MH 17: Some facts!

A guest article by Ivan Winters

Rather like my previous article re the Ukrainian protests and the overthrow of a democratically elected President (see H&D Issue 60) all I intend to do in this article is to provide a ‘primer’, a starting point for the reader to launch their own enquiries and lay to rest some of the more idiotic narratives going around. I made comments in the last article about the poor quality of Western media coverage of the situation during the ‘Maidan protests’ and the need to use alternative sources. It has got even worse during this incident. I cited Al Jazeera (AJ) and Russia Today (RT) as two useful sources in my previous article although I did caution that RT is of course putting the Russian regimes spin on things. RT coverage has deteriorated with the network putting forward various barely credible alleged versions of ‘events’ all of which conveniently blame the ‘Ukraine’ or ‘the West’. Most of these claims can be easily debunked by a little research. The next day forgetting the previous day’s narrative which has been debunked RT comes out with another version of events!! In fact at least one RT journalist, Sara Firth, resigned over RT’s handling of the issue. The only station that has remained credible is AJ but AJ has not been giving much airtime to the MH17 incident. This is because AJ’s ‘heroes’ in Gaza, Hamas, have been having a noisy neighbourhood spat with Israel and AJ is giving that a lot of airtime.

A further problem is that among the various claims and counterclaims made by both parties observers are effectively told by both sides that they must take everything ‘on trust’ with little of the primary evidence being made available. We went to war in Iraq on the basis of a ‘dodgy dossier’ now we are not even being allowed to see the dossier merely listen to each sides ‘interpretation’ of their alleged evidence. This includes the fact that the US is known to have electronic intelligence aircraft (ELINT) and satellites monitoring Eastern Ukraine. Both AJ and RT have shown pictures of State Department Press conferences in Washington where the spokeswoman has refused to give any primary evidence from these sources just ‘interpretation’. The evidence given has included such things as pictures from the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) allegedly showing a Russian SA-11 rocket launcher being transported on a civilian low loader and photographed allegedly passing through a town close to the Russian border, Krasnodon (Pic 1).

Pic 1: Ukrainian Security Service photo allegedly showing a Russian rocket launcher passing through Krasnodon

The photo has now been taken down from the SBU site but is still quoted by Western sources to prove Russian complicity in this incident. Why has it been taken down. Because some Western sources working on the Internet did what Western media failed to do – check out the pictures. Looking at Pic 1 despite the cruddy resolution clearly visible over the top of the low loader are some trolley bus wires and to the left is the edge of a large roadside advertising hoarding. The border town where this is alleged to have been photographed has a trolley bus system but nothing else fits the photo! In fact some detective work suggests this was taken some distance from the border on the outskirts of Luhansk (Pic 2).

Pic 2: Some detective work suggests the photo was taken elsewhere – some distance from the border on the outskirts of Luhansk.

Just too add to the disinformation the Russians used the same photo (Pic 1) and said it was taken in the city of Krasnoarmeysk a city controlled by the Ukrainian Army since May 11th . But Krasnoarmeysk has no trolley bus system. These discrepancies are analysed further here. A further light is thrown on the situation because as I mentioned above the missile launcher was being transported on a civilian low loader. If, as claimed by the Ukrainians this was a Russian supplied system that is rather odd as the Russians have a range of military tractor/trailer units to transport their systems on. Use of a civilian low loader suggests an ad hoc arrangement, the sort of thing that could well be improvised by civilian based separatists. In fact ‘Paris Match’ magazine did something which major news sources had failed to do. A phone number can be seen on the low loader in some photos. They dialled it ! The owner of the haulage yard told them it had been stolen ‘earlier this month’.

Pic 3: A tarpaulin covered missile launcher filmed on a dashboard camera, just inside the Russian border.

Talking of military and civilian low loaders leads to another confusing report which covers in detail. This is a report of a tarpaulin covered missile launcher on a military low loader filmed on a ‘dashboard camera’ a couple of kilometres inside the Russian border (Pic 3). The missile unit was originally identified as a SA-11, the type of missile most sources accept was fired at MH-17. A closer look at it by Dr Richard North noticed that not only was it on a military low loader it appeared to be longer, with a longer overhang over the hull of the launcher and (just visible under the tarpaulin) more track wheels (7 not 6). It appears to be a SA-12 a different missile launcher with a longer range and greater altitude than the SA-11. In his research Dr Richard North even found a company in New Orleans, USA, that makes diecast models of the SA-12 launcher and military low loader! Could the Russians have shot down MH-17 with a SA-12 from their side of the border and left it to ‘separatists’ with the shorter range SA-11 in the Ukraine to claim the ‘credit’ (or catch the blame !)? The SA-12 has totally different radars from the SA-11 and it is almost certain US ELINT aircraft would have detected the aircraft was being tracked by the ‘wrong radar’. (Rather than bore readers witless if you want more read the long, technical articles, on SA-11 and SA-12 on Wikipedia).

What we have after this long convoluted discussion and various attempts to muddy the waters mainly by Ukrainian and Western sources is that it appears MH-17 was shot down by a SA-11 missile fired from a separatist controlled area of the Eastern Ukraine. How did they get the launcher? Some of the pictures show a number painted on the side of the launcher ‘312’. This matches with pictures on a Facebook page relating to the soldiers in a Ukrainian air defence unit. A picture from early this year, before the outbreak of the ‘separatist uprising’, shows a launcher numbered 312 at the unit base in Donetsk. This base was stormed by the separatists at the beginning of the uprising and a lot of the equipment seized. The Ukrainians claim the missile launchers seized were ‘non-operational’ but they would say that to hide their embarrassment at a lot of high value equipment being seized wouldn’t they ? Some of the separatist commanders in various interviews (rants!) have claimed that ‘civil organisations’ in Russia gave them help fixing ‘non-operational’ equipment they seized. This could be true or it could be a ploy by the separatist leaders to make it appear they have more support than they really have to impress the local East Ukrainian population.

One final factor that is not being mentioned by the Western Press. On July 14th a Ukrainian Antonov An-26 transport was shot down over the separatist controlled region at 21000ft. The altitude of this aircraft meant that it was too high to have been shot down by a shoulder fired missile. A SA-11 or similar system was obviously deployed in the region. Three days later MH-17 was shot down. The question that is being asked is why didn’t the Ukrainian and/or US governments order international air traffic organisations to close the air zone over the Eastern Ukraine to civilian flights as a high altitude capable missile system was deployed in the area? As an aside according to the ‘Wikipedia’ entry for the SA-11M1 (the type used in the Ukraine) there was an old technology 1980’s IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) system fitted but I note that the citation for this item (citation ‘8’) is a duff link ! Has their been some ‘friendly editing’ of the entry ? How much skill does the crew need to have to use the IFF (if it exists) competently? As a matter of fact by July 17th some airlines were taking a longer route over the Black Sea to avoid this war zone. Did the Ukrainian government desperate for foreign currency keep routing flights over the area so they could charge the ‘transit fees’ to airlines? Or did the Ukrainian and/or US governments hope for an ‘own goal’ by the separatist manned missile launcher crew which the Western governments could then try to link President Putin too?

I mentioned above the Western governments tactic of blaming everything on ‘Putin’ and refusing to show any of their alleged ‘primary evidence’. The Ukrainian attempts to support the West in this have consisted of dodgy photos which they have had to take down when they are challenged. I mentioned earlier the ‘dodgy dossier’ in Iraq but in 2003 some Western media questioned the accuracy of that dossier. Even the BBC did so with it’s then reporter, the excellent Andrew Gilligan. Now we have a celebrity magazine Paris Match doing more research than the major news organisations like the BBC!  A researcher working with a laptop in Wibsey, South Bradford is doing major research on the subject in between his normal ‘duties’ such as putting together anti-EU briefings. I mentioned in my previous article the work that can be done using ‘alternative media’ compared to the traditional news sources but it is strange (or deliberate ?) that the traditional media are not making efforts to improve the quality of their fact finding. They are, by their lack of efforts to research on these major issues, destroying their own credibility and handing their audiences over to the alternative media. I will close with one excellent quote. Former US Secretary of State, Dr Henry Kissinger may be 90 but he has still got all his marbles: ‘Demonizing Vladimir Putin does not make a Foreign Policy!’

 

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