MH17: New Russian Data Sparks Controversy

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New Information from Defense Ministry on MH17 Increases Confusion
By Nikolai Litovkin

Russia Beyond the Headlines
September 28, 2016
Posted with Conclusion by Quemado Institute
October 1, 2016

Russia's Ministry of Defence and defence industry representatives at press briefing on raw radar data discovered at crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, Sept. 26, 2016. (--Sergei Bobylev/Russian Defence Ministry/TASS)

Russia’s Ministry of Defence and defence industry representatives at a press briefing on raw radar data discovered at crash site of Flight MH17, Sept. 26, 2016. (–Sergei Bobylev/Russian Defence Ministry/TASS)

Russian military officials have offered new information about the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over the breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine in July 2014, but the data does little to clarify the situation ahead of the release of a Joint Investigation Team report.

The Russian military says it did not observe the flight of a missile from a Buk-M1 air defense missile system (ADMS) from the rebel-held regions of eastern Ukraine in the direction of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014, according to statements made by Andrei Koban, the commander of Russia’s Aerospace Forces’ Radio Engineering Troops, on Sept. 26.

According to newly released data, which was taken from Russian radar stations on the border with Ukraine, as well as information received by Russia’s armed forces from the leadership of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (the DNR and LNR), the objects observed by Russian radar in the sky that night in addition to the Malaysian aircraft were two civilian airliners and an Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicle, which was made of composite materials and was about 6 feet long.

“In comparison, the missile of the Buk air defense system has a length of more than 5.5 meters [18 feet], a diameter of 0.4 meters [1.3 feet] and a wingspan of about 1 meter [3 feet]. The missile is made of metal, has a large, efficient reflective surface in comparison with the unmanned aerial vehicle and is a target, which is easier to be detected by radar,” Koban said.

The general also said that Russian technology does not show areas to the west of the Malaysian aircraft, and that satellite images from the United States and Ukraine could help determine if a missile was launched from the Buk-M1 air-defense system, but both countries have refused to release their data.

His comments followed statements by Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov on Sept. 25 that Ukraine was holding back the investigation.

“Kiev has not released information until today about the location of its Buk-M1 defense systems on the day of the disaster, dispatch calls, primarily military ones, the data on activity of its radars on the day of the catastrophe, on the operation of the Ukrainian air defense systems and witnesses’ evidence,” Konashenkov said.

Conflicting information

The new statements contradict information the ministry released two years ago, said Alexander Khramchikhin, deputy director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis, in an interview with RBTH.

In 2014, the Russian military claimed, citing intelligence data, that they detected a Su-25 attack aircraft, whose armament includes R-60 “air-to-air” missiles, 5 km from flight MH17. Later, Russian investigators said that they had received the testimony of a Ukrainian pilot, who confirmed the involvement of a combat aircraft in the crash.

More confusion

According to Khramchihin, the newly released data, like the previously released data, does little to clarify the situation. “Anyone familiar with the performance characteristics of the Su-25 and Boeing 777 knows that the two aircraft were unable to cross in the air,” Khramchihin said. “The attack aircraft does not rise to the height of 10,000 meters and does not fly at the speed of a civilian liner.”

He added that new information claiming that Russian radars could not detect a missile from the Buk-M1 air defense system if it was launched on the Ukrainian side has also raised more questions.

“The Buk’s firing range is about 30 km [18 miles],” Khramchihin said. “There is no difference on which side of the aircraft a missile was launched — from the side of the militia or the units of Ukraine’s armed forces. The distance is too small, and all can be detected by radars.”

Investigation drawing to a close

On Sept. 28, the Joint Investigation Team led by the Netherlands announced the findings of its conclusive report on the weapon that was used to take down MH17, attributing the disaster to a missile fired from separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine. According to Khramchikhin, the publication of the Defense Ministry’s new data is related to the report’s release.

Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of the Natsionalnaya Oborona (National Defense) magazine, told RBTH that any new data presented by the Defense Ministry must be examined by the investigation team before the publication of the results, although the investigators have yet to obtain the recordings of conversations between air traffic control at the Dnipropetrovsk airport and MH17. “These documents were seized by Ukraine’s Security Service and were not transferred to Dutch experts for analysis,” he stressed.

The report is expected to lead to the eventual identification and prosecution of those responsible for the disaster.

[Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down on July 17, 2014 over the Donetsk Region of eastern Ukraine. All 283 passengers and 15 crew members on the flight were killed.]

Quemado Institute Conclusion

The new Russian data contradicts previous evidence that one or more Ukrainian fighter jets were flying in the vicinity of the Boeing 777 at the time of the crash. The above article states: “In 2014, the Russian military claimed, citing intelligence data, that they detected a Su-25 attack aircraft, whose armament includes R-60 ‘air-to-air’ missiles, 5 km from flight MH17. Later, Russian investigators said that they had received the testimony of a Ukrainian pilot, who confirmed the involvement of a combat aircraft in the crash.”

In addition to these reports, there were many eyewitnesses who saw one or more figher jets near the MH17 at the time of the shootdown. Donetsk People’s Republic President Alexander Zakharchenko was among them, as he has described in detail in video interview. Also, the nearest Russian air control tower reported at the time that at least one fighter jet was seen within 3 km of the airliner.

There is also a large body of technical evidence pointing to a shootdown by a fighter jet,  such as an absence of bow-tie shaped BUK missile fragments in the wreckage, and the perfectly round 30mm holes in the Boeing fuselage.

As Michel Chossudovksy, chief editor of Global Research and professor at the University of Ottawa, said in an article posted September 28, 2016: “According to the report of German pilot and airlines expert Peter Haisenko, the MH17 Boeing 777 was not brought down by a missile. What he observed from the available photos were perforations of the cockpit: ‘The facts speak clear and loud and are beyond the realm of speculation: The cockpit shows traces of shelling! You can see the entry and exit holes. The edge of a portion of the holes is bent inwards. These are the smaller holes, round and clean, showing the entry points most likely that of a 30 millimeter caliber projectile.’ (Revelations of German Pilot: Shocking Analysis of the ‘Shooting Down’ of Malaysian MH17. ‘Aircraft Was Not Hit by a Missile’ Global Research, July 30, 2014)”

The initial Dutch Safety Board report on the cause of the crash (October 2015) fell far short of proving, or even producing clear evidence, that the 777 was downed by a BUK missile. There are many additional reasons to doubt the BUK hypothesis, as explained in our paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of the first Dutch report Quemado Institute Rebuttal: MH17 Dutch Investigation Weak, Inconclusive (October 16, 2015) by Kennedy Applebaum.

Questions remain:

  • What is the truth about this new Russian data?
  • Is the new data accurate?
  • Why does the data not show the presence of fighter jets?
  • Was the data doctored to pander to the Dutch in their dubious contention of Buk missile involvement, while plausibly absolving Russia and the separatists of guilt?

We are fairly sure that, given the full body of new evidence as well as detailed information on the circumstances of its discovery, we could demonstrate that the BUK scenario remains unlikely, just as we demonstrated this after the release of the Phase I Dutch investigation report, in which they falsely claimed to have “proven” the plane was downed by a BUK missile.





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