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Old 07-20-2014, 08:30 AM   #101
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But who to trust though? The Ukrainians have said the rebels don't have an operating missile system, the rebels themselves say the same thing, and if it so happened that the Russians sent it across the border and the rebels received it then the Ukrainians would find out easily.
I thought the rebels did claim earlier that they had captured a SAM system. And as for Ukraine finding out when the rebels would have such a system, earlier in the week the rebels had shot down a military transport aircraft (from the Ukraine military). Granted, that aircraft wasn't flying at 10 km up in the air (I believe it was 7 km or so), but still.

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It boggles the mind, in the event that this is true it would be a silly move on the part of the rebels and Russia, though even if an operational missile system was in their possession (I'm feeling doubtful about this, to just lug a large missile system in to shoot down a civilian plane and then lug it back over the border again sounds farfetched)
I think you have to disregard the premise the rebels (with help from Russia) did all of this just to shoot down a civilian plane. In my view, that was never their plan. They wanted to have and use a large missile system to shoot down Ukraine military aircrafts. That was their reason get hands on a SAM system (whether capturing one from the Ukraine military or provided by Russia). Of course, now that they accidentally shot down a civilian aircraft they wanted to have it back over the border again as soon as possible. They don't want any evidence of that.
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Old 07-20-2014, 08:49 AM   #102
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I thought the rebels did claim earlier that they had captured a SAM system. And as for Ukraine finding out when the rebels would have such a system, earlier in the week the rebels had shot down a military transport aircraft (from the Ukraine military). Granted, that aircraft wasn't flying at 10 km up in the air (I believe it was 7 km or so), but still.
They did, you're correct, but they were always upfront about it not being operational and that it was in repairs at the time that the plane was struck. Ukraine did state that if they were to leave behind any weapons or artillery that they made sure that they were damaged and not readily used by the rebels.

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I think you have to disregard the premise the rebels (with help from Russia) did all of this just to shoot down a civilian plane. In my view, that was never their plan. They wanted to have and use a large missile system to shoot down Ukraine military aircrafts. That was their reason get hands on a SAM system (whether capturing one from the Ukraine military or provided by Russia). Of course, now that they accidentally shot down a civilian aircraft they wanted to have it back over the border again as soon as possible. They don't want any evidence of that.
Right, although I'm still not convinced that it was them who shot the plane down. I don't think any of the parties would have wanted this to happen.

At the time being it just seems futile to speculate, and although it's the unlikeliest scenario of the lot, I don't think the effect of the reported presence of two jet fighters can be completely discounted yet. But it's all just a circle of conflicting info and it's really hard to decipher what is truth and what is wrong.
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Old 07-20-2014, 10:13 AM   #103
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I think it's as good as fact that the rebels didn't have the necessary systems to shoot it down.
I have no idea how you came to this conclusion, much less how you're stating it as a fact.

There are plenty of nations with space satellites that have the capability of pinpointing the origin of the missile. The Americans have already unequivocally stated that it was from rebel-held territory and to my knowledge no other nation with satellite access has disputed it.

So there are really two options - the rebels shot the plane down, or the Russians crossed the border and did it. Since #2 makes no sense at all, it stands that #1 is it.
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Old 07-20-2014, 06:52 PM   #104
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From Business Insider:

There's A Mountain Of Evidence Linking Russia To The Downing Of The Malaysia Airliner

by PAUL SZOLDRA

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There's a growing body of evidence that has emerged that links Russia to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, despite the best efforts of pro-Russian militants to scrub the record.

Just 25 miles from Donetsk in pro-Russian held territory, the flight carrying 298 passengers and crew was brought down on Thursday, killing everyone on board. The U.S. believes it was likely shot down by an SA-11 missile fired from a Buk surface-to-air missile system.

Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and pro-Russian militants have deflected, attempting to blame Ukraine for the crash. Later, the top rebel commander put forth a conspiracy theory that the passengers actually died days before, The Washington Times reports.

While a full investigation of the site could help vindicate Russia and confirm these theories, it's noteworthy that pro-Russian militants have continually blocked workers from going near the crash, according to The New York Times and others.

As we look at the evidence available, it's easy to see why.

Pro-Russian militants allegedly discussed the receipt of Buk missile systems just days before.

On July 14, a pro-Russian militant and a man identified as "Oreon," an intelligence officer with Russia, allegedly talk about taking down planes with Buk missile systems, according to audio released by Ukraine's security service.

"Excellent. They [militants in rebel territory proclaimed as Donetsk People's Republic] are avenging for planes today, but we have a couple of days more," Oreon allegedly says. "We already have Buk, we'll be shooting down them to hell."

As The Interpreter notes, at several points in the conversation, separatists talk about the Buk missile system crossing the border, along with Russian crews. The recordings, presented by Kiev as key evidence of Moscow's involvement with the rebels, was confirmed as authentic by U.S. intelligence analysts, AFP reported Sunday.

Video posted online shows a Buk missile launcher traveling through the rebel-held town of Snizhne.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs released a video it described as a Buk missile system being transported in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. This video, which appears to show a Buk (with one missile missing), could not be independently verified.

But another video posted to YouTube on July 17 is much more revealing. It was described as showing a Buk traveling near Snizhne, a rebel-controlled area southeast of the MH17 crash site. While the original video was removed for unknown reasons, Eliot Higgins, a well-respected blogger who specializes in identifying weapons in Syria and Ukraine, confirmed the location as Snizhne through geolocation techniques.

A reporter with The Associated Press on the ground in Snizhne also observed the Buk missile system, along with seven rebel-owned tanks parked at a gas station. In an interview with Business Insider, a resident spotted the missile system in Torez as it was being towed to Snizhne.

The Buk is a highly sophisticated system that requires specialized training to operate.

In a briefing at the Pentagon on Friday, Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters that it "strains credulity" to think pro-Russian separatists believed to have shot down MH17 didn't have at least some help from Moscow. Kirby said the Buk is a "sophisticated piece of technology" that would likely require technical assistance from Russia.

Indeed, Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove said in June the U.S. military's intelligence was that rebels were being trained in tanks and anti-aircraft capability across the border, before heading back into eastern Ukraine to put it into practice.

According to IHS Jane's Defense, a resource for intelligence and defense analysis, operating a Buk requires a trained crew. While the government of Ukraine also has Buk missile systems, Jane's notes that the Ukrainian military has none of the systems in the region near the MH17 crash, as they were overtaken by pro-Russian separatists.

"The system is not a simple system to use. You need at least four to six months of training and ongoing training to operate it," Ronald Bishop, a former U.S. Air Force missile expert, told Australia's Warwick Daily News. "To fire this system you need to have highly-specialized military training."

The pro-Russian separatist leader boasted on social media of downing an aircraft shortly after MH17 went down.

Posting on VKontakte, Russia's version of Facebook, the pro-Russian leader Igor Strelkov wrote that "we have warned them — not to fly 'in our sky.'" Strelkov, a Russian citizen who is linked to Russian intelligence, said an AN-26 (a Ukrainian military transport) had been shot down, apparently not realizing MH17 was a civilian airliner.

Some have questioned whether this posting was "faked" or came from an unofficial Strelkov fan group. The Interpreter, which has tracked the Ukraine conflict long before MH17, notes the posting is very likely legitimate, as it was cited by a number of Russian news websites who often quote from "Strelkov's Dispatches" as official word from the rebels.

Catherine Fitzpatrick at The Interpreter writes:

From our long observation of this Vkontakte group and other Strelkov-related pages, we would have to say this is not the case – this group’s publications have long been cited by regional media and the same talking points as the dispatch were also used by Russian state media and Ukrainian media from other separatist sources .

First, the VKontakte group isn’t just a random fan group; it’s an established group of supporters now numbering more than 137,000 followers which has been publishing “Strelkov Dispatches” for weeks, many of which have tracked events corroborated by other sources or which are consistent with the separatists’ narrative as Strelkov himself says on camera in video addresses or at news conferences uploaded to YouTube.

Pro-Russian militants were reportedly caught on an audio recording talking about shooting down a military transport before realizing they had likely downed a civilian plane.

Shortly after the airliner had crashed, pro-Russian militants were reportedly caught on leaked phone calls, apparently discussing the shooting before eventually realizing they had shot down a civilian aircraft instead of a military target.

"It’s 100% a passenger aircraft,” a militant nicknamed "Major" is recorded as saying, noting that he saw no weapons nearby. "Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper."

In another of the leaked calls, one militant asks, "What was it doing in Ukraine's territory?" Another, identified as Nikolay Kozitsin, responds, "That means they were carrying spies. F--- them, got it? ... They shouldn't be f---ing flying. There is a war going on."

Militants have allegedly tried to destroy evidence and block investigators and reporters from the crash site.


If the pro-Russian militants are confident that it was the government of Ukraine that shot down MH17, it would make sense that they would allow a full investigation and keep the crash site undisturbed so that link could be made. But as many have found out, they have been doing the exact opposite.
Besides deleting many of the social-media postings already referenced, militants blocked observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) from going to the crash site, at one point even firing a warning shot, Spencer Ackerman reports in The Guardian.

"The assumption is they're trying to remove evidence of what they did," a senior U.S. official briefed on the latest intelligence told The Wall Street Journal on Saturday.

In another phone call released by Ukraine's security service, pro-Russian militants sound frantic in their search for the MH17 black box. "I'll try to find out [where the box is]," a militant named "Oleksiy" says. His commander responds, "Do it really quick. Urgently. Moscow asks where the boxes are," while urging the militant to keep the black box out of the hands of the OSCE.

Pro-Russian separatists said on Sunday they had what were presumed to be the black boxes under their control, which were delivered to Donetsk, according to Reuters.

The government of Ukraine alleged that the pro-Russian separatists removed 38 bodies from the field and brought them to a mortuary in Donetsk, in addition to requesting heavy trucks to carry wreckage to Russia, The Guardian reports.

In response to bodies being moved, a rebel commander only known as "Grumpy" gave The Guardian neither confirmation or denial: "Maybe they did it, maybe not. I personally didn't do that."


"At this stage, any talk of a credible [MH17] investigation is ridiculous," tweeted Max Seddon, a reporter with BuzzFeed who has been to the scene of the crash. "It'll be a small miracle if relatives get the bodies semi-intact." In a report of what he has seen at the site posted at BuzzFeed, Seddon wrote that "Grumpy" has let no one pass.

Intelligence and satellite imagery gathered by the U.S. and EU, along with an investigation on the ground, will almost certainly turn up more information on what happened to MH17. But the open-source intelligence suggests pro-Russian rebels, aided by Moscow, likely shot down what they thought was a military aircraft.

IHS Jane's Reuben Johnson writes:

The most plausible theory, said a NATO intelligence specialist, is that the separatists believed that they were shooting at another military target like the Antonov An-26 that was brought down earlier that week. “When they saw that they had instead shot down a Malaysian airliner they panicked, which accounts for their panicked deletions of all social media postings related to this incident,” said the NATO source.

"This definitely could have been an error," Steve Zaloga, a missile systems expert, told Technology Review.
Evidence Linking Russia To The Downing Of The Malaysia Airliner - Business Insider
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Old 07-20-2014, 10:08 PM   #105
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It's not that I'm feeling any sort of goodwill towards the Russian government or the rebels, and even if it did seem like it before I can tell you it's not reflective of my views. What it all comes down to for me is, I seriously doubt that Russia would do this given its current pariah status in the negative sphere (and to a high degree, rightly so), and for them to shoot down a civilian aircraft would be akin to suicide. It makes no sense from their point of view to do something like this, and I don't think Putin (despite being an objectionable human being politically), is idiotic enough to order this sort of catastrophe. And if they had tried to frame Ukraine by it, nobody from the West would take them seriously and understandably so!

Honestly, even despite my entertaining of a possibility that the Ukrainian government had a deliberate involvement in the downing of the plane, it's more likely that it had been an accident by the Ukrainian army. I don't believe that the Ukrainian government, nor Russia, nor the rebels are all sadistic enough to do this deliberately. With that said, I wish a proper ceasefire would have been established following the disaster, but the Ukrainian army started shelling the city of Lugansk not long after where approximately 40 or so civilians were killed.

The worst part is all of this could've easily been avoided.
I didn't mean to suggest that I think Putin/Russia did it, nor do I think have any of the more sober and reputable media outlets (excluding the occasional opinion piece). I think the only reasonable conclusion is that the pro-Russia rebels accidentally shot it down in the belief it was a Ukrainian military plane. Whether Russia itself had any knowledge or contribution, directly or indirectly, I do not feel I can speculate; I wouldn't be shocked if behind the scenes they're furious with the rebels. If it was accidentally downed by the Ukrainian army, as you suggest, the rebels' behaviour - firing warning shots, limiting the time of investigators on the site in the crucial first couple of days afterwards - makes no sense at all. If the Ukrainians were at fault, this would be a publicity goldmine for the rebels. They would be welcoming in every observer they possibly could to ensure the world knew it was a Ukrainian-launched missile, and to further their narrative against Kiev.

My other thoughts are captured well by anitