flight, Moscow is now vigorously promoting new claims that a Ukrainian jet caused flight MH17 to crash. 

The report for Dutch RTL Nieuws claims that a resident of eastern Ukraine has provided three high-resolution photos -- two showing plumes of smoke consistent with a Buk missile system and a third showing what appears to be the aftermath of the Malaysian flight crash. 

The timestamps on the photos, which were geolocated to the area of the crash, correspond to the time when the plane went down. 

Two experts working with the Dutch team said they could find no evidence of tampering. 

Eliot Higgins, whose Bellingcat website used open-source information to track the movements of the Buk believed by many to have brought down MH17, told RFE/RL it's "extremely likely" the photographs are genuine and are further evidence of a surface-to-air missile launch.

"The Buk we tracked on July 17 unloaded north of that area, and was seen driving down the road towards the area, so it certainly all fits together very nicely," he said over e-mail. "Everything in the photo matches what we know already." 

But on December 22 -- just hours after the Dutch report -- the Russian "Komsomolskaya Pravda" tabloid published an interview with an alleged anonymous former Ukrainian soldier who claimed that he could provide a firsthand account of the July 17 disaster, which killed all 298 people onboard.

According to his account, a pilot in an SU-25 aircraft left his base in Dnipropetrovsk equipped with R-60 air-to-air missiles shortly before the Boeing 777 was shot down. When the "very scared" looking pilot returned there were no missiles left on the twin-engine Soviet-built plane. 

The pilot, who the supposed witness names in the "Komsomolskaya Pravda" report, allegedly told another service member that "the plane was in the wrong place at the wrong time." 

Four days after the July crash, the Russian Defense Ministry floated the theory that an SU-25 had shot down the Malaysian jet, but aviation experts quickly cast doubt on the claim.

At the time, David Gleave, an aviation and safety researcher at Loughborough University, told RFE/RL that when loaded with missiles the SU-25 could not reach an altitude much higher than 5 kilometers -- MH17 was flying at around 10 kilometers when it was hit. 

According to the Russian-backed witness, the plane was able to overcome this hindrance by turning its nose up and firing into the air. 

Pavel Felgenhauer, a journalist and military analyst, told the independent that the new Russian claims are "complete garbage." 

Felgenhauer said the SU-25 would not have had the capacity to catch up to a Boeing 777 at cruising speed. And because the R-60 is a heat-seeking missile, he said it does not make sense that the nose of MH17 appears to have been hit rather than the engine. 

Ukraine's Security Service said the alleged Ukrainian pilot did not fly on the date of the MH17 crash and that his plane had been taken out of commission for repairs on July 16. 

But in a statement, Russia's Investigative Committee said "the way he behaved and from his stated facts, the investigators had no doubts about the sincerity of the information" provided by the alleged witness. 

The law-enforcement authority, which has had a combative relationship with Kyiv since battles between government forces and pro-Russian separatists broke out in eastern Ukraine last April, also said its source had passed a polygraph test.

Higgins, said the new Russian story may be meant to "confuse the situation." 

"You just have to look at how quickly that story and other stories related to it were spread in the wake of [the Dutch report]."

-- Glenn Kates

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Anonymous
December 24, 2014 14:55
first of all ,
that was a SU 25 is only a supposition
also russian general in press conference said "probably a SU 25"
not "for sure a SU 25"
how can you speak about some smoke as evidence ????
What do you think , that we are a mass of stupid ?

we are still waiting for radar records of ukrainian air control ....
where are ?
In Response

by: dszubert from: Moscow
December 26, 2014 20:51
That smoke trail, my dear Anonymous, is what Putin's paid trolls have been shrieking about the non-existence of for months - evidence of the Buk launch plum.
In Response

by: Anonymous
December 27, 2014 12:26
What has Obama paid you, american troll? What a garbage that some smoke is an evidence of buk, can't believe to what extent these idiots can go!
In Response

by: Ron A. from: Portugal
December 29, 2014 01:06
About the 'smoke trail' -- I see a nearly horizontal curved streak, of thick, dark smoke, in the sky of the photo that leads this article. But, is this the right color, for a BUK missle?

I did find a reference saying the BUK leaves behind it a smoke trail of this type (thick and dark), but found many more saying a launched BUK leaves behind it a _white_ vapor trail.

For example:
"Here’s how it looks like when a Buk missile is fired:
As you see, the missile leaves a wide _white_ vapor trail that stays in the air for minutes and can be seen from miles away."
and ...
Check out the Buk smoke at
or do you not trust your own eyes and common sense?"

It would be welcomed it if someone could tell me what I'm missing.

The second video link came from here:

by: Molly H. from: U.S.
December 24, 2014 17:23
In Response

by: Sebas from: Lublin, PL
December 25, 2014 10:13
Exactly my thoughts.

by: jojnjo from: Dublin
December 24, 2014 18:19
Yea...& Pigs can Fly.

I've made my own version of "Dad's Army" theme song which goes "Who Do You Think You're Kidding, Mr Putin? About the MH17? We know your game, is trying to blame, anybody other than those who are really to blame. So , who do you think you are kidding, Mr Putin? When will all your lying be done?

PS. Wishing all at "Radio Free Europe" a very Merry Christmas followed by a 2015 that is exhilarating & blissful.

by: Nodir from: Denver, CO
December 24, 2014 23:53
The Ukrainian officials are behaving strangely to say the least. They had everything to gain from having a western plane downed over rebel held area, and with every day passing it appears more and more that Ukrainian forces have carried out this crime. Although if they thought they are firing at a russian plane one can understand them. It is a war after all, and the plane had no business of being in that area...
In Response

by: Lucia from: France
January 10, 2015 20:54
The problem is that the Ukrainian military did not have access to the area, which is controlled by pro-Russian separatists. There is only allowed the OSCE.

by: Frank from: London
December 25, 2014 09:59
Putin is a liar, pants on fire (lying and corruption go hand in hand).

P.S. I didn't think I was politically naive, what with having worked in 1978/79 under two opposing governments in Iran. However, the experience of arguing with Kremlin trolls here was a useful re-learning experience about the value, for analysis purposes, of dividing the world's governments into two simple categories: the LFLs and the MFLs (Norway and New Zealand are Less Frequent Liars; Syria, Russia, Uzbekistan and Iran are More Frequent Liars; it is common sense to anyone who has worked in an MFL country that the USA and Britain are in the LFL category, although one can always find the occasional vengeful citizen who will argue differently).

Many thanks to Brian Whitmore for the podcast, The Kremilin's Mind Bombs, and to Sam King for the StopFake “The Top 75 False Media Reports” video clip. A big thank-you to Peter Pomerentsov, Prof. Mark Galeotti and Michael Weiss for explaining what lies behind the Kremlin’s disinformation strategy. Of course it would have been better to have known all that at the time of arguing with “Jack from the US”. One of the strange things about the latter’s posts here is that he appears to hate America so much, that if he were genuinely American, he could only be Charles Manson having a tantrum, just after being rejected for parole for the hundredth time, to achieve the tone of comment that he does. And more to the point, would Charles Manson really bother to comment here? The Ukraine issue (and the shooting down of MH17) seems to be about Russia, an MFL country, not wanting to live next to a soon-to-be LFL country. Just my view.

by: George from: USA
December 25, 2014 14:08
Pavel Felgenhauer was much too gracious in his description of Russia's latest "evidence". It has been my experience that most of what Russia puts forth as "truth" should generally be handled only by those with strong stomachs, latex gloves, and - as the investigators were forced to do at the site of the crash - with handkerchiefs pressed against their nostrils
In Response

by: Australian from: Melbourne
December 27, 2014 12:31
Same goes to all western coverage, garbage is a soft term

by: Demetrius M from: RFE's House
December 25, 2014 17:51
I believe I know the name of the SU25 pilot in question: George Glass - Grew up in California. Trained as a pilot at Velikaya Krucha in 1999. Married Jan Brady in 2002. Yep, George Glass, the "Not Me" (from Family Circus) of modern geo-political chaos.

by: Fred Eidlin from: Prague, Czech Republic
December 25, 2014 21:43
The situation with regard to the MH17 tragedy is far more complex than this article makes it out to be. The video to which the following link leads does a much more thorough job of examinging the relevant evidence It is only one of many available analyses. Here are some more things to think about Especially intriguing is: (1) that the final report of the investigation will remain secret if the four countries conducting the investigation are not unanimous in their conclusions; and (2) None of the 10 questions posed to the Ukrainian military at the press conference held by the Russian Ministry of Defense four days after the tragedy have yet been anwered.

by: Ray Finch from: Lawrence, KS
December 26, 2014 15:09
Nice report, thanks. The media saturation within the Russian information space concerning this latest ‘revelation’ has been overwhelming. All of the major Russian TV, radio and newspapers have reported on this ‘amazing new development.’ And their 24/7 propaganda appears to be having the desired effect. A recent poll on the liberal radio station, Echo Moscow showed that even their audience now believed that the Ukrainians were responsible for this crime.
I fear that these contradictory convictions between Russia and the West could spark even greater tragedies.

by: Lode from: Holland
December 26, 2014 18:42
This explains it all:

"Svoboda nazi apologist quits party to become head of Security Service propaganda"
Comments page of 2

About #UkraineUnspun

The information war is in full swing in the tense standoff between Ukraine and Russia. In an attempt to present a clearer picture, #UkraineUnspun will unravel information coming from Russian and Ukrainian media, politicians and activists. Written by Glenn Kates and contributors from RFE/RL.

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