MH17 tragedy: 1 year on

Emergencies Ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash, MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014. The Malaysian airliner Flight MH-17 was brought down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 295 people aboard and sharply raising the stakes in a conflict between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels in which Russia and the West back opposing sides.    REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev (UKRAINE - Tags: TRANSPORT DISASTER POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3Z3QS

Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash, MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014. Credit: REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

At the first anniversary of the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines MH17 the international community is none the wiser about who shot it down and the weapon used. But the one thing we do know is the blame game continues.

The only official report we have from investigators to date was released last September (see MH17 – Preliminary report leaves most conspiracy theories intact). The final report will probably be released in October (see Investigations into MH17 crash expected to go on until year-end, says Najib).

But a draft of this final report is now in the hands of interested governments. This has resulted in speculation about its contents and stories which claim to be based on leaks. However, the Dutch investigators, have denied – or at least refused to confirm – the circulating stories.

As expected in the current geopolitical climate, the “blame Putin” propagandists are very active, although the stories seem to blame the “separatists” in eastern Ukraine, rather than the Russian Federation itself. For example, this from CNN:

“Dutch accident investigators say that evidence points to pro-Russian rebels as being responsible for shooting down MH-17, according to a source who has seen the report.

“According to the source”, the report says it was a Buk missile — a Russian surface-to-air missile — that was used, launched from a village in Russian rebel controlled territory.”

I am always suspicious of “according to a source” stories – they have so often proved to be no more than the reporter’s imagination.

Other reports do not point the finger but say the investigators now have a clear idea of what missile was used. A recent presentation from technical experts in the firm Almaz-Antey which manufactures missiles of the sort which may have been used shows what can be gleaned from the shrapnel fragments in the wreckage and the pattern of damage on the fuselage. Both in identifying the specific missile used (and, therefore, its possible owners) and its trajectory and launch site. This presentation is very technical and quite long but very interesting.

Although this presentation was aimed mainly at getting European sanctions on the company lifted by legal action, the material was also supplied to the Dutch Safety Board which is the official investigator of the causes of this tragedy.

Almaz-Antey’s conclusion is that, if a BUK missile was used, it was an older model no longer manufactured in the Russian Federation. The Ukrainian armed forces does have these  missile systems (see MH17 crash: ‘Old Buk missile used’ – Russian firm). Mind you, that does not prove who fired the missile because the armed forces in the Donbass region may have possessed one or more such systems captured from the Ukrainian armed forces. And may have trained Ukrainian operators who had defected to the rebels.

So, at this stage the real causes of this tragedy are still unknown. It looks like we will know something more definite in October. But the geopolitical propaganda struggle continues.

I suspect the rumours and unconfirmed stories attributing blame to the eastern Ukrainian rebels are nothing more than propaganda – precipitated by the fact of the anniversary of the tragedy.

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18 responses to “MH17 tragedy: 1 year on

  1. Ken: “Mind you, that does not prove who fired the missile because the armed forces in the Donbass region may have possessed one or more such systems captured from the Ukrainian armed forces.”
    ” On Wednesday the Donetsk National Council speaker Andrey Purgin told Interfax the Donetsk Peoples Republic weren’t in control of the territory near Torez in Donetsk Oblast where the plane crashed.”


  2. I don’t see the relevance of your comment, Brian. Surely the site the plane came down in is not evidence, by itself, of where the BUK system was based. The Ukrainian armed forces were known to have BUK systems within range and presumably if the rebels had a captured system it could also have been in range.



  3. The range of the old Buks and their radars does not seem great. Some 20 miles.

    And it seems in July that pro-Russian forces only held the city of Donetsk, not the surrounding region, and there would be a lot of witnesses for a Buk launched from a city.


  4. Trouble is, there don’t seem to be any witnesses for a BUK missile launch. And at this stage we still don’t know what sort of missile it is. I am assuming the October final report should at least clarify this from shrapnel and chemical analysis evidence. An air to air missile has not yet been ruled out either.

    It is very likely the USA has the evidence as they and a satellite overhead at the time. But they have consistently refused to provide any evidence. >


  5. Zaroshchens’ke, from where your video claims the launch must have been made, is a small rural settlement with houses surrounded by trees on Google earth. The expert said a trail might only last briefly. Because of its speed the missile would be out of sight in 4 seconds.

    ” This is not World War One with fixed lines of control. There is a patchwork of checkpoints and most fighting takes place in urban, populated areas. ”

    “On the other hand, given the (highly dubious) Ukrainian suggestion Russia was responsible for the bombing of Shizhne, it can be understood why Ukrainian military would have deployed BUKs in Zaroshchenske which is where Russian satellite imagery shows a group of BUK complexes, believed to belong to the 156th AA Missile Regiment, at 11.32 on the morning of the disaster.”


  6. Cedric Katesby, if you are reading, how about gracing us with your erudition once more, even your avatar has disappeared. Our loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ken: “It is very likely the USA has the evidence as they and a satellite overhead at the time. But they have consistently refused to provide any evidence.”

    About 28 mins into this John Kerry announces that USA detected a missile launch and the impact. (last August)


  8. John Kerry making a claim is not evidence. At the time there were reports of claims from within the intelligence community that they had monitored a missile launch from Ukrainian armed forces, or people wearing Ukrainian uniforms. I think they may have even claimed they were drunk. Of course Kerry did not refer to this.

    Unfortunately we must take into account the fact that politicians lie – and especially in the current geopolitical climate this whole incident is being used for political ends. Claims made by the USA and the Kiev regime are nothing more than that as nine of them present the evidence which must exist. The fact they don’t is certainly suspicious and one can’t help suspect that the evidence just doesn’t support their claims. More suspicious because their claims are so definite. The U.S. ambassador to the RF claims that they know for a fact. They have the evidence, but they will not provide the evidence.

    Claims by Kerry, Poroshenko and the Ukrainian Ministry of (dis)Information are definitely not evidence.



  9. Yes, Richard, I miss Cedric too.

    Someone using his name did appear for a while on a fluoride Facebook page (apparently arguing against fluoridation) but he didn’t last. He didn’t seem to be Cedric – not the correct style. He was from South Korea, though, as our Cedric is.



  10. “Unfortunately we must take into account the fact that politicians lie – and especially in the current geopolitical climate this whole incident is being used for political ends.”

    Also remembering the related sanctions are the cause of Russian retaliation- not buying milk products and the cause of many NZ dairy farms being lost to who knows.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for the invite but it’s not a good idea. I have no choice but to stay silent. I’ve reviewed our discussions many times and I don’t see how I could have done things any differently.
    Your methodology is flawed. You have done things for the M17 issue that you have never done for any other topic. You’ve changed.

    The report is going to be released and it’s going to go exactly as I expect.
    There’s no other viable option and there never was one to begin with.
    I tried to point that out.
    I really did.
    All of the important details were released within 24/48 hours of the disaster.
    The rest was just a big, steaming pile of RT.

    I was confident, given the amount of time and camaraderie we have shared on this blog, that it would be a simple matter to get you to listen to me honestly about…
    No. I’m not going down that road again. It’s too painful. It’s too disappointing. I’ve said what I’ve said and I stand by it.
    I’ll wait for your reaction to the final official report but I’m not hopeful that you will avoid the stereotypical response.
    If it’s alright, I’ll probably say a few words then.
    Or perhaps limit myself to a pithy Youtube clip. I’ve had one in mind for a long time.

    Oh and for the record, I have no idea who that strange person was that stole my nom de plume and went to the trouble of (and this is just a guess) using a VPN to pretend that he was based in S.K….just so he could be…anti-flouride against Ken(???)
    That’s a very confused person. Can’t imagine that it was worth the effort.
    Still, they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.



  12. This is the Cedric Katesby who was commenting on he Facebook page



  13. Propaganda has been made legal again, and maybe it will be more important than the truth from the point of view of the USA govt. John Kerry said about a year ago that social media were making it hard to “govern.”


  14. Well I’m really, and I mean really, disappointed that you won’t reconsider joining us sooner, Cedric,
    Go well, my friend, you’ve taught me an awful lot, I’m richer for it.


  15. Cedric, I respect your right not to participate in this discussion However I feel that the following claim you made should not stand alone:

    “The report is going to be released and it’s going to go exactly as I expect.
    There’s no other viable option and there never was one to begin with.”

    Unless you are one of the few investigation team members to receive a copy of the draft report, or possibly high in the government of one of the nations involved in the investgation, you cannot possible know what is in the report. The full investigation team will not know its contents until Augst 10 – and that will be secret. I can only assume that you have arrived at your claim as an artivle of faith and this is why you have been unable to convince others who have always asked for the evidence.

    Having followed information available on the tragedy over the last year I cannot say what the report will contain for sure. But given the available evidence, and particulalry the expert presentation for the Almaz-Antey firm which is an arms manufacturer, I think there are some things the report should be able to confirm:

    1: It should be able to decide between an air-to-air and a surface-to-air missile and possible identify the spoecific model from chemical and physical analyses of the missile fragments in the fuselage and bodies.

    2: This analysis should also enable to identfy the owner of the missile – particularly if it is a BUK missile. The chemical analysis should enable confirmaiton of the Almaz-Anty conclusions about the specific model, providing it is a BUK missile.

    3: If an air-to-air missile is identified this would limit the guilty party to either the Russian Federation or the Ukraine Governmenrt (Kiev). A specific model identification could possibly differentiate between the two.

    4: If a BUK missile is identified then the chemcial and physical analysis should identify the owner (either the Russian Federation or the Kiev regime). If the former this would support the claims that a BUK launcher was specifically transported from the Russian Federation. If the later this, by itself, would not differentiate bewtween the Dombass and Kiev authiorites. We know the Kiev regime had BUK systems and their is confusing evidence about the sate of any BUK system captured by the Dombass fighters.

    5: The Almaz-Anty presentation gave pretty convincing explanations for identification of a BUK missile trajectory and launch site. They in fact differentiated between two poossible launch sites. They have also offered to carry out a controlled missile attack on a redundant Boeing, under international supervision, to confirm their calculations.

    So, in conclusion, I think the report will probably decide between an air-to-air and surface-to-air missiole and probably also identfy a specific model, if it is a BUK. If this proves to be a missile used in Ukraine and not the RF this still leaves open the question of who lauched it – fighters friom the Donbass or from the Uklrainian armed forces. A calculated trajectory and launch site may help differentate between those two.

    Unfortunately, there is still then a possibility that geopolitics may infuemnce the final report. One rumour claims the report will say the missile was a BUK missile but that the forces who launched it cannot be identified (which seems a possible reasonable conclusion) But that the draft goes on, nnevertheless, to advance what it calls a “credible scenario” involving Dombass militia.

    I hope this is not true as such speculative and biased conclusions should not belong in this spoecific report. To be credible it must be free of such cold war rhetoric.


  16. David Fierstien

    I’m glad you are keeping this out there, Ken. But as I said before, I really wouldn’t want to speculate on anything until the Dutch report is released.


  17. I guess to speculate is human. But I don’t think this current blip in interest is speculation. I think the attribution to unnamed sources is just an old propaganda technique to invent a story. Or, in this case, represent an unsubstantiated claim made by politicians days after the tragedy.

    I agree, and have often said, that we should wait for the final report. But I guess, even then there is not going to be edfinitive or objectively convincing answer to many questions and the speculation will continue for those of us who lack political faith.


  18. David Fierstien

    Perhaps I should stand corrected. Your comments were more about media coverage than about finding fault.


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