Some Info About “Buks” : Kiev Has 60 Units; Rebels May Have 1; Not Clear If Latter In Working Order

People seem to have their minds made up on whether or not the plane was shot down and by whom.

The propaganda du jour is the separatists were responsible. By even discussing alternatives, ridiculous accusations have come in about “Mish” being a Russian name.

The first casualty in war is always the truth. Statements from both sides are suspect.

Here is another update from  reader Jacob Dreizin, a US citizen who speaks Russian and reads Ukrainian, regarding whether or not the rebels had a Buk system.

Hi Mish,

I told you the rebels have never claimed a high-altitude air defense capability, and despite that “tweet” (which I believe is genuine), I stand by what I said: The rebels do not have a working Buk system.

Late last month, the Donetsk rebels took over a small military base that housed at least one “Buk” system. Immediately, Kiev announced that the captured equipment was not in working order. And that was the end of it.

The rebels never claimed to have deployed the system. In fact, they have stated many times that they have a modest air defense ceiling, and that Ukrainian planes have been trying to make their attacks from above that ceiling (not always successfully.) And the rebels have never claimed a high-altitude capability.

My guess still remains that the Ukrainians (unwittingly) repeated their Siberian Airlines stunt from 2001.

Questions Du Jour

  • Is Anyone Telling The Truth?
  • Were both Ukraine and the Rebels lying about Rebel possession of a working Buk system?

Missile Claims Deepen Escalation Fears

Please consider Missile Claims Deepen Escalation Fears

Little is yet known about who targeted Malaysian airlines jet MH17. But the destruction of an airliner at high altitude by a missile strike, as Kiev suggests, shows the conflict in eastern Ukraine has reached a new level in terms of military hardware and tactics.

To down a commercial plane flying at 10,000m requires a missile system of a sophistication until now regarded as well beyond the capabilities of pro-Russian separatists, raising the question of exactly what such a system might be, and more importantly, where it came from.

For weeks, the militia forces in the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk have been waging a highly successful ground-to-air missile campaign.

At least 10 Ukrainian military aircraft including Mi-24 and Mi-8 “Hind” helicopters, An-30 and An-26 transport planes and, last month, an IL-76 military transport carrying 49 troops have all been shot down this year.

So far, planes in eastern Ukraine have been hit with missiles launched from Manpad – shoulder-launched – systems, with a limited range of around 3,500m.

Around five hours before the crash of MH17 on Thursday, locals near the town of Grabovo, where wreckage of the flight is now scattered, spotted a Buk launcher.

Pinpointing where such a Buk launcher might have come from, is the hard part.

Both the Ukrainian and Russian military possess such systems. Kiev operates 60 Buk 9K37s, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Moscow operates 350, including a large number of more modern Buk 9K317s.

“It’s a standard Soviet anti-aircraft system,” says Igor Sutyagin, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and an expert in Russian military equipment and tactics. “We know that missile systems have been coming across the Russian border [in recent weeks], but this type of system falling into separatist hands is new.”

The best evidence that has emerged so far is that the Buk launcher fell into rebel hands on June 29.

On that day, rebel forces took control of a base in the suburbs of Donetsk at which surface-to-air missile unit A1402 of the Ukrainian army was located.

A picture put up online shortly after the seizure by the rebel forces shows very clearly a Buk launcher in situ armed with four missiles.

It is impossible to directly verify whether the claim is genuine, but the picture – and many other references online from rebel groups to Buk systems being captured – have been removed in recent hours.

So, was the captured system working or not? If it was working, were both sides lying about it?

You-Tube Proof

ZeroHedge had a couple of interesting posts today. Here is the first: Ukraine Releases YouTube Clip “Proving” Rebels Shot Down Malaysian Flight MH-17.

If you read the article you will note that the You-Tube timestamps have been edited and it is not entirely clear who is even having the discussion that Kiev offers as “proof”.

In short, there is no proof of anything other than someone is attempting to cover their tracks.

ZeroHedge concludes “The opinion of the world as to who is at fault here is most certainly very much made up by now anyway, and if it isn’t, the “unbiased” media will certainly help, even it has nothing but repetitive soundbites and speculation presented as fact, in the coming days.

Also consider the ZeroHedge question Was Flight MH-17 Diverted Over Restricted Airspace?

My interpretation is a combination of maybe and no. The flight did take a mysterious path for reasons not yet reported or understood.

The Financial Times reports Downed Airliner was Travelling Above No-Fly Zone.

While the plane was not in restricted space, it was just above it, but perhaps on an unusual path. If so, why?

Conspiracy Theories

Clearly there is a cover-up conspiracy by someone. Whoever did it, knows they did it. I am willing to entertain the possibility that it could be either side, my position all along. I am not willing to accept the mainstream media position that the rebels are clearly to blame.

The fact remains that unless Kiev and the rebels are both telling the same lie, there is no reason to believe the Buk system captured by the rebels is in working order.

Finally, Ukraine accidentally shot down a civilian plane once before (see Did Ukraine Shoot Down Passenger Plane? They Did Once Before: SA Flight 1812 Erroneously Downed by Ukraine in 2001)

Ukraine denied it then. Why is it so inconceivable the same thing happened again?

Mike “Mish” Shedlock