Russia’s Defense Ministry And Vladimir Putin Responsible for MH17 Crash
On February 24, 2016 Bellingcat has released its new report on the Russian anti-aircraft missile brigade that, as Bellingcat analysts assume, provided and possibly operated the Buk that downed MH17 on June 17, 2014.
From June 23 to 25, 2014, Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade transported several Buk-M1 anti-aircraft missile systems to areas near the Russia-Ukraine border. It is possible to trace the 53rd Brigade’s journey from its base in Kursk, Russia to near the Russia-Ukraine border. One of the Buks from the convoy was quite similar to the Buk seen in Donetsk, Ukraine on the day of the tragedy.
According to the report, the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade has transferred the Buk-M1 to the militants. Besides, it is most likely that Buk operators belonged to the brigade as well.
The third section of the report, “Soldiers of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade,” details the soldiers within the 53rd Brigade and the information provided by their public postings on social media. The soldiers of the 2nd Battalion provided a wealth of information, including photographs and written notes, describing their time on the Russia-Ukraine border in June and July, 2014. More extensive details are provided regarding the soldiers who were normally responsible for the Buk missile launcher numbered 222, which was replaced by Buk 3×2, which we believe downed MH17.
The final and most important section, “Commanders of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade,” provides extensive information regarding the leadership structure of the brigade and battalion that provided and possibly operated the likely murder weapon in the downing of MH17.
“We provide partially anonymized information regarding 14 officers of the 2nd Battalion of the 53rd Brigade, including the commanders of the Buk unit vehicles within the battalion. Sergey Borisovich Muchkaev, the commander of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, is closely detailed, along with his superiors, including Aleksey Zolotov of the Air Defense of the 20th Guards Army and Andrey Kokhanov of the Air Defense of the Western Military District”, analysts report.
According to the report, the responsibility for the downing of MH17 from a weapon provided and possibly operated by the Russian military lies with the Ministry of Defense and the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces, President Vladimir Putin.
As previously reported, on February 24 Bellingcat was supposed to release report on Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, which, Bellingcat believes, is responsible for providing the Buk-M1 system that downed MH17.
The full text of the report is available here.