Monday, 21 July 2014

Who shot down MH17?

No, this article does not contain the answer to the question. It just considers the options.

It seems generally agreed that Malaysian Airline's Boeing 777 flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down on the 17th July 2014 by someone using a Russian BUK anti-aircraft missile system. But everything on top of that is controversial.

Who operated the missile system? Who gave the orders?

Option one is that the "Ukrainian government" ie the government in Kiev (which came to power via a coup d'etat back in February you will recall) used a BUK system inherited from the Soviet days to shoot the airliner and the deed was done by forces loyal to Kiev fighting the separatists near Donetsk.

The problem here is that there is no real motive. The "separatists" do not have aircraft of their own so there is no chance the Ukrainian forces miss-identified the plane as enemy. The suggestion has been made that the real target was President Putin's personal "air force one" but again this is very unrealistic - the Kiev government is trying to keep Russia out of the conflict, not provoke then into attacking - and the chances of Putin overflying the region is remote. He's not completely stupid.

Option two is that the separatists fired the fateful missiles. This requires them somehow to have acquired a BUK system (comprising a minimum of 3 tracked vehicles and requiring a crew of at least ten to operate) and learned how to use it. The separatists are not professional soldiers. Until recently they were coal miners, factory workers and the like. In all probability they could not successfully deploy a BUK system even if they had one. Also, the separatists have no real motivation to shoot down a civilian airliner.

Option three is that a Russian BUK battery came over the border, did the deed, and retreated back over the border. The Russians have the kit and the expertise, and of course, they would have the full connivance of the local militia.

It should be noted that at least two Ukrainian Ilyushin army transport aircraft had been shot down in the area in the days immediately preceding MH17. It seems likely that a Russian BUK battery had been operating in the area, giving local separatists air cover and this battery shot down the 777 after mis-identifying it as military.

But this is where the blame starts to get difficult to pin. MH17 had been ordered by Kiev Air Traffic Control (ATC) to fly lower than it would normally have done. It was also flying 300 miles further north than it normally would, but we don't know if this was under orders from Kiev ATC or not.

So the possibility exists that the Ukrainian government, having lost two transport aircraft in the last few days and realising that a Russian BUK battery was operating in the area, decided to order a civilian airliner into harm's way in the hope that it also would get shot down, by accident, and this would force the Russians to remove their anti-aircraft missile battery and allow the Ukrainian airforce to operate freely in the area.

The Ukrainian government has released a recording of the BUK commander reporting to a "major" that they had shot down a civilian airliner by accident. This could be a faked recording but it seems likely it wasn't.

The most compelling scenario at the moment is then that the Russians were operating the missile battery and the Ukrainians managed to trick them into shooting down a civil airliner by ordering it to follow a flight path more typical of a military aircraft.

This constitutes a Ukrainian "win" since the Russians are now getting all the blame and have most certainly by now removed the BUK system from the area, thus giving the Ukrainians control of the skies again.


chefdave said...

Another great post. Why do you get the time to research all this stuff?! I see you're friends with Jack Bugby who was a Liberty GB MEP candidate recently. He's an interesting character.

chefdave said...

*Where* not "why" :)

Nationalist said...

Thanks for the positive comments. Research? These are just my thoughts on life etc.

As for JB, I don't know him in the offline sense but he has subscribed himself to the blog as anyone can.