Ukraine is making a lot of hay out of videos showing rebels cheering the downed plane. For example the Daily Mail proclaims, with videos ‘That was a blast – look at the smoke’: Sick boast of the laughing rebels.

No doubt the rebels were pleased at the time with what they thought was a downed Ukrainian aircraft. But does that mean they fired the missile?

Reader Jacob Dreizin, a US citizen who speaks Russian and reads Ukrainian, points out the rebels claimed to have downed an An-26 roughly two hours before the first reports of the Malaysian 777 being missing.

Still More Confusion

Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Vitaly Yarema stated that Militias Do Not Have Ukrainian Buk Missile System.

KIEV, July 18. /ITAR-TASS/. Militias in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics do not have Ukrainian air defense missile systems Buk and S-300 at their disposal, Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Vitaly Yarema told Ukrainian Pravda newspaper on Friday.

“After the passenger airliner was downed, the military reported to the president that terrorists do not have our air defense missile systems Buk and S-300,” the general prosecutor said. “These weapons were not seized,” he added.

Is that an attempt to blame Russia?

From Jacob Dreizin …

Interestingly, the original source for the quote in the above article, Ukraine’s Pravda (a generally respectable paper, not a blog like it’s Russian counterpart), has published photos from Ukraine’s infamous, oft-cited “Information Resistance” blog (the one that claims that 200, 500, or 1000 rebels get killed every day) allegedly showing a rebel Buk system on the move. [See Link Below]

However, if you scroll down, you can see that another vehicle in the convoy (the second photo) is not something in the Russian arsenal. The picture is blurry, but this is clearly not a Russian/Soviet BTR of any sort. Based on the wheel configuration, it appears to be some kind of European-model personnel carrier.

(Yes it is a 6-by-6, but with the high front profile it cannot be a BTR-152, which was in any case removed from Russian service long ago)

Is Ukraine’s propaganda arm is showing photos of a Ukrainian convoy and claiming it is a rebel convoy? Were these pictures even taken in Ukraine? The ground looks dry and the vegetation is low and stubby, like in the Middle East.

Network has Photos of Militants on Carrying “Buk”

Here is a link to the translated article Dreizin mentioned: Network has Photos of Militants on Carrying “Buk”.

Ukrainian Radar Activity on Day of Plane Crash

Here is another interesting angle: Russian Defense Ministry Says Intercepted Ukrainian Radar Activity on Day of Plane Crash.

MOSCOW, July 18 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Defense Ministry says it had intercepted the activity of a Ukrainian radar system on the day the Malaysian plane went down in eastern Ukraine, the ministry’s press service said Friday.

“Throughout the day on July 17, Russian means of radar surveillance intercepted the operation of the Buk-M1 battery’s Kupol radar station located in the region of the populated area of Styla [30 kilometers south of Donetsk],” the press service said in a statement.

“The technical capabilities of the Buk-M1 allow the exchange of data on air targets between batteries of one battalion. Thus, the launch of rockets could have also occurred from any of the batteries deployed in the populated area of Avdeevka [8 kilometers north of Donetsk] or from Gruzsko-Zoryanskoe [25 kilometers east of Donetsk],” the ministry said.

Of course, even if that is accurate, it does not mean Ukraine fired the missile.

Finally, the Wall Street Journal reports U.S.: Evidence Points Toward Separatists in Missile That Downed Airliner.

The U.S. now believes that pro-Russian separatists were responsible for firing the missile that downed a Malaysia Airlines  jetliner, a Defense official said Friday.

Officials in Washington also confirmed that the missile was fired from a Russian-made SA-11, or Buk, system, the Defense official said. The official cautioned on both findings that a U.S. probe isn’t complete and investigators and analysts are still sifting the circumstances surrounding and leading up to the firing of the missile.

Another U.S. official said there are “indicators” that Russian separatists fired the SA-11 that took down the plane, but that officials have not reached a definitive conclusion.

“There are still a lot of questions,” the official said.

Most notably, Americans want to know who was at the launch site when the missile was launched. Officials are keen to try and learn if Russian forces were present. The U.S. official said the missile was fired from “the border region” but declined to give a more precise location.

Still a Lot of Questions

“Still a lot of questions” accurately sums up both sides of the story. Yet, every day I receive emails from people 100% certain Russia is responsible, 100% certain the rebels are responsible, 100% certain the rebels did it with assistance from Russian personnel.

The only answer that would shock me would be that Russia acted alone. Evidence strongly suggests the missile came from Ukraine. And regardless of who claimed to have done it, the important question is who did it?

Whoever is responsible wants to make it look like someone else fired the shot. I still lean towards Kiev, but I could be wrong.

Either way, I am not jumping to specific conclusions as both sides are clearly not telling the truth about everything.

Update – No Smoking Gun

Just in From Jacob Dreizin

Hello Mish

Very interesting story from the “information war”: You’ve heard of the alleged Ukrainian “phone tap” recording in which rebels and Russian officers discussed the downing of an unspecified airplane (allegedly the Malaysian 777.) This alleged recording is mentioned in the New York Times and many other U.S. outlets, being offered as potential proof of guilt.

That recording is a compilation of two different conversations. The first conversation is allegedly between a rebel commander and his Russian handler. The rebel commander claims his people downed an unspecified aircraft. There is no reference within the conversation itself as to the time or date.

In the second conversation, two men are talking about the wreckage of a civilian aircraft (one of them is apparently on the scene.) There is no evidence within the second conversation to indicate that the speakers had anything to do with it, or that they are even involved in the war at all.

So, if this is the “smoking gun”, then the Ukrainians need to go back to the drawing board. And the New York Times needs to get a grip.

Another twist: Several Russian-language media sources are claiming that the earliest extant Youtube version of the file (as shown by drilling down into its details, properties, source code, or whatever) was uploaded at 19:07:49 hours on 7/16/2014. Even accounting for the time difference between the U.S. (where YouTube is based) and east Ukraine, that is quite some time before the plane went down.

I’m just passing on what I’ve read. There may be something wrong with YouTube’s time-stamping. I don’t know.

Anyone who is 100% certain about this (other than the persons directly responsible) is fooling themselves, even if they get the call right.


Jacob Dreizin previously stated “Based on the wheel configuration, it appears to be some kind of European-model personnel carrier.” Upon further review of the images, Dreizin now believes the carrier is a souped-up cargo truck.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock