As I suspected would happen, the exclusive Reuters interview in which “Commander Alexander Khodakovsky acknowledges rebel fighters had BUK missiles” has been challenged.

In my analysis of the Reuters article (see Ukraine Rebel Commander Admits Having BUK Missiles; Damning Contradictions?),  I point out considerable discrepancies in what Reuters author Anton Zverev wrote and actual quotes Reuters presented.

The discrepancies were so big I stated “It appears to me Reuters may have stretched this interview quite a bit.

Thus I am not surprised to discover Khodakovsky challenged huge aspects of that interview, in terms of things he stated, did not state, and even timing of events.

Reader Jacob Dreizin, a US citizen who speaks Russian and reads Ukrainian provides this translation from the Ria.Ru post “Khodakovsky Denies Talking About Buks

“Мы рассуждали о версиях но через все это красной линией проходила одна простая фраза, что я не располагаю сведениями о наличии у ополченцев подобного рода оружия”, — заявил Александр Ходаковский в интервью телеканалу Russia Today.

“We discussed versions [different possibilities]… But through all of that, there ran a red line with one simple phrase:  That I don’t have information on the presence of that type of weapon amongst the militia” declared Aleksandr Khodakovsky in an interview with the TV channel Russia Today.

Кроме того, он заявил телеканалу RT, что у него есть видеозапись интервью, которую он со своей стороны может предоставить, чтобы доказать, что не говорил агентству о наличии ЗРК у ополчения.

Additionally, he told the TV channel RT that he has a video recording of the interview which he can present from his end, in order to prove that he did not speak to the agency [Reuters] about the presence of air defense systems amongst the militia.

Что касается выложенных в интернет записей, где ополченцы якобы обсуждают наличие у них “Бука”, то “эти записи датируются днем ранее до трагедии”.

As far as the recordings presented on the internet, in which the militiamen supposedly discuss their possession of a “Buk”, “These recordings are dated one day prior to the tragedy.”

Пересказав обвинения Киева в адрес ополченцев, что у них есть “Буки”, Ходаковский не подтверждает и не опровергает их. Он лишь отмечает, что если до катастрофы Киев знал, что у ополчения ДНР якобы есть “Буки”, то власти Украины должны были запретить полеты над юго-востоком страны гражданских самолетов. Никаких других заявлений, сходных с тезисами материала агентства “Рейтер”, Ходаковский не делал. “Странно было бы думать, что всего за сутки Ходаковский изменил свою позицию”, — заметил источник в его окружении.

Recounting the charges the rebels have Buks, Khodakovsky neither confirms nor denies them. He [Khodakovsky] only adds that, if prior to the catastrophe, Kiev knew that the DNR [Donetsk Peoples’ Republic] militia had a “Buk”, then the Ukraine authorities should have prohibited civilian aircraft flights over the southeast of the country.  Khodakovsky made no other statements comparable to the points in the material presented by the Reuters agency. “It would be strange to think that Khodakovsky changed his position in just one day,” – said a source close to him.

In a second Ria.Ru article “Subordinates doubt Khodakovsky Gave an Interview Regarding “Beech”

There is not much to the second article other than background information on the crash and a questioning of the Khodakovsky interview authenticity.

I asked Dreizin about the word “beech”. The answer is Russia names military equipment after plants and trees. Buk is a beech tree.

Damning Contradictions

Khodakovsky neither admitted nor denied the rebels had Buks. Once again, here is the damning contradiction as I presented earlier.

Khodakovsky said his unit had never possessed BUKs, but they may have been used by rebels from other units.

Now look back at the opening Reuters lead-in: “Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion, acknowledged … the rebels did possess the BUK missile system and said it could have been sent back subsequently to remove proof of its presence.

Here is the major contradiction: “What resources our partners have, we cannot be entirely certain. Was there (a BUK)? Wasn’t there? If there was proof that there was, then there can be no question.”

Khodakovsky never saw a Buk. Here is the precise statement as reported by Reuters: “That BUK I know about. I heard about it.

This could be a translation issue by one side or another, accidentally, or on purpose.

My best guess is the Reuters quotes are reasonably accurate (except perhaps the last one, specifically the word “know”), and that Khodakovsky’s denial now about not discussing Buks at all is a translation issue.

Regardless, it’s pretty clear that writer Anton Zverev seriously overplayed the interview, stating something that Khodakovsky never admitted “the rebels did possess the BUK missile system”.

As the interview quote shows, Khodakovsky doesn’t know what equipment other units have. That message is consistent with his denial on RT.

Thus, we are still precisely where we started: Did the rebels have Buks?

Mike “Mish” Shedlock