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23 July 2014


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My God, that'd mean that Russians had been giving the rebels MiG-29s!


So I presume physical forensics on the wreckage and bodies would provide info on the warhead?


had they used an AA-11 they'd have gotten a warhead twice the size, a better seeker and greater performance and range (30 instead of 8km). Can be fired by newer versions of the Su-25 and Ukraine has them, too.

They can be fired head on also, insofar it is erroneous to assume that, because eitehr missile has an IR seeker, the damage would be at the tail end of a missile.

An airliner is not a subtle target. The better missile could make up easily for the shortcomings of the Su-25 as a launch aircraft.

Wiki states that both the AA-8/R-60 and the AA-11/R-73 have a warhead with RDX-Aluminium explosive with a DU continuous rod for fragments. That would leave a 'fingerprint' on the wreckage.


Both have proximity fuses, they need to. Why becomes quite obvious when one looks how a continuous rod warhead works.


Where is a neutral, say Swiss, team of forensic experts when one needs them?

David Habakkuk


The former long-serving Canadian government analyst of Soviet and Russian affairs, Dr Patrick Armstrong, has a post just up which discusses a lot of material – and links to a piece making a case similar to yours.

(See http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2014/07/special-russian-federation-sitrep.html .)

The kind of investigation which is required to establish what happened to MH17 is a matter of painstakingly questioning and rearranging facts – or what purport to be facts – until they make some kind of sense. As soon as one attempts seriously to do this, one finds – as you have done – that what is presented as unambiguous fact cannot necessarily be regarded as sufficiently certain to be a reliable ‘building block’ in getting closer the truth.

Particularly where all sides are under suspicion of disseminating disinformation, and a ‘false flag’ operation could be at issue, 95% certainty is not enough.

That said, my earlier suspicion that insurgents could have targeted an Su-25, and the missile hit the MH17, looks as though it is unambiguously ruled out by information on the targeting systems of the BUK: although I am still not 100% certain on this.

Looking at the question the other way round, however, it seems that we need to be clear whether we can be 100% certain that a Buk missile was actually fired. It seems clear – there is a useful video to which Dr Armstrong links – that when it is there is a large flash, and a very visible contrail, up to the target.

Can one then take it as 100% certain that, if the skies were clear, such a flash and contrail, definitely leading up to the MH17, would have been picked up on Russian and American satellites, and be clearly distinguishable from other ‘noise’? It is not clear to me whether at the time of the shootdown the skies were clear – the Russian videos of Ukrainian Buks north of Donetsk show broken cloud.

(Also, I do not know what capability U.S. satellites may or may not have to see through cloud. And it is likewise not clear to me whether if the large part of the contrail which would have been above the cloud could have been distinguished from the cloud.)

According to the AP report of the briefing by ‘senior U.S. intelligence officials’ on Tuesday:

‘From satellites, sensors and other intelligence gathering, officials said, they know where the missile originated – in separatist-held territory – and what its flight path was.’

(See http://www.bigstory.ap.org/article/us-present-intelligence-data-plane-crash-0 .)

It is simply not clear whether the reference to the ‘flight path’ is supposed to refer to satellite imagery of the missile being launched and in flight, or if it simply an inference from a claim that the missile could only have been launched from a certain location, not supported by such evidence. It is also not clear whether the officials are making a specific claim to know the precise battery from which the missile was launched, or a very general claim that it could only have been from somewhere in rebel-held territory.

However, I am struck that the references to ‘social media’ do not include a repetition of a crucial claim recycled by the FT in a report two days previously:

‘Meanwhile, images from social media of the missile flare as it was launched at MH17 show it rising vertically upwards. Military analysts say that given the altitude, direction of travel and crash site of MH17, such a rocket trail points to a launch site in the Torez-Snizhne area, and rules out the possibility of a launch from a distance further away by Ukrainian military forces, as was earlier claimed by Russian defence officials. A launch from an S300 anti-aircraft weapon, for example – the only system the Ukrainian military possesses with the range to have hit MH17 – would have looked very different, they say.’

(See http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a1dcc628-1010-11e4-90c7-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=uk#axzz3869LeLvE .)

It may because of the limitations of my internet skills, but I have not seen any of these ‘images from social media’, still less any attempt to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that they could only have related to a missile fired on 17 July in the Torez-Snizhne area. Has anyone else?

Moreover, while it is certainly conceivable that there are good reasons for not making satellite images public, I find it more difficult to imagine good reasons for not making ‘images from social media’ public.

Also, the map of the flight path given in the image provided by U.S. intelligence agencies to journalists does not suggest that the missile rose vertically. It seems that to link it to Snizhne – as the image but not the briefing does – it was necessary to have it rise at an angle of about 45% to the ground.

