Moments ago a Malaysian BA 777 Passenger Jet Crashed in Ukraine. 280 passengers and 15 crew were killed. The plane was at an altitude of about 33,000 feet.
According to the Financial Times Anatoly Geraschenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said in a Facebook posting “Using a zenith-rocket Buk system, the terrorists just downed a passenger airline heading from Kuala-Lampur to Amsterdam“.
How likely is that statement?
Reader Jacob Dreizin, a US citizen who speaks Russian and reads Ukrainian, just pinged me with this comment.
The rebels have never claimed to have an air defense system with that kind of altitude capability. Neither have they been known to have shot down any Ukrainian military aircraft flying above 6000 meters. So we are talking some heavy duty weaponry here.
The only other civilian airliner to have been shot down over Ukrainian airspace was the Siberian Airlines flight from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk in 2001. Ultimately that was found to be the handiwork of a poorly-coordinated Ukrainian air defense exercise.
Kiev eventually paid out compensation to the victims’ families. So I would not be too surprised if the Ukranians “did it again.” But neither would I jump to conclusions.
Siberia Airlines Flight 1812
Please consider the fate of Siberia Airlines Flight 1812
Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 crashed over the Black Sea on 4 October 2001, en route from Tel Aviv, Israel to Novosibirsk, Russia. The plane, a Soviet-made Tupolev Tu-154, carried an estimated 66 passengers and 12 crew members. No one on board survived. The crash site is some 190 km west-southwest of the Black Sea resort of Sochi and 140 km north of the Turkish coastal town of Fatsa and 350 km east-southeast of Feodosiya, Ukraine.
Ukrainian military officials initially denied that their missile had brought down the plane. However, Ukrainian officials later admitted that it was indeed their military that shot down the airliner.
Did Ukraine Do It Again?
Like Jacob, I would not be surprised, especially given the rebels do not claim ownership of a missile system capable of hitting that altitude.
Repeating my earlier comments before I even heard from Jacob … “I do not know who is responsible, but it sure seems Ukrainian officials jumped to conclusions, especially since this was the second disaster this year to hit Malaysian Airlines.”
A shoulder fired missile cannot reach that altitude, but a Buk Missile System could.
The Buk missile system (Russian: “Бук”; beech, /bʊk/ BOOK) is a family of self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems developed by the former Soviet Union and Russian Federation and designed to engage cruise missiles, smart bombs, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
I am not stating Ukraine did this. I am merely asking a question, while pointing out the possibility, and noting they did it once before.
As of this moment, the rebels deny responsibility and never claimed ownership of medium range weapons capable of reaching that altitude.
Clarification From Jacob
The Ukrainians have previously claimed that one or perhaps two of their planes were shot down by the rebels at 6000 meters. To my knowledge, based on their various statements, the rebels have never admitted to shooting down anything over 2500 to 4000 meters (depending on who you listen to), nor have they boasted of that kind of capability.
Mish Comment: 4,000 meters is 13123.4 feet, a far cry from 33,000 feet altitude of passenger jets.
Update From Jacob
Another wrinkle: The Ukrainians had officially closed the airspace over Donetsk and Lugansk on July 8th. The airplane went down over this area.
Mish Comment: This is looking more and more like an “inside job” not the work of rebels or Russia as widely presumed. By “inside job” I mean either Ukraine or Malaysian pilot.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock