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Tuesday, October 13, 2015 10:21 AM

Dutch Report Concludes MH17 Shot Down by Ground-to-Air BUK Missile; Puzzle Still Missing Pieces

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The Dutch investigation into flight MH17, a shot down over Ukraine officially concluded today. The Official Report Confirms MH17 Shot Down by Missile.

Dutch officials have confirmed that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was brought down by a missile and criticised Ukraine for not closing its airspace over its eastern regions despite the conflict, in the first official investigation findings into the crash that killed 298 people in July last year.

The year-long investigation determined that MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made Buk anti-aircraft missile but did not seek to establish who fired it because this was not part of its mandate. “Flight MH17 crashed as the result of detonation of [a] warhead outside the airplane,” said Mr Joustra, who chaired the investigation.

Kiev and its western allies blame Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists, while Russia has insisted it was the Ukrainian armed forces.

Earlier on Tuesday, Moscow gave its own version of events, which implicated Ukrainian troops on the frontline.

Yan Novikov, general director of the Russian state arms producer Almaz-Antey, which manufactures the Buk system, said experiments carried out by the company proved initial findings presented in June. These included evidence that the Buk M1 missile that brought down MH17 was fired not from the village of Snizhne that was controlled by pro-Russian rebels but from nearby Zaroshchenske.

There is a difference of opinion over who controlled Zaroshchenske at the time, with the Russian military claiming it was in the hands of the Ukrainian military while Kiev insists it was held by Russian-backed rebels. Mr Novikov declined to comment on who was in control when the plane crashed.

But he said tests had confirmed that the missile that brought down MH17 was an old model, the 9M38, which was first manufactured in the Soviet Union in 1986 and decommissioned by the Russian army in 2011. The statement implied that the missile complex could not have come from Russia.

The Dutch Safety Board report will not directly address the issue of who was responsible for the MH17 disaster. A separate Dutch-led criminal investigation is continuing.

In July, Russia vetoed a draft resolution at the UN Security Council to set up an international tribunal into the disaster.

The type of BUK cannot determine whether the rebels or the Ukrainian troops fired the missile, but it does seem to rule out Russia directly.

The Guardian provides this interesting snip from the report:
“The damage observed on the wreckage is not consistent with the damage caused by the warhead of an air-to-air missile in use in the region in amount of damage, type of damage and type of fragments. The high-energy object damage on the wreckage of flight MH17 is therefore not caused by an air-to-air missile.”

“Of the investigated warheads only the 9N314M contains the unique bowtie shaped fragments found in the wreckage. The damage observed on the wreckage in amount of damage, type of damage, boundary and impact angles of damage, number and density of hits, size of penetrations and bowtie fragments found in the wreckage, is consistent with the damage caused by the 9N314M warhead used in the 9M38 and 9M38M1 BUK surface-to-air missile.”
The idea that Russia itself was responsible always seemed silly, at least to me. And evidence was clearly doctored to point the finger at the rebels. But that still does not mean the rebels did not launch the BUK.

Flight Path

Russia could have and should have closed down that airspace. But so could have Ukraine.

And countries may also have wisely decided on their own accord it does not make sense to fly over a war zone.


Mistakes are not grounds for a tribunal. The US never faced tribunals when it accidentally shot down planes.

On the other hand, if Kiev purposely directed MH17 into an area where rebels might make a mistake, that would be another indeed.

Missing Pieces

We are one step closer to understanding what happened.

But where are all the recordings in the black box that show why MH17 was at an altitude that could be hit by a BUK?

It was Kiev that would have benefited from a purposeful rebel mistake, not the rebels.

Lots of questions remain, even if the Rebels fired the BUK.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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