If some of these ‘images from social media’ are produced and analysed properly, they may indeed conclusively demonstrate that a Buk was actually fired, and fired by the insurgents. If they are not, however, it raises the question of whether we may be dealing with (yet another) disinformation operation.

That said, if indeed a Su-25 shot down the MH17, it would have had, almost certainly, to be as part of a ‘false flag’ operation – and such a way of organising such an operation does not seem to make a great deal of sense. However, in an affair where so much does not make much sense, one cannot rule out anything until one is unambiguously sure.

Mark Gaughan

What if it was an SU-27, with a larger missile?

William R. Cumming

Thanks PL and I also was trained on the Redeye!


Well, that wouild be a new story, and by jove, this one is muddled enough already.


... at the tail end of an *aircraft*

ex-PFC Chuck

David, Your references to the fact that social media and the like have been used extensively by the promoters of the "Blame Russia" meme remind me that the Department of State is considering a redesign of its seal to reflect the new reality:

By the way, I don't know how you submit your comments on this site but for some reason on my Firefox browser the lines do not wrap to stay within the frame of the thread. They extend into the column on the right over-lapping its content (Categories, Archives, Live Traffic Feed, etc.), thus making them harder to read. I've not noticed this effect with any other commenter.


The R-60 is the Russian version of the American Sidewinder air to air missile. It is essentially a close range dog fight device. It is made to use infra red tracking to close with an enemy jet in high G turns (4 to 8 Gs), and still make the kill.

The 777 was in steady state, straight line o G cruise configuration at the time of the hit. Those huge engines were putting out a mammoth IR signature. In this slam dunk scenario,there is a very high probability, an R 60 missile would have homed directly to one of the engines. The aircraft is designed so, if an engine falls off or is blown off the wing, the aircraft can easily be kept flying. Whatever hit it, was big enough to knock that big mother cleanly out of the sky. In my opinion probably something bigger, than an R 60 warhead.

As much as I like a good false flag operation, I doubt the SU 25/R 60 scenario is valid.

In by gone days the Soviet era SAMS left a very nice big contrail signature. I don't know if the BUKs do or not. If they do, surely somebody's I phone photographed it. As somebody else noted, a good explosive and warhead type analysis on the wreckage should give the answer pretty damn quickly.

That of course presupposes, the authorities actually want a valid answer.


In the Jul21 thread where the Su-25 theory first arose Ulenspiegel argued over and over that Su-25's couldn't operate at a sufficient altitude to bring down a Boeing flying at 10k ft. The argument made absolutely no sense to me mathematically since the range of the R-60 more than made up for the altitude restrictions on the Su-25B1.

But what about you techies who know these planes and missiles -- can we resolve Ulenspiegel's argument one way or the other on the basis of the actual specifications of the platform/missile?

Also -- and this relates to pl's casus belli post as well -- in analyzing US motivation to lie on this issue and cover for Kiev, it is absolutely essential to factor in Michael Scherer's revelations in Time on Jul07.14 regarding the spooky company called Burisma Holdings set up by Kiev.

Burisma is paying some very interesting people to shill for them in the USG -- people like Biden's son, Hunter. Kerry's son-in-law Christopher Heinz. Kerry's campaign fund-bundler Devon Archer. Kerry's former chief of staff David Leiter.

Here's what Scherer says about Burisma:

"Burisma Holdings is owned by a Cypriot holding firm, Brociti Investments Limited, which is controlled Nikolai Zlochevskyi, a former Ukranian government minister, according to Cypriot records. It controls government development licenses in three regions of Ukraine, and sells to industrial customers in the country, according to the company."


Of course, Shcerer couldn't have known on Jul07 the significance of his revelations. But what he has shown is a direct line running from the goons in Kiev to the pockets of Biden's and Kerry's 1st degree relatives and Kerry's close buddies. When one considers that, apparently, MH17 had no Americans on board, one must wonder how strong the lines of communication are between USG and whomever is directing Ukraine's AA and SAM operations.


Ex-U.S Diplomat on Ukraine crisis. Starting at about 3:50 into the recording he tells us how the State Dept feels about the citizens of the breakaway repubic.



What's with the double down or disavow? Those are the two options that our State Dept. expects Putin to choose from? Do they want Putin to double down? or disavow and close that border.

mistah charley, ph.d.

1) I, too, have the overlapping lines problem in Firefox with David Habbakuk's comments - but it goes away when I use Chrome instead.

2)I appreciate DH's pointer to the russiaotherpointsofview site - in addition to the informative and objective discussion of the MH17 situation, there are a number of other interesting and apparently reasonable things there - e.g. "Why do they hate Putin?"


Here is what I think the State Dept and the US gov't wants from Putin http://www.wolfhowl.org/images/pos-passive-submission.jpg

I expect Putin sees it more like this http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Bq4J3y95hyY/Tbd8tyFBzLI/AAAAAAAAMqc/CGoyg52EUPQ/s1600/wolf.jpg

David Habakkuk


I also find the air-to-air scenario highly implausible. However, when dealing with the post-Soviet space, as also the Middle East, sometimes highly implausible scenarios can turn out to be right. (Occam's Razor can turn round and cut your fingers off!)

As to the contrail signature, have a look at this footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDXScnEKaP0 .

It looks pretty big to me. One thing I want to know is what, on a clear day, would show up on a satellite image, and if it was cloudy, whether the contrail above the clouds would simply merge into the clouds.

Certainly, one would expect that this kind of contrail would show up on social media somewhere. But this is a point I made earlier. It has been claimed that it did, but I have not seen any evidence. Why? And why was the claim that such footage showed a vertical contrail contradicted by the images later released to journalists?

And until we have conclusive proof that a Buk was fired, we need cast-iron grounds for discounting the air-to-air possibility.


All: I have seen on CNN yesterday (or maybe it was day before?) a message across the bottom of the screen in large letters something to the effect that 'Oligarch is financing his private military' - there was no followup on this message and I never have seen it again. Has anyone seen it also?

David Habakkuk


As a complete ignoramus, I would also appreciate clarification.

What seems to me unlikely – although not impossible – is that the Russian authorities would make claims which can be expected to be shown to be simply false when their evidence is put up for critical examination. Accordingly, I think it is imperative to explore the possible implications of their claims about the two Ukrainian planes, and the actions of Ukrainian Buk batteries, without of course simply assuming that they are reliable.

As an ignoramus, it is not clear to me how far the altitude to which a plane like the Su-25 can reach can vary. I would assume that one cannot 'soup up' a plane, as one can a car – is that right? And how far are these matters a function of pilot skill?

David Habakkuk

Apologies to you both. I have tried to fix the problem, and so far it seems to be working.

I loved the redesigned seal.

Not long ago Anatol Lieven, who is probably the best British foreign affairs commentator, said something along the lines of the only genuinely conservative force in American politics is now the uniformed military. This seems to me about right.

David Habakkuk


It still seems to me that the 'front-runner' hypotheses are a massive bungle by the militia, and a 'false flag' operation by elements within the Ukrainian authorities. Which is more plausible does not seem to me at the moment possible to say.

However, I would note that while the 'massive bungle' hypothesis is very bad news indeed for the Russian authorities, it is not actually necessarily an absolute and unconditional disaster. And indeed, if they come to the conclusion that this is where an independent inquiry is likely to point, it might well be their least worst option to come clean quickly.

That said, a 'false flag' operation could well be a massive disaster for the Western backers of the Kiev authorities. It seems to me an open question whether the Western MSM could get away indefinitely with suppressing problematic evidence, as they largely have with the Ghouta atrocity and the sniper shootings in the Maidan.

But there is a world beyond the West. And here, if the Russians can produce compelling evidence, or simply put a very large range of questions the West cannot answer, this episode may be widely taken as confirmation of the case which Putin and other Russians have made time and again in recent months – that the United States and its cowardly European amen chorus have become a force for anarchy in the international system.

I would also note that while the Russian authorities may very well at the moment have a clear idea of what happened, and be covering up, we cannot simply assume this. It would be intellectually sloppy simply to discount the possibility that they do not actually yet know.


One more casualty of the MH17 shoot down, Ukraine's prime minister resigns:


I believe we already know the American response:



I would agree most anything is a possibility at this point. Especially,in a place like the Ukraine.

A larger point, which I haven't seen discussed,is within a 2 day window. The world has had two direct attacks on commercial aviation. MH 17 and the direct targeting of Ben Gurion airport in Israel.

If the world's crazies get the idea, their new access to destructive technologies should be applied to commercial aviation. Well,commercial aviation is the main glue,which ties the world's commerce together. Having been heavily involved with aviation, I submit the system is a bit more fragile, than most of you realize.

One more key part of civilization at risk from the barbarians rise.

Charles Dekle

Robert Parry offers an interesting hypothesis:

"As the U.S. government seeks to build its case blaming eastern Ukrainian rebels and Russia for the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the evidence seems to be getting twisted to fit the preordained conclusion, including a curious explanation for why the troops suspected of firing the fateful missile may have been wearing Ukrainian army uniforms."




Oligarch Klomoyskyi is known to maintain a private security force.

different clue

A thought, however unlikely, occurred to me.

What if that missile or rocket was fired by a battlefield troll or a crew of battlefield trolls? Just for the LULZ and to "see what would happen"? Is such a think totally impossible?

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