Some of the MH17 shrapnel-riddled fuselage
OK, how many versions of the “it wasn’t us” MH17 shootdown story will the Russian propaganda machine churn out? There are probably over 10 of them now, and all are simply lies. It would seem that if there was any evidence the Russians had that would show someone other than they themselves were behind it, they would stick to a single story. This is, of course, not a country with a free media that puts out whatever it wants, but one where all state media (like ORT, Rossiya, NTV, RIA-Novosti, RT, etc) are all putting out state propaganda and most of these are under the control of Dmirty Kiselev, Putin’s propaganda ‘minister.” Russia’s propaganda line is naturally also being put out by the Foreign Ministry (including its henchman in New York, Ambassador Vitaliy Churkin) and the Ministry of Defense, which had a huge press conference earlier this week. But all versions are different–many very different, and many mutually exclusive–and contain nothing factual. But maybe they want it this way, since idiots around the world, and the bulk of the Russian populace, will eat up any garbage served to them and will remember in the back of their minds days or weeks later that “I heard something like this on the news.” Like all Russian propaganda, there are no facts, the information is all contradictory, but those who do not check basic facts lap it up. Their main line is simply that the Ukrainians and US are lying, yet they provide no basis for this or their own facts.
Some of the main versions to date:
Zombie flight. Put out by COL Girkin (Strelkov) based on info from his guys on the scene. Victim’s already dead before the flight and bodies drained of blood. Malaysian Airlines and its pilots obviously working with CIA and Ukrainian government and committed suicide by flying into an area where they knew they would be shot down by either an air defense missile, or Su-27 fighters, or Su-25 ground attack airplanes, or something. This is the sickest version and a slap in the face of the victims and their families–many of whom saw their loved ones off at Schipol Airport and know they were quite alive.
COL Strelkov on dead passenger flight
Russian MOD version. The main briefing given by the Russian Ministry of Defense earlier this week, on 21 July, concentrated on the “fact” that a Ukrainian Su-25 FROGFOOT shot it down. This would be an odd choice for airframe, since the Su-25 only has a service ceiling is only 7,000 meters—without weapons—vice 10,000 meters where the Malaysian Airlines plane was flying. The Su-25 is a “shturmovik”—a ground attack (close air support) aircraft meant to attack things on the ground. It is not a fighter plane or interceptor, which is what would be used to shoot down another plane. Does the Russian MOD, which put this out in a briefing, really not know anything about the capabilities of its different types of planes, or does it just count on the Russian people and a certain percentage of foreigners being plain stupid and unwilling to check facts? Interestingly, the Chief of Staff of the Russian Air Force, General-Lieutenant Igor Makushev, is the one who made some of these claims. The briefers noted that the Su-25 can fly “for short periods” up to 10,000 meters, which is something it cannot even do with no stores hanging from its wings. They also either were trying to add another element quietly, by putting a picture of a USAF EF-111 Raven electronic countermeasures aircraft on their briefing graphics where they marked Su-25. Maybe suggesting that the US had a role in it somehow, though the last EF-111 was laid to rest from service in 1998. Maybe the Russian Air Force just did not happen to have a graphic of an Su-25—one of their own planes—since they also showed MH17 with a picture of a Boeing 707, vice the twin engine 777. Pure lies as usual.
Russian MOD photo briefing handouts 21 July
Interestingly, in their briefing, they showed radar tracks of MH17 and a couple of other airliners flying in the same general area of Ukraine, but no tracks of other (alleged fighter) aircraft were seen, though at the time when the flight was shot down, and debris gave multiple radar returns, the briefers focused on the small rotating circle of what was left of the flight, noting that the turns were so tight it could only have been a military aircraft. They just blew the plane out of the sky and apparently the main portion of it was in a very tight and presumably uncontrollable spin, yet they did not choose to note this fact, instead claiming it was a Ukrainian Su-25! It is notable that once the broken up 777 vanished from the radar, the phantom Su-25 that supposedly shot it down was nowhere to be seen. Not only must it have been an incredible modification for the altitude it allegedly operated at, but it must have been stealth as well.
During their briefing, they kept showing satellite reconnaissance photos they took of what they say were Ukrainian SA-11 vehicles near the shootdown site. This is interesting in that the photos they showed seem as fake as the doctored ones they showed back a few months ago about allegedly large groupings of Ukrainian vehicles in farms near Slovyansk ready to assault the city (which never happened of course). Those photos had been doctored, as large numbers of armored vehicles on them displayed no marks from the vehicle tracks (so they must have been dropped there by magic), even as cars there clearly made tire tracks. Fake then and fake now. This time they showed pictures taken multiple times per day. This is pretty good for a country that has few imagery satellites on orbit and most of those still are film return ones vice electro-optical. Given that a satellite might be in a position to shoot this site once a day, and they displayed multiple images (all cloud free) on single days, this is clearly bogus. I have lots of personal experience with US systems, and can attest to the fact that getting this kind of coverage, particularly with Russia’s systems, is fantasy. As for the Russian MOD demanding to see the US photos that showed the Russian’s fired the missile, they know damn well that this is based on infrared launch detection coverage, which means all you will get is a graph that means nothing to most anyone. Naturally they will say it is fake anyhow, so what’s the use. It is all quite real though.
SA-11 BUK in Torez 17 July on lowboy truck
Variation of the Su-25 fable. There have been attempts to show that the Su-25 vanished because it in turn was shot down by some meant (unspecified). There are some who think that the Russians, since they have been removing wreckage from the crash site, might also salt some pieces of some of the Su-25s they have shot down to give credence to this story, though it would be laughable that two planes falling from 33,000 feet would crash in the same place.
RT and the elusive Spanish air traffic controller. Since just after the shootdown, a version has been promulgated by the Russians, mainly through their RT worldwide propaganda outlet posing as a legitimate news service, and then as usual put out again and again by Kremlin trolls and blogs/websites catering to Western light-minded conspiracy theorists with an anti-Western bent. RT’s roving correspondent, Pepe Escobar, who is nothing but a Russian cheerleader who disparages everything else, highlighted the story of a shadowy alleged Spanish air traffic controller working in Kyiv. This Carlos allegedly tweeted right after the shootdown (though this is nothing definite since his account has been closed—if it ever was) that it was a case of a couple of Ukrainian fighters trailing the 777, though they did not shoot it down—a ground missile did. Now, how he knew this, since the Russian MOD radar picture shown on 21 July did not indicate any other aircraft on that track, is a mystery. Actually not a mystery, since it is all fake, along with this Carlos. He supposedly had received death threats along with his family in May and an arrest warrant was issued for him, for whatever reason, and returned to Spain, but then showed up in the control tower again just before the shootdoawn on 17 July. For whatever reason, he was allowed back in there. Not only this, but other foreign air traffic controllers, even though Ukrainian law requires all ATC personnel to be Ukrainians. Allegedly, according to his phantom tweets, fight after the shootdown, where they saw two Ukrainian military planes shadowing the 777, the Ukrainian military told him that it had been shot down by them, but they were all relieved of duty. He allegedly continued tweeting like crazy. Some of his alleged tweets on 17 July:
“The B777 was escorted by 2 Ukrainian fighter jets minutes before disappearing from radar (17.48pm)”
“If the Kiev authorities want to admit the truth 2 fighter jets were flying very close a few minutes before the incident but did not shoot down the airliner (17.54)”
“As soon as the Malaysia Airlines B777 disappeared the Kiev military authority informed us of the shooting down. How did they know? (18.00)”
“Everything has been recorded on radar. For those that don’t believe it, it was taken down by Kiev; we know that here (in traffic control) and the military air traffic control know it too (19.14)”
“The Ministry of the Interior did know that there were fighter aircraft in the area, but the Ministry of Defense didn’t. (19.15)”
“The military confirm that it was Ukraine, but it is not known where the order came from. (19.31)”
This is obvious nonsense on so many levels, not least because the Interior Ministry does not control any air defense assets. No radar tracks showed accompanying fighters during the Russian MOD presentation, foreigners cannot be air traffic controllers in Ukraine, and how is it that this Carlos have gotten back into the tower when he was supposedly under an arrest warrant and threats.
RT propaganda piece on shootdown
Investigative website debunks Spanish ATC idea
Vesti newscast: two versions in less than one hour. Actually last Sunday night there was no weekly Dmitry Kiselev propaganda show—his usual Vesti Nedeli, but rather, one of his assistants got to take the heat by hosting a regular extended version of the Vesti “news” show, all dedicated as usual to Ukraine bashing. This time focused mainly on the airline. It spent a considerable amount of time building up the story that the Ukrainians actually had a couple of SA-11 BUK launchers in the area of Donetsk—one to the north and another to the east, to insinuate that the Ukrainians shot it down. They interviewed one of the chief constructors of the BUK who confirmed that the “separatists” could not have used such equipment, since it takes many months to train crew and a commander requires five years to become proficient. Our point exactly to show that this was not “Joe-6-Pack” locals who found one, but a professional Russian military crew, though their contention was that it was a Ukrainian military crew. But they provided no proof of course—just SA-11 silhouettes put over a map. But just after this, the same show interviewed some Russian aviation experts, including the former commander of the Russian Air Force, who all agreed that based on some of the damage seen on some of the fuselage panels in pictures, this could not have been from an SA-11, but was consistent with an air-to-air missile. They mentioned, again with no proof, that military planes had been with the airliner and shot it down. So, after building the case for a Ukrainian SA-11 for over 20 minutes, they totally contradicted themselves and said it was an air-to-air shootdown.
Putin the target of the evil Ukrainians. This version was actually quickly put out by RT within hours of the shootdown, with it quoting Interfax which in turn quoted an anonymous source, who said Putin’s plane, returning from South America, was possibly confused with the Malaysian flight, and the latter was shot down by the Ukrainians instead. They nots both were in the Warsaw air traffic control zone. Indeed they were, but nearly an hour apart, and Putin’s flew on over Belarus to Russia instead of Ukrainian airspace where his plane is probably not welcome.
First version–Putin’s plane as target
“Vostok Battalion” Commander says Russian SA-11 did it. Aleksandr Khodakovsky, commander of a group of Russian government mercenaries and a few locals who call themselves the Vostok Battalion (confused often with a mainly Chechen battalion of the same name that featured prominently in the 2008 Georgia war, which has also been involved in its new form in eastern Ukraine), said in a Reuters interview on 23 July that he knew a BUK had come down from Luhansk to the Snizhne area that day and fired, and then was hastily withdrawn once it became clear what had happened. He went on to say that it was all Ukraine’s fault for having planes flying against targets in the area. However, ground attack planes, which fly very low, cannot be confused with a high flying airliner, and the SA-11 is intended for use against medium-to-high-altitude targets, and would have little utility against an Su-25 flying at only a few hundred meters. In any case, it was nice of his to have confirmed there was a Russian SA-11 there that did down the 777. He later tried to say he never said anything of the sort, though the entire interview was recorded.
Reuters interview of East Bn commander admitting Russian SA-11 shot 777
Churkin spinning. Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vitaliy Churkin, was doing his usual bit, which has probably kept him employed there for so many years. On 22 July, as always, he just denied everything. According to him, the video of the SA-11 returning to Russia was actually made on Kyiv-controlled territory (without any further information), and the recordings of Russians and pro-Russian fighters talking about the accidental shootdown were fake (again, with no elaboration or proof). Russian way is to just deny everything despite evidence slapping you in the face.
Ukraine violating ICAO rules. Russia’s RIA-Novosti is just now saying as of 24 July that Ukraine is at fault for not fulfilling requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization by having an ongoing war and not coordinating safe passage for a flight overflying it. This is pure garbage, since there are about 300 airlines flying over that area daily (three at once when MH17 was shot down), and the flight had filed the appropriate flight plans and was in the process of being handed off from Ukrainian to Russian air traffic controllers. Some point out that for some reason the 777 was flying hundreds of kilometers north of where it normally did, though no evidence of this has been provided, and even if so, air traffic control allocates flight levels and tracks to planes that are not always the same places they fly on a particular day. On this note, the Russian-proposed theories put out by their Active Measures minions, saying that Ukraine has been escorting all airliners with fighters, is too stupid for words. The cash-strapped Ukrainian military, which is in a war for the country’s existence, is not going to waste valuable pilot time, fuel, and wear on the aircraft by escorting the hundreds of airliners in its airspace every day. No country does that. None can do that. And it provided no benefit whatsoever.
RIA-Novosti says Ukraine disregarded responsibilities
As this gets more ridiculous, Russian propaganda network RT has lost another reporter, as London-based Sara Firth resigned, saying this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She said they were producing misinformation on it with alleged eyewitness accounts and bogus analysis, and found it impossible to defend it anymore. She noted there was a main RT rule: Russia is right and Ukraine is always wrong. Facts irrelevant.
RT London correspondent resigns over MH17 coverage
What is clear is that the Russians on the scene have been doing their best to cover up certain evidence. For days, OSCE teams (which Russia has so publicly invited to continue their work in eastern Ukraine, even as several teams have been held hostage by the Russians there) were turned back by armed thugs, and international investigators were finally allowed initially only limited access for a short time. Reports are that about 30 bodies were brought to the morgue in Donetsk, as some were missing from the trains where they were finally loaded. Speculation is that these were the ones with shrapnel wounds that would show it was from an SA-11 warhead, but there is no hard evidence of the whereabouts of the missing bodies. Then there is the gross manipulation of the crash scene, which goes against all rules of air crash investigations, which call for the pieces, as much as possible, to be left in their positions. Not only have they been cut up, but large pieces have been carried away at night to unknown locations. These, again, are probably the parts that had the most significant shrapnel damage and would give ready clues about the system employed. Indeed, even the pieces of the warhead, which already would give indications of the weapon employed, will also have residue of the explosive, which would point to a specific weapon.
Russia is putting out so many versions likely to plant multiple seeds of doubt about the shootdown. To any thinking person, however, what it actually does is show their guilt, since it shows they are clearly grasping at straws to show it was anybody but them, despite the overwhelming evidence from radar tracks, radar illuminations, infrared detection from satellites, all correlating with the photos and videos of an SA-11 TELAR in Torez in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine prior to and after the shootdown, that it was indeed a Russian-controlled SA-11 TELAR that fired the shot. Who precisely was crewing it is not known, though it had to have been a crew of well-trained professionals, given the complexity of the system.
US Space Command on evidence of Russian BUK firing