MH17 – another BUK on another Day

July 12, 2015

Mainstream media start to acknowledge Kiev lied about not having jet fighters in the air. Good moment to look at alternative Buk narratives.

Broken Buk at Ukrainian airbase A-1428 in Avdeevka (source)

Written and originally posted by: H

An Alternative Track Trail

At this moment the ¨track trail theory¨ (= the theory which states a Russian crew dragged a Buk system on a Volvo truck through rebel controlled territory to Snizhne to shoot down MH17 by mistake) has been appointed by the Joint Investigation Team as ¨most important scenario¨ regarding the origins of the MH17 disaster. This theory is supported by a trail of photos, videos and eyewitness accounts published at social media, allegedly showing the transport of a BUK installation to a launch site and back over the Russian border.

The theory is not indisputable. Several severe doubts arise when taking a close inspection at the evidence. [1]

In this article I want to propose a scenario of an alternative track trail pivoting around the idea rebels transported another BUK on another day. They could have been followed by SBU agents in the field and from positions in ¨safe houses¨ along the road, taking pics and vids. When MH17 was downed this stuff could be used in a very convenient way.

Precise date evidence: Unknown

The unique truck with low-loader, carrying the BUK to its destiny, pops up four times in the track trail theory. Immediately it becomes clear in none of these cases an original date is verifiable.

1) Photo Paris Match in Donetsk: source unknown (allegedly a freelance photographer who wants to stay anonymous); time of day confirmed by analysis of shadowcasting.

2) A copy of the video showing the truck in Zuhres: original was posted at Youtube but deleted half an hour afterwards.

3) Photo of the truck with BUK at a crossroads behind the Furshet market in Torez: source unknown, time of day calculated with the help of shadowcasting analysis.

4) SBU (Ukrainian secret service) Youtube video of a fleeing BUK missing one missile made in Luhansk: according to an unverifiable and questionable statement made by the SBU, timed at 4:50 AM at the 18th of July.

The unique truck in the Bellingcat report. From upper left and clockwise: Paris Match photo Donetsk; still from Zuhres video; SBU video Luhansk; photo Furshet market Torez.

Other evidence doesn´t show the unique truck, like the picture of a part of an offloaded BUK @GirkinGirkin took in Snizhne.

Neither does the footage that shows a self propelling ¨tankish¨ construction driving itself to the launch site somewhere on the road from Snizhne to Pervomaiske. Of course the truck doesn´t appear visually either in the eyewitness accounts tweeted at social media (see p. 5-8 Bellingcat report)

So in theory an alternative scenario is possible. Maybe this transport took place under rebel control, but with another BUK on another date.

A new start

Of course some issues have to be resolved to give some solid basis to this idea. Obviously the rebels must have had a BUK launcher in their possession to start with. Well, they had after they ran over Ukrainian Donetsk airbase A-1402 on the 29th of June:

Donetsk militia seized the military defense of the A-1402. Point defense is a division of missile troops which is equipped with the self-propelled anti-aircraft missile systems “Buk”. This is the second unit of the Air Force which passed under the control of militias in recent days. One of them surrendered voluntarily, with the second there were many hours of fighting, according to RIA “Novosti”.

Although this victory had been celibrated all over the Russian media – though without putting a BUK at hand, working or otherwise [2]– some sources claimed the Russians had disseminated disinformation in order to get the opportunity for providing the heavy anti aircraft missiles themselves.

Other sources contested. In October 2014 the German secret service BND stated in the German parliament they had clues which would indicate the rebels seized a BUK complex from army base A-1402. AlsoThe Interpreter Magazine, owned by Putin foe Khodorkovsky, used the news as an opportunity to put a ¨smoking gun¨ in the hands of the rebels, after the MH17 crash had happened (¨Evidence of separatist possession of BUK system before downing MH17¨, 2014/7/27) In fact, before Bellingcat issued its report blaming the Russians directly for handing over a deadly weapon, in november 2014, the scenario of the seized BUK was paramount.

So the ¨terrorists¨ do have a BUK!

In the period prior to the disaster Ukrainian officials made contradictory statements. When on an international stage Russian involvement in the civil war had to be pointed out, it appeared to be convenient to deny the rebels were in possession of a self captured BUK complex. Of course in that case they would have obtained their weapons directly from the Russians.

But according to Ukrainian media the claim the rebels had seized a BUK was corroborated by some Ukrainian officials. For example ATO (Anti-Terrorism Operation) chief Alex Dmitrashkovskiy would have stated a BUK had been lost. But at the same time he soothed the Ukrainian public with the phrase it was a ¨non-working, broken installation¨, actually ¨junk¨. [3]

According to a Russian source national security advisor Andriy Lysenko also stated the seized BUK didn´t function:

¨And yesterday, the representative of the information center of the National Security and Defense of Ukraine Andriy Lysenko also confirmed the capture of anti-aircraft missile regiment. He said: “(…) By decision of the commander all the equipment had been taken out of order and was not working… “

Even the chief of the counter-espionage department of the SBU, Vitaliy Naida, was fully informed, according to the Wall Street Journal:

¨Ukrainian rebels boasted on social media on June 29 that they gained control of a Buk-M1 system when they overran a Ukrainian armed forces base in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported. Mr. Naida said that Ukrainian armed forces made that system nonoperational back in March, around the time when the fighting in the area kicked off. The core of the missile system remains on the base, but there are no warheads to arm it, he said.¨

Now that has been established the rebels may have had possession of a (broken) BUK from the moment they had raided Ukrainian army base A-1402, the question arises if they did something with it. Maybe they moved it, for example to have it repaired, as a statement by the Russian scientist Sergey Kurginyan possibly might explain:

¨But, our very talented and even brilliant electronics experts will of course repair — I think they’ve even already repaired, it seems to me — the Buk system seized from the Ukrainian bandits — the Banderaites — I don’t want to say ‘the Ukrainian people’ but the bandits and the Banderaites and in the very near future, I simply know a brilliant electronics expert who has flown there — precisely as a representative of civil society who will help the fraternal people. In very short time it will get it back working. It will be fixed, yes? It might even turn out there are even several systems.”

In each case according to the owner of the truck, the unique white Volvo FH-13 with the blue striping and the red low-loader, had been requisitioned by the rebels at the 8th of July [4]. In any logical evaluation the possibility exists the BUK installation could have been moved to Luhansk or Russia between the 8th and 16th of July. One may assume the Ukrainian secret service kept an eye on this BUK, following the transport with an agent in the field and ¨assets¨ from ¨safe houses¨ along the expected route. Probably they made some photos and videos, stuff that appeared to be useful after the MH17 crash.

The game is on

Half an hour after the disaster a dispatch appeared on a pro-rebel page on Vkontakte (Russian Facebook), in name devoted to the Russian commando leader Strelkov. An AN-26 had been shot down near the mine Progress, the message said based on the perception of citizens in the area of the disaster.

The editors, like the people in the neighbourhood of the crashsite according to their social media postings, assumed too early and too eager an AN-26 was downed. Probably they were merely jumping to conclusions because the same event had happened three days before (14 july an AN-26 had been shot down by the rebels). They claimed a ¨success¨ without knowledgde of all the facts and official briefing from men in the field. When it became known MH17 had been victimized, the message was deleted.

People of the other site also got the wrong idea. This deleted message with Strelkov´s name attached to it could be disseminated as evidence the rebels had taken out a civilian plane by mistake. Not only the citizens from Torez and Snizhne initially thought an AN-26 was downed, which were the original sources the ¨Strelkov¨ Vkontakte adiminstrators had used. The rebels and their chief themselves, obviously still clinging to their previously fired weapon, assumed that too when they were targeting the plane.

The suggestion that Strelkov was in any way connected to this site, was of course fallacious. But it was very expedient. With the speed of light the internet was fed by Ukrainian war dispatch services, pro Kiev activists and the western media pundits with the suggestion it was the commander in chief himself who thought he had shot down an Antonov.

The SBU rose to the occasion. Within a few hours a nicely edited, translated and finished up video clip with intercepted phone calls was spread on Youtube in which rebels ¨confessed¨ their mistake. From a computer of the secret service were popping up the photos and videos that were taken when the rebels moved the broken BUK with the Volvo truck and low-loader.

Maybe the SBU had anticipated by creating fake evidence, maybe they made it useful when expedient. In each case the trail theory could be set on track. The Zuhres vid was uploaded, the vid of the lone BUK too. It was made sure these vids arrived at Bellingcat. The photo of the BUK parked in front of the Furshet market in Torez was planted in a local chat community (¨Overheard in Torez¨, chat now deleted) and from there on spread via Vkontakte and Euromaidan. The morning after the SBU posted the Luhansk vid on its website.

Conspiracy theory or serious clues?

Of course, the scenario of an alternative track trail on another day with another BUK is kind of speculative. Nevertheless after a initial superficial inspection can be said there are some clues which could give this theory more credibility.

In an article on the site of the renowned American think tank in the field of military strategy IISS, dated 18 July, Joseph Dempsey reports some social media proof had been found the rebels had possession of a BUK before the 17th of July.

¨Pro-Russian separatist access to medium-range surface-to-air missiles (…) Prior to 17 July 2014 IISS analysts had seen limited evidence of the self-propelled launcher in separatist hands. Whilst images on social media have been noted which claim to show Buk, the actual date, location, ownership and/or operational status could not be verified.”

The picture below, attached to an alleged tweet from the militia, would suggest the militants of the DNR would have seized a working BUK. Apparently the pic is only an illustration, for as it already surfaced in social media way back in 2011 [5]. Nevertheless, if we assume the message is real and posted like a kind of trophee, it seems to be capturing some of that ¨limited evidence¨ the IISS guy spoke about.

Citizen researcher Max van der Werff, who has an extensive blog about the MH17 disaster, made a trip to the region in which the plane crashed, looking for evidence. According to a tweet he spoke to a witness who had a very interesting explanation. This witness, living across the Furshet Market in Torez where the BUK had been photographed at the crossroads, said (s)he saw the BUK all right, not at the 17th though, but at a previous date.

Blogging researcher Barry Hamill even believes that the Torez photo would already have been posted on July 16 at the site It would have been sent by an avatar called ¨Toter Mann¨ (¨dead man¨ in German), who came up rather early with this evidence of the BUK trail through rebel controlled area, according to the calculation of Hamill. The original message would have been deleted but the replies made after the 17th are still there as silent witnesses.

According to Barry Hamill a poster ¨Toter Mann¨ put the Torez photo at the site before the 17th. Others crowdsourcers noticed the same inconsistency too.

Ukrainian official from the Interior Anton Gerashchenko reported in a facebook message within two hours after the disaster that local citizens in Torez had seen a BUK complex moving ¨from Torez to Snizhne¨. Curiously enough, there are hardly any solid records and reports of the many journalists on the spot in Snizhne, on a day when fierce battles on the front line south of the city were expected. One AP journalist would have seen the BUK, but attempts to get his identity stranded. Like is the case with the Paris Match pic not even the original journalist source behind this testimony could be disclosed to the public.

Inconsistent twitter testimonies

Supportive evidence for the track trail theory allegedly arises from some messages at social media, i.e. Twitter and the Russian Vkontakte:

@WowihaY (12:07 EEST) sees a covered BUK with four missiles in Torez;

Roman/@MOR2537 sees (probably at 12:10 EEST) a ¨covered wheeled missile system on a tractor and two cars through Torez to Snizhne¨

@WowihaY (12:16 EEST) sees the ¨BUK moving from Torez to Snizhne¨;

@Buzzing_Rook, answering @WowihaY (12:32 EEST), says the alleged BUK had been in Donetsk, on its way to Makiivka;

@Spice4Russia (12:41 EEST) sees 3 tanks and a netted BUK in Shakhtarsk;

Anna Reshtanenko and a friend (13:14 EEST, VKontakte) see a convoy consisting of ¨three tanks¨ in Torez on its way to Snizhne;

What probably should be clear right away is the inconsistency of these accounts regarding the line up of the convoy. One witness sees only a BUK (WowihaY), one a BUK and two cars (Roman), one three tanks and a BUK (Spice4Russia), another only three tanks (Anna).

Buzzing_Rook´s tweet, addressed to WowihaY, actually seems to elaborate upon those two earlier reports made by WowihaY. Perhaps the observer is interpreting that what he saw, must have been a ¨BUK¨, but actually the precise description of the tankish construction came from the WowihaY message. Moreover, it´s a bit dubious as it is, Wowihay detected a BUK loaded with “four missiles”, since the installation had been covered.

Second, apart from Anna and her friend, the other testimonies arrive from a small group of ultranationalists, or ¨local patriots¨ as the head of Information Resistance Dmitriy Tymchuk likes to call them. Wowihay, Roman, Buzzing_Rook and probably Spice4Russia belong, together with ¨launch plume pic¨ photographer @rescuero and @GirkinGirkin (see below), to a interconnected group of people who knew each other well before the 17th, according to their social media contacts. Taking a first glance at their twitter accounts it becomes clear they all have a preference for following pro-Kiev ultranationalist or even rightwing extremist groups and warriors.

In fact it´s pretty strange only a handful of pro-Kiev ultranationalists said they saw the BUK, a weapon that would be welcomed by the people of Torez and Snizhne because of the heavy airstrikes they were suffering from these days. No pro-separatist sources claimed to have seen it though, where on the other hand from other convoys a fair amount of dashcam vids can be found on social media.

It seems the accounts aren´t very reliable. In each case it doesn´t become clear which convoy actually has been seen, not in the least because at the 17th various convoys (i.e. The ¨Vostok¨ and ¨Oplot¨ convoys) moved to or stayed in the vicinity of Snizhne. So it´s advisable to dismiss these accounts as evidence for the particular BUK transport altogether.

Three smelly videos

The original link of the Zuhres vid was uploaded by an anonymous person who used the Youtube account only once, for uploading this video, and then deleted it. According to Marilyn Justice, writing in a reply on my ¨Over mij¨ page on this blog, the person who posted the Zuhres video had no ‘net presence’ before or after posting the video. So she started asking questions to Bellingcat´s Aric Toller:

MJ: [the original URL of the deleted vid; HR] … maybe u can explain where this came from (this is about the 15 sec video now removed)

Was posted on Youtube and Twitter by “Андрей” on 7/17 with coordinates. That’s all we know.

My question – how was it found – zero identifiers by a person with no net presence before or after?

I actually did find their Twitter account, but it was deleted. Probably created accounts just for video

That does not answer how it was found, sorry

Won’t satisfy you, but here is the person who posted video:

So Aric Toller said he found a twitter account, but it is clear this twitter account found him or his boss Eliot Higgins, pointing them head on towards the Youtube vid for a quick download, exact coordinates for geolocation provided in the package too. But then again, because the genuine video has been deleted, it is impossible to say from which date this source originates.

Also from the vid showing a lone BUK on the road from Sniznhe to Pervomaiske on its way to its deadly encounter with MH17 oozes an equally funny smell, as Michael Kobs shows in his well documented report about the track trail evidence.

As occured with the Zuhres video also this video had been posted from an account used only once for this particular purpose before it was deleted. Hence, again, no original date could be established. In his report Kobs reaches a conclusion well fit for the alternative track trail that says all footage and photos could well have been made at another day:

¨Ob das Video überhaupt an diesem Tag entstanden ist, kann selbst Bellingcat nur raten¨
(Whether this video really was made at this day [the 17th] is even a mystery to Bellingcat¨) (page 13-15, see also note 1 for URL).

Fortunately the mysterious person made sure Eliot Higgins could download the evidence. Within the 24 minutes the vid was online it received so many clicks it reached the daily top thirty, which may have got the attention of Bellingcat whisperers.

Nevertheless the poster made very sure the vid was picked up by the right parties. According to the Amnesty International Youtube DataViewer, which guarantees the right metadata of an uploaded video, three copies of the deleted lone BUK video were instantly re-uploaded within minutes by Eliot Higgins, Euromaidan and [6]. is a local website co-administrated by Vladimir Djukov, alias @WowihaY, the same person of two witness accounts and the first to tweet the incredible important picture of the alleged plume of a BUK launch. Obviously the source knew which way to go to get the right attention.

The Luhanks vid doesn´t smell any better. Journalist Vincent Verweij of KRO Brandpunt (Dutch news show), and others, casted doubts about the SBU Luhansk video of the fleeing truck missing one BUK missile months ago. The road the truck had been geolocated on probably wasn´t even under control by rebels on the particular period in time when the plane was downed. Verweij had access to a map that showed the situation on July 17/18, 2014 in West Luhansk, which was very complicated. Heavy fighting took place in the vicinity of this alleged escape route, so this hardly could be a reasonable way to flee the country (besides, it was a very strange route from Snizhne to the Russian border as it was, because of the inexplicable detour that would have been made).

LiveUAmap Green area: the truck with the BUK installation missing one missile drove through Ukrainian army controlled area

Also Arnold Greidanus, who performed much social media research on the MH17 disaster, added doubt to the date on which the SBU claimed it had made the video of the fleeing BUK. For sure it seemed Ukraine had access to the video before the morning of July 18:

¨Then there’s another oddity: earlier on the 17th, before the news on the downing of MH17 had spread, some news stories were published that earlier that day Andrej Lysenko had stated that the separatists had possession of a BUK, and that they had a video of a convoy with BUK in Luhansk! Could it be that the video referred to here is the Luhansk video and that this video was actually made earlier than in the early morning of the 18th?¨

See his elaboration here

That would obviously raise serious problems for the track trail theory. First, there wouldn´t be any evidence left of the flight of the transport towards Russia (by the way, neither was there any proof the BUK had been transported to starting point Donetsk the night before for that matter). But also the theory of an alternative BUK trail would arrive a little bit closer to reality again. When the SBU Luhanks video of the truck with the unique blue lining had been taken before the early morning of the 18th, then – given that uniqueness – all other stuff could also have been made at an earlier date. This is nothing more than reasoning the same way Bellingcat does: all evidence has to stem from the same day.


1. The photo of the truck with BUK parked in front of the Furshet market in Torez could have been uploaded a day before the MH17 crash;

2. The video of the SBU (Ukrainian secret service) in Luhansk can not be dated; The Luhanks vid is actually from an earlier date as can be deducted from a Lysenko presser;

3. The Paris Match photo and Zuhres footage of the unique Volvo truck can´t be dated either, stem from unknown sources and may be from a previous date as well;

4. Text messages on Twitter and Vkontakte are unreliable or report other (tank) transportation;

5. From the video of the lone BUK that drives itself to the crime scene, the original source and date are unclear. It could well have been made before the 17th.

So was there a BUK transport at all on July the 17th?

The only proof still remaining of the trail through rebel held territory, is the photo GirkinGirkin took, hanging out in an apartment in Snizhne. He apparently saw an offloaded BUK, parked behind a building.

Striking element of this evidence is the text GirkinGirkin tweeted along with his pic, mentioning a Russian crew accompanying the BUK. Would he have heard them? Has he seen them in their deviating uniforms? In any case, given the importance of this testimony, it must have been recorded officially, something that will be proven when the final report of the investigators is issued.

Whether Bellingcat has possession of the original time stamp of this photograph or hasn´t, is unknown to me. However, in their report about the track trail theory the time of the offloaded BUK pic has been determined by performing shadowcasting analysis, as was done in other cases in which metadata about the exact timestamp were missing. The date, therefore, still remains open to speculation, until the photographer or Bcat provides the metadata of the photo. For that matter GirkinGirkin himself didn´t respond to a question from a Twitter user to send him the original image (see replies in link above).

Though it will enhance the status of this piece of evidence, even if the metadata would have been released, the exact date would still be in doubt. Michael Kobs says: ¨Even a bad handy shot has a date and time, but you would need the original file. Nevertheless such a pic is easy to manipulate

Higgins hears no evil, sees no evil

When I asked Eliot Higgins what he thought of my alternative theory, at first he replied that in his opinion it was ¨not convincing¨. Later he claimed to have done research to any previous material (dated before 17 July) but couldn´t come up with anything. Obviously I tried to question Dempsey, the IISS think-tank member, what he thought of Higgins’ statement, but it is still awfully quiet from the United States. Maybe someone would have to get his hands on the scripts, bots, queries and results of those crowdsourcing searches performed by Bellingcat or IISS. But that will probably be a tough job (so much for open source).

Although the alternative track trail is an idea with quite a lot of snags, one could imagine at least the following questions arise:

– What do the separatists claim themselves regarding the Volvo transport?
– What has happened to the broken BUK they allegedly seized on June 29th?
– What do the separatists claim themselves about what happened to this alleged inoperable BUK?
– Is it possible to locate more witnesses or evidence of any transportation previous to the 17th?

Perhaps journalists in the field should look at the BUK trace with a more open, independent view. Perhaps an impartial social media researcher may interfere with the evidence that in any case should exist, according to a US think tank. Candidates will at least find a sympathetic ear with me.

For now it suffices to say one may reach a diametrical opposed position based on the same evidence Bellingcat uses, supported by some other crowdsourcing one could do for himself. In other words, clearly other scenarios than the one Bellingcat peddles are possible as well, even if we act as if this evidence doesn´t have SBU fingerprints all over it. Unfortunately neither Bellingcat nor the officials of the JIT or Dutch Department of Justice seem to be searching in other directions.

[1]See Michael Kobs report (German)
See Report Sergey Mastepanov (English)
See my article (Dutch)

[2] It seems two Russian Press Agencies brought the news at June 29th. First, RIA Novosti has been cited by some sources, claiming the rebels gained control over airbase A-1402, which had been armed with self-propelled complexes ¨BUK¨:

17:43 MSK,

17:45 EEST,

17:45 UTC+3,
Небо над Донецком будут защищать зенитно-ракетные комплексы “Бук”

19:05 MSK,

19:50 MSK (copy vesti)

Later on Press Agency ITAR-TASS reported the raid as well, but their press statement didn´t mention the rebels took hold of a BUK. It claimed ¨the number and condition of facilities, at the disposal of the militias, remained unknown¨.

18:50 EEST Ополченцы ДНР взяли под контроль воинскую часть ПВО с зенитно-ракетными комплексами “Бук”; DONETSK, 29 june. / ITAR-TASS /

According to Sergey Mastepanov (see report note 1, page 5) the Russian outlets didn´t claim explicitly the rebels seized a BUK when they raided the Ukrainian airforce base A-1402. Even so it was taken for granted, especially in the reports that used the RIA Novosti dispatch, they had taken possession of BUK complexes too. However, the official RIA Novosti website doesn´t show this press release, see, so maybe they put it on the telex. So no Russian or rebel sources explicitly claimed to have seized a BUK, broken or working, though obviously it can´t be ruled out they did.

[3] Though some Ukrainian officials denied the rebels seized a BUK at the 29th, others confirmed. At the 29th some Ukrainian news outlets came up with high ranked officials – ATO chief Dmitrashkovskiy was mentioned first – who added to their confirmation the seized BUK was inoperable.

19:19 EEST Боевики частично захватили военную часть противовоздушной обороны в Донецке.

20:02 EEST

22:33 EEST ¨Захваченный в Донецке боевиками «ДНР» зенитный ракетный комплекс «Бук» в нерабочем состоянии (¨By ´DNR´ militants in Donetsk captured anti-aircraft missile complex ´Buk´ inoperative¨)

According to Sergey Mastepanov this might have been a set-up, though the motives the Ukrainians might have had for this remain unclear.

[4] The original interview of the company owner with a Lithuanian newspaper, claiming the unique truck is his:

In English:

[5] See Mastepanov report, page 22.

[6] The Amnesty International Youtube Data Viewer proves the deleted video of the lone BUK moving to the alleged launch site was re-uploaded by three trustworthy parties within minutes from each other. A SBU stench is all over it.

I. Brown Moses, alias of Eliot Higgins (first uploading source known!)
Орудие убийства малайзийцев Снежное 17 07 2014
Video ID:MiI9s-zWLs4
Upload Date (YYYY/MM/DD):2014-07-17
Upload Time (UTC):18:41:13

II. Euromaidan
AA “BUK” vehicle Pro-Kremlin fighters going from Torez to Snizhne (Установка Бук террористов перемещается с Тореза в Снежное.)
Video ID:wkgwxxhJlk4
Upload Date (YYYY/MM/DD): 2014-07-17
Upload Time (UTC): 18:44:55

III. (@WowihaY)
Торез Снежное Появились первые кадры виновника смерти 300 пассажиров гражданского самолета
Утановка БУК в Торез Коментарии отключаю. С тупоголовой ватой – только в коментах срач
Video ID:OAxpT5AikhQ
Upload Date (YYYY/MM/DD): 2014-07-17
Upload Time (UTC): 18:45:58