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UPDATE: Ukrainian Intelligence on MH17 Shootdown

August 8, 2014

Yesterday, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) went public with explosive claims regarding the 17 July shootdown of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 near Donetsk. As I explained in detail, SBU head Valentyn Nalyvaychenko asserted that the Boeing 777 was shot down by a Russian-supplied “Buk” (SA-11) surface-to-air missile system, but in error: Moscow planned to down an Aeroflot plane that was nearby, in a false flag provocation to justify the Kremlin’s direct intervention in the war for eastern Ukraine, but in a tragic mistake the bumbling separatists downed the Malaysian airliner instead, killing 298 innocent people.

SBU evidence for this claim was relatively thin, compared to its past releases of sensitive intelligence about nefarious Russian activities in the country. I opined that there were several possible explanations for this, including that the SBU’s statements may not be based on any particular intelligence “smoking gun,” but rather might be derived from analysis of many sources, none of them conclusive when standing alone, but when taken together lead to an obvious analytic conclusion.

That seems to be the case, based on a follow-up briefing presented today by SBU deputy head Viktor Yahun and reported in the Kyiv daily UNIAN. Yahun restated his service’s belief that the Malaysian plane was brought down by the separatist-manned “Buk” by mistake, the intended target having been an Aeroflot jet, specifically AFL2074, that was carrying some 250 passengers. UNIAN has the rest of the story:

“It is based on local residents’ testimonies. They are ready to testify in court. There are people who are ready to testify, in particular, about the movement of the trailer with the ‘Buk’. There is the trailer owner’s testimony about the seizure of the trailer,” Yahun said.

Yahun added that all questions about the information on Russia’s plans to down the plane which was published by the SBU may be taken off the table only after all the people who had issued orders to use this surface-to-air missile complex are detained and questioned.

When asked where this surface-to-air missile system may be now, Yahun said: “There are clearly established facts that the ‘Buk’ was brought in and withdrawn from Ukraine at a certain time. I do not want to insinuate but I believe that the ‘Buk’ does not exist any longer.”

When asked if Russia had provided any response to the information the SBU made public yesterday, Yahun said: “No.”

It seems that the SBU is in possession of relevant information, including multi-eyewitness testimony, while the issue of whether Kyiv is holding prisoners or defectors from the Russian camp who can explain more of the tale remains open, based on Yahun’s coy statement. Given the SBU’s customary thoroughness in releasing intelligence to the public to back up its claims regarding Russian aggression against Ukraine, which I’ve reported many times, the absence of hard evidence here is surprising, particularly given the explosive nature of this claim. One can only assume that Kyiv is withholding certain evidence for operational and/or legal reasons. The SBU would be well advised to share as much as they feel able to while protecting sources and methods. Although Ukraine is at war and needs all the intelligence it can get, the important issue of what really happened to MH17 and why must be answered properly. Let Moscow deal in innuendo and lies, that is their niche, not Kyiv’s.

 

10 Comments
  1. WJM permalink

    One significant flaw in this, otherwise very well plausible, scenario:

    Why did the *seperatists* initially report the success of downing a military plane?
    One would think that they should have been sworn to more secrecy.
    Whether or not they themselves were at the button, vs even a single Russian specialist involved.

    Of course, any casus belli would do for Putin, but if I had to do it this way, I would have taken a bit more care to avoid a very nasty PR-boomerang.
    Of course2, that would have been ‘just’ an inland boomerang for Putemkin, not a foreign one like now with MH17.

    • You’re assuming Strelkov was in on the plot.

      • So random civilians in the area were in on it and able to supply evidence but not Strelkov…

      • WJM permalink

        Yes, I also hadn’t read the previous comments yet, belonging to the first/original (non-updated) article, sorry….;))

        That said, some things to ponder:

        Wouldn’t it have been much easier for Putin if he could have really blamed the Ukraine military?
        (thus needing to conceal any possible link to separatists *and* Russians)
        (having a crash site with Russian plane, the coverup of who launched which rocket would have been much easier)

        If Strelkov/Girkin wasn’t in on this, would he have been out of *all* knowledge & control, in both transport/deployment, place and time?
        (their first rebuttals, of not having such high-altitude weaponry, might confirm this)
        (forgot whether that dumbass geo-tagged ‘selfie’ of a Russian soldier confirmed anything likewise, being in a related vehicle?)

        Also makes you ponder about the separatist’s cry for more support more than a month ago, cq the reasons for not keeping supply up from Russia….perhaps first letting them starve, then feeding them with stuff they couldn’t handle….

        As a film-scenario, the mixing up of two towns/locations (for the BUK-unit) with the same name, scores high in my book of Murphian screw ups.
        (I can only imagine Putemkin grinding his teeth over this, when hearing such a subtle detail)

        (recently, I had the same puzzle with ‘Donetsk’….seems there is another town/city in the Rostov area (oblast?) with the same name, where currently the Ukrainian officers are held in custody, after fleeing over the border (72th Brigade))

        Also, I read that Strelkov/Girkin was more than just someone close to Putemkin….being both a buddy in time and place/career with him, including DDR-deployment during the Wende in 1989.
        (as for Putemkin in that time, I read two conflicting reports; one that he never did anything more useful than cutting articles from German newspapers (seems he himself is still obsessed with that same flow of info, now towards his own desk), another that he was the one barring access to the Russian building when DDR-activists demanded entry….the activists at gunpoint, that is)
        (after which Putemkin & Co had sufficient time to burn any incriminating documents)
        Not that Putemkin has or had any scrupules whatsoever regarding choosing his useful idiots….
        (seeing Strelkov/Girkin recently going bezerk with claims of male brothels run by Dutch/German/Danish troops he surely is loosing it, if he ever had any)

        Btw, one of the thesis in another of your articles, that there are quite a bunch of high-ranking separatists running around that should seriously fear for their lives, if things keep going as sour as they do now, them knowing way too much, starts making more and more sense also….
        One wonders if any of them is smart enough to seek refuge in the West, in time, and spill the beans….

        PS: any clue on the truth about that very recent attemt to get a concealed ‘Red Cross’ transport from Russia into Ukraine?

        Thusfar, I have been reading http://en.censor.net.ua/, at least for the most recent news, and rather moderate on propaganda, until their Aeroflot-mix-up story and Google led me to your site….:))

        Oh, and what about the thesis that it isn’t even Putemkin himself pulling all the strings, but the local Russian commanders doing their thing….not so much doing/actively, but condoning/passively, all the transports and border crossings?
        Thereby implying a very unhealty, if not downright scary animosity between politics and military, or better between secret service and military….
        Somehow, it might also explain *some* of the screw ups thusfar….too much condoning, not enough coordination, even less control….

        (darn, wanted to link to that article, but can’t find it anymore, no matter which combination of search words I use….)
        (although by doing a similar search in German, I also discovered another possible obscure detail from young Putemkin’s career in the DDR, Operation (Group/Gruppe) Lutsch, 1986-1989, including the plan to replace the DDR-goverment with something more Gorbatchow-style).

        Ah, darn, was looking for the English source, while it was actually Dutch:

        http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/11204/Meindert-Fennema/article/detail/3697388/2014/07/25/Beschouwt-de-Russische-legerleiding-Poetin-als-een-slapjanus.dhtml

        (‘Do Russian military leaders consider Putin as a whimp?’)

        PS, since you are also a historian, here a intriguing link between Chrutsjew, the Holodomor and giving away Crimea as a compensation for that (and not the political/economical argument of constructing a big dam on both territories at that time)….have searched the Net all over for more sources/confirmations back then, but didn’t succeed….even Chrutsjew’s son sticks to the political/economical story….

        http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/3184/opinie/article/detail/3635780/2014/04/15/Russen-houden-niet-van-de-geschiedenis-ze-houden-van-hun-Waarheid.dhtml

        (sorry, Dutch again, but it might just be one of your several language skills….;))

        (from Sana Valiulina, born in a Tatar-family in Estonia, living in Holland, having studied Scandinavian languages in Moscow, if I read her bio correctly in a few interviews)

  2. WJM permalink

    Oh well, forget about that Girkin/Putin link; they were born 18 years apart, and if there was any early link between them, then it would be the Chechen-casus-belli, blowing up that Russian appartment building.

    Which also reminded me that Putin is already 61 years old.
    (although Mugabe is like what, 83?)
    Not that much time to plan a proper retirement scheme anyway.
    (that’s the trouble with all dictators, you can’t leave your seat, at least not for long, at least not alive, *and* with any wealth….not with corruption of this dazzling magnitude….)

  3. phil permalink

    1 thing that stands out to me is, how would russia benefit in any way shooting that plane down, cos economic sanctions doesnt benefit them whatsoever, who ever shot the plane down would stand to benefit in some way you would think, and whos benefiting the most right now is the ukraine. not russia

  4. I tend to agree – for example how Hitler benefit from WWII?

    that Is Proof he not start it

  5. Tim Behan permalink

    Lets be reasonably honest here, Russia is the only obstacle left to total world domination by the Neocon New World Order. Russia is a superpower America is a Superpower. America has to talk to Putin in a civilized manner and deal with all the worlds conflicts.

    No country has the right to dominate another.

    Wo world powers.
    One world order.

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