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22 July 2014


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With the Dutch and ICAO running the investigation there is some chance of a thorough and objective report. pl

David Habakkuk


Reading the claims made at the press conference by Lt. Gens. Kartopolov and Makushev some thoughts come to mind.

(The most recent RT report on the press conference is at http://rt.com/news/174496-malaysia-crash-russia-questions/ .)

Having a good deal of familiarity with disinformation put out both by the Russian authorities and their opponents, it seems to me imperative to avoid jumping to conclusions: often truth and falsehood come jumbled up in strange combinations.

However, it would seem to me unlikely – although not impossible – that claims the Russians make that are liable to be subjected to rigorous cross-examination by competent experts will turn out to be simply and unequivocally false. And recently, to be frank, RT stories have seemed to me in general better supported by hard evidence than much of the reporting in the Western MSM, where claims by Western authorities totally unsupported by evidence are time and again recycled uncritically.

What was clearly suggested at the press conference was that there were two suspect planes flying close to MH17, one probably – but not certainly – a Ukrainian SU-25 and one which the Russians appear to suggest was a Ukrainian military aircraft, although they could not identify it because of the absence of the relevant transponder.

The armament of the former plane was mentioned at the press conference, but the more clear suggestion would seem to have been that the Buk systems about whose movements and radar activity claims were made were the prime suspects.

It seems clear we need unambiguous information about how high a SU-25 can and cannot fly, with or without armament. The original Wikipedia figure provided by Ulenspiegel he now concedes is too conservative, but there do appear to be technical questions about the feasibility of a shoot-down by such a plane. There seem to me all kinds of other reasons why that is an implausible scenario. If one wanted to create a ‘false flag’ operation, this is not how one would do it.

That leads on to another technical question: Would it be possible to use such a plane as a decoy, in the hope that if it flew close enough to an airliner a missile aimed at it would be likely to strike the airliner? This is the kind of suggestion at which the Russians might hint but could not make openly, as while it would incriminate the Ukrainians it would also incriminate the militia.

It is not clear to me whether the argument that the fact that the militia lacks an air force means that the Ukrainians have no good grounds to be moving and exercising their Buks is cogent. If they are making contingency plans for a possible Russian intervention, they could be expected to do this.

Are there compelling reasons why the United States cannot disclose data from its satellites?

I am still puzzled by the suggestions carried in the FT that ‘images from social media’ of the missile flare enable the point from which it was fired to be ascertained. So far, I have seen no such images. Has anyone else, or is this another case of the MSM recycling claims without asking for evidence?

It sometimes seems to me that certain kind of ‘information operations’ have elements in common with a game of snooker. If one has a situation where different parties all have something to hide, the name of the game is to try to manoeuvre the other party into a situation where they are confronted with questions they cannot answer, while one is not.


Yes. Contrast the briefing by the Russian MOD with the State Department's and Kerry's hot air (the only evidence being presented being the intercepts of separatist communications posted on YouTube by the Ukrainian Government which have already being discredited):

"[...] QUESTION: How is it exactly that you know that it was fired from Russian – I mean, from separatist-held territory?

MS. HARF: Well, we have a great deal of information that the Secretary laid out yesterday, and I can go back through some of it today. But we do know first that Russian-backed separatists were in possession of an SA-11 system as early as Monday, July 14th. This is from intercepts of separatist communications posted on YouTube by the Ukrainian Government.

QUESTION: Well, is there anything – okay, is there anything other – because there’s other --

MS. HARF: I can keep going if – or you want to jump in.

QUESTION: Well, is there stuff that’s other than social media that you’re talking --

MS. HARF: Yes, absolutely. There is.

QUESTION: Okay. So what is it that’s other than social media?

MS. HARF: At this point, Matt, we’ve said what our assessment is, very strong assessment publicly. If there’s more information that that’s based on that we can share, we’re happy to do so. We’ll continue looking at that. But look, this is what we know as of right now. Based on open information which is basically common sense, right – we know where it was fired from, we know who has this weapon – backed up --

QUESTION: Well, I don’t --

MS. HARF: -- backed up --

QUESTION: -- I mean, it’s disputed, though.

MS. HARF: -- backed up by a host of information that we have gathered about who did this, where it came from, and what the weapon system was. So one of – we’re just telling you what we know now.

QUESTION: Right, right. But --

MS. HARF: One of the reasons we’ve called on Russia to push the separatists it backs into an investigation is so we can get all the facts. Instead of holding press briefings and making statements, maybe the Russian Government should call on the separatists they support to allow an actual investigation.

QUESTION: Right. But that’s what you’ve done. You’ve held press – well, Security Council meetings and going --

MS. HARF: Well, we don’t have leverage with the separatists. I would say the Russians do and they’re not using it. So let’s have them use it.

QUESTION: Well, okay. But I mean, I think we’re talking at cross-purposes here. I’m asking you --

MS. HARF: It wouldn’t be the first time.

QUESTION: (Laughter.) No, that’s true. What I’m asking – I mean, there are social – all you’re willing to present publicly that backs up your version of the story, which may well be the correct version of the story, but all you have --

MS. HARF: “May well be.”

QUESTION: Well, it may well be. But I don’t know because I haven’t seen your evidence that shows that the missile was launched from rebel-held territory. But you’re saying – so the only thing you’re willing to put out publicly is the social media accounts, I mean the social media stuff.

MS. HARF: That’s part of it."


See also:

"State Dept. Annoyed at Press Questioning MH17 Narrative
Spokeswoman Angrily Refers Press to Social Media for 'Proof'"


ex-PFC Chuck

I hope your optimism is well placed but I have my doubts. Yesterday afternoon I heard on a public radio program an interview with a Dutch diplomat who has been appointed as their government's point person in their dealings with this tragedy, and it sounded to me that he'd bought hook, line and sinker into the US propaganda narrative of insurgent guilt. I was driving at the time and don't recall his name. If he reflects the sentiments of the Dutch government the likelihood of an objective inquiry is iffy at best.

ex-PFC Chuck

Dmitry Orlov also leans toward the intentional Ukraine hypothesis, although the key word in the previous clause is "leans." Usefully he clearly discusses how he analyzes the situation.

Babak Makkinejad

"Harf" means "talk" in Arabic - is this an accidental last name?

Babak Makkinejad

This is but a wrinkle in the Euro-American confrontation with Russia.

US and EU leaders decided to pursue a policy of pushing Russia out of Europe - in spite of a 300-year history of Russia being a European power.

And then they went for an unacceptable attack on Russian security by trying to gain control of Ukraine.

This policy has not been rescinded; on the contrary, it is gaining momentum.

Even if it is established that units loyal to the government in Kiev had fired this missile that brought down that airplane, the course of demonization of Russia will continue; in my opinion.

And it will end in the same place as the Euro-American policy has ended vis a vis Iran, Syria, Iraq, Palestine.

And likely China as well.

By the way, I think sanctions are not a policy per se - they indicate an absence of policy. Like when SWMBO is giving one the silent treatment.


Better they than Russia (because nobody would accept any of their findings if inconcenient) - or the US or the Coup-Ukrainians (because of their declared resolve to find Russia guilty no matter what).


Thanks for that one.

I think that both twitter and facebook shouldn't suffice as the standard of evidence to launch a war on, really.


Over dinner I came to a theory that could, if true, reconcile the Su-25 flights near the airliner with an accidental shoot-down by the separatists while establishing culpability for the Ukrainian coup government.

Here it goes:

Iirc it's a fast attack craft tactic is to hide in the radar shadows among freighter traffic. Why couldn't military aircraft hide amongst civilian aircraft? They might not get shot at, and if they get shot at, and the attacker hits a civilian aircraft, all the worse for the attacker's PR.

Imagine some Su-25 strafing a rebel position somewhere in the east and they fly back to base.

Rebels tracks these Su-25.

The Su-25 flew along an air traffic route at air traffic altitude - presumably safe from SAM. That could have happened accidentally, or deliberately in order to provoke an incident.

The rebels shoot at what they thought to be a Su-25 aircraft, and shot down MH17. Jamming may have contributed to that outcome.

Considering the prepared 'intercepts' that predate the shoot down the whole affair, the Ukrainian government may have aimed for something like MH-17, and only left the shooting to the separatists.

It would be quite interesting to know more about the traffic between the Su-25 pilots and their particular order and what sortie they were on or returned from.


Afterthought: With their aroured titanium 'tub' the Su-25 would be the best available 'bait' since it would offer the pilot a chance of survival in case of a SAM hit.

Charles Dekle

Thank you.


Yours is a most concise outline of current Russian/Ukrainian tragedy:
"US and EU leaders decided to pursue a policy of pushing Russia out of Europe. This policy is gaining momentum."
This is a vicious struggle for unipolar world. Everything is on the table, including Western civilization.


TTG - Let me get this straight: You're saying that the Ukrainian military used an SA-11 to attempt to shoot down it's own plane, which happened to be in the vicinity of ML17? So, the missile was fired to bring down their own plane, but misacquired the commercial jet and destroyed it. That doesn't quite parse. Mistakes do happen in combat. That would be quite a mistake.

You also claim that recorded conversations of rebels have been pieced together form multiple, separate conversations, and also that the video of the Buk being removed was filmed within government held territory. Are there sources or confirmation for these statements? Those seem rather different than what has previously been claimed.

Ukraine does have reason to deploy its own Buks in that area. Firstly, they are near the Russian border, and a country has a right to air defense of its borders. The rebels are not known to operate their own air arm. However, Ukraine did claim that one its jets was brought down recently by a missile fired from a Russian jet - that report was not clear whether the Russian jet was in rebel airspace or in Russia, and similarly silent regarding the Ukrainian jet. So Ukraine would have some good reason to be concerned about hostile intrusion into its airspace, and to prepare defenses.


TTG, we should focus on disproving competing theories more than proving them. We are likely to find the actual circumstances more complicated than the 3 clear who done it possibilities.

Like it might be that a Ukrainian fighter was using the airliner as cover and the rebels shot at it and hit the airliner by accident.

Or ot follow your theory about the ruthless Nazi Ukie false flag shot down, one mark against that would be that Ukie planes were reported by Russia in the target area.

Another. If a missile launcher pulled up into a farmer's land, wouldn't he be talking to the crew, bitching about crop damage, noting its registration numbers and have a good idea which way it went and who hauled it away? Local kids, taxi drivers, grocery vendors, truckers? I have seen nothing from local eye witnesses and presume they are pro-Russian given the territory. It was shot down at 4:20 PM local so it must have made a hell of a noise and visual site when launched. If separatists weren't involved wouldn't we be having eyewitnesses lined up for presentation to the media by the former GRU professional contractor that does these interviews? It seems like a local news reporter or policeman or kid on a bicycle would be saying 'they went that away'. As time ticks local evidence will be tampered with, beer bottles, pieces of gear, uniforms will be slowly added to the crime scene by those who done it to cover a trail. The absence of local witnesses to the launch seem like a dog that didn't bark.


It means "letter", as in alphabet, in Turkish.

Is she true to the letter in everything she espouses? Cynically judjing, she wouldn't be a spokesperson if she were.



Yes, "harf" means "letter" in Arabic as in alphabetic character. "huruf" is the plural. must be an accidental combination of letters. pl


I see that I missed something in the Morning news cycle, which is central to the discussion: Russia is allusively floating a theory that a Ukrainian plane, shadowing the jetliner, brought the plane down with a SA missile it had onboard. That had escaped my attention, and perhaps i missed much of the point in your post, TTG.

Others are speaking knowlegably here about the capabilities of planes and missiles, and seem to cover the major bases quite well.

What is being suggested, is that the government of Ukraine placed a missile on a plane and sent it out to bring down a passenger jet flying in open air travel corridor. That is a very serious accusation, and if true an extremely serious crime. Such a decision might well have involved one or more persons at the higher reaches of the government. It would have to have involved a decision of air force officers, and to have been carried out by ground crew, likely witnessed by several or scores of others, including control tower personnel. Such a plane would have had a flight plan, or at least records kept of its departure and return, as well as maintenance records, if not altered or destroyed.

The task of keeping a mission like this clandestine and deniable would be immense. Russia has radar, as do many other parties. There are other forms of observation available to many. This is a part of the world under intense focus at the time of the downing. The security of such a mission requires great secrecy, foolish and/or stupidity.

Should such an accusation prove true, it would resound in the command of the military, at the highest reaches of government, and severely weaken international support for Ukraine. Should those implications have been thought through, a sane person would likely have abandoned such a plan.

I look forward to further evidence being brought forward by all parties who may be in possession if, in a state that it might be subject to forensic analysis. The location of the plane in question should be identified, and an inventory and examination of the plane and records should be made immediately.



"with a SA missile" did you mean an air to air missile? pl



"Ukraine does have reason to deploy its own Buks in that area."

You point out the 'rebels' have no aircraft. Russian intervention is the one thing that would very likely trigger a war between Russia and the West. Putin didn't do that when he could have rolled right up to the Eastern border with virtually no opposition. Why would you think he would do that now?

You can't understand how a Ukrainian AA battery might have fired the missile that hit MH17? How is that difficult to understand when you say quite correctly that 'mistakes happen in combat'.

Carl O.

Dear TTG, I would like to add one thing to your excellent comment. Five to seven days before the MH17 downing (I don't remember the exact date but it was somewhere in that range), Poroshenko and the regime's security officials had promised a "nasty surprise" for the rebel forces in the two breakaway republics. By July 16, it was clear that it was the regime's forces that were getting a nasty surprise, as a portion of their force along the Russian border in Donetsk was getting trapped. Then on July 17, MH17 went down and the world (as defined by the eastern media) jumped to Kiev's side.


"allusively floating"

Is that something like saying "Russian missile" a lot in the same breath as Putin and MH17?

David Habakkuk


Have you read my and CP’s comments – also the clarification by ‘Ulenspiegel’ of his earlier claim about the maximum altitude an SU-25 can reach, based on what it now seems was an inaccurate Wikipedia entry?

He writes:

‘The pieces of information I found on "Augen geradeaus" in respect to the SU-25 and BUK are: A highly talented pilot in a SU-25 may indeed be able to reach an altitude of 10.000 meters without killing the airplane and himself, this is not disputed by experts. :-) This operation, however, would require that the plane flies at almost maximum vertical speed and would as result have very low climb rate, it could very likely not carry any external weapons.’

Obviously, this needs to be double-checked, but the radical conflict with Russian claims which was bothering me earlier has now disappeared, as according to the RT report, what is suggested is that ‘Su-25 is capable of climbing to the altitude of 10,000 meters for a short period of time.’

What CP suggested was that an Su-25 returning from attacking a rebel position might have flown ‘along an air traffic route at air traffic altitude’ – and that this could have happened ‘accidentally, or deliberately in order to provoke an incident.’

If however ‘Ulenspiegel’ is right, it could not have flown for any length of time at ‘air traffic altitude’, and is unlikely to have approached that height while equipped with the armaments needed to destroy an airliner. So if the Russian claims about it climbing to something close to that altitude stand up, an obvious possible explanation would be that it did so ‘deliberately, in order to provoke an incident.’

So the critical technical question the becomes, if a missile from a BUK was fired at a Su-25 which was in close proximity to a Boeing, would it be possible that it could miss the target intended by those firing it, and hit the target which – according to this hypothesis – would have been intended by the pilot?

FB Ali

As I said in an earlier comment, I doubt very much there'll ever be any conclusive evidence to rule out either of the two probable scenarios: either the separatist militia shot it down in error, or the Kiev military did it deliberately.

Whatever conclusions are arrived at in the official inquiry, they are unlikely to satisfy the partisans on either side , who will continue to believe their own narratives. Meanwhile, the propaganda aim will have been achieved.

There is a method behind the madness of the virulent anti-Russian campaign launched by Washington. Its aim is to force the Europeans to toe the line in imposing increasing sanctions on Russia. Already Hollande is backtracking on the second ship France had contracted to supply Russia.

What Obama, Kerry and their advisers don't seem to realise is that, while they may achieve their short-term goal, their words today will make them vulnerable to pressure from the neocons to go beyond sanctions in action against Russia. It is a stupid game they are playing.

David Habakkuk


We need to check population density figures. I would suspect you would find that in the relevant areas the chances of being discovered would be about as low as they would be in some of the more sparsely populated areas of the Middle West.

However, what I suspect is not the point. We all need to do the research.

The relevant theory, as I have said in previous comments on this thread, is not the 'ruthless Nazi Ukie shotdown', but rather the 'ruthless Nazi Ukie' inveigling the dimwitted insurgents into shooting down a civilian airliner.

As it were, a post-modern Gleiwitz.

Whether this theory stands up under investigation I have at the moment no idea. It is clearly the theory to which 'Occam's razor' points.

However, as anyone who has any familiarity with political intrigue in either the post-Soviet space or the Middle East will be aware, 'Occam's Razor' can lead you to radically false conclusions.

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