Bellingcat: the Russians did it, and we name the names

MikeC

Closed Account
The latest analysis from Bellingcat states that hey are pretty sure the missile was fired by a regular Russian AA missile unit - the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade.

They have identified this unit as the one that transported missiles to Ukraine, and believe it is highly likely that its servicemen weer in control of the missiles:

There is no direct evidence indicating if it was Russian or separatist soldiers who operated Buk 3×2 when it was in Ukraine. However, considering the complexity of the Buk-M1 system, it is most likely that the Russian military did not transfer a Buk missile launcher to separatist commanders without some guidance or a Russian crew. In the likely case that the Buk 3×2 did come with a Russian crew, it is almost certain that they were from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, which was deployed at the border throughout the summer of 2014.
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MikeC

Closed Account
What - proof that Bellingcat release the report??

Or proof that Russia "did it"?

I haven't claimed Russia did it - I have noted that Bellingcat have released their report. If yo have a problem with the evidence they produce take it up with them! :p
 

Herman Aven

Member
Well, I'm not sure how Bellingcat's new analysis could be falsified at all. It's really more like an investigation into the structure and whereabouts of Russia's 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, which is not really disputed anywhere. Perhaps it could be tested if the foundation, the social media supplied visual imagery, is reliable enough to make the link?

Here's an interesting attempt or counter-claim by "freelance" investigator and computer programmer Sergey Mastepanov to discredit the base video evidence by showing some potential discrepancies and demonstrate how easily such evidence could be manipulated by anyone with modest means. Which considering the stakes is not something to dismiss out of hand or categorize as "unlikely".

MH17: The Buk videos are fake

MH17: Fake photo was used to falsely claim there was a Russian Buk in Ukraine

But I don't think Bellingcat has anything yet nearing a claim here. It seems more like a collection of data which only makes sense if earlier claims about the supplied visual evidence would have any substance to it. However some of Bellingcat's earlier claims regarding rocket trajectories, crater analysis , Error Level Analysis (ELA) and Photoshop metadata of JPG imagery have all been seriously challenged in the past and even ridiculed by notable experts in the field. How trustworthy could their other analysis then be, unless we can trace it ourselves back to the source in every detail?

And should visual evidence not be corroborated by other sources? Where are the interviews, anonymized witnesses, snitches and different lines of evidence in this report, tying the soldiers to the MH-17 event? After naming all the soldiers involved, Bellingcat also claims: "There is no direct evidence that soldiers or officers of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade were part of the crew of the Buk-M1 that likely downed MH17 on 17 July 2014".

In other words the topic title "we name the names" is wrong as the report does not provide any direct evidence and forms therefore no substantial claim, at most additional circumstance and detail added to earlier claims.
 

Elfenlied

Member
However, considering the complexity of the Buk-M1 system, it is most likely that the Russian military did not transfer a Buk missile launcher to separatist commanders without some guidance or a Russian crew. In the likely case that the Buk 3×2 did come with a Russian crew, it is almost certain that they were from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, which was deployed at the border throughout the summer of 2014.
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Why would the complexity of the Buk system matter when only a Buk launcher was used, without acquisition radar, command or logistic components.
Why would rebels receive training in the use of the Buk launcher (a claim made by the Pentagon in the days after the crash of MH17) when they were supplied with a Russian crew?
The situation as it existed in Ukraine did not require an experienced crew or a complete Buk system to be effective. This wasn't like the Egyptians against the Israeli air force in the early '70s, or the Syrians in Lebanon in '82. The Egyptians did well thanks to the experienced Soviet advisors, the Syrians lost 17 of 19 SAM batteries in the first attack. But both were fighting a capable air force, not one decimated by rebels with MANPADS.
It doesn't take much training to shoot down an aircraft with a Buk, it does however require experience to differentiate between a passenger and a military plane, something the crew failed to do.

The Buk-M1 (SA-11 Gadfly to NATO) can be used by minimally trained operators to deliver a lethal attack, without the safeguards built into other comparable GBADS, an Aviation Week analysis shows. It is also ...
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http://aviationweek.com/defense/buk-missile-system-lethal-undiscriminating (registration required for the full report)

American officials believe the missile that destroyed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was fired by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, using a Russian-made system designed for bringing down fighter jets. That brings up the question: How easy is it to bring down a passenger jet with a weapon that’s meant to used by trained soldiers?

Turns out, it’s pretty easy. As in, take a three-day course and go for it easy.
[..]

“Once the radar picks up a target, it is a matter of telling the system that it should engage the target and issuing a fire command,” says Paul Huter, an aerospace engineer at Lockheed Martin. That involves following a checklist and selecting the target, either by clicking on a screen or pushing a button (or clicking with a mouse on a screen, depending on the system model). Training would consist of running through that procedure in various conditions, and would be so straightforward, Huter says, that “it is certainly possible for someone with no training to read through the checklist and successfully engage a target.”
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http://www.wired.com/2014/07/sa-11-missiles-easy-to-use/
 

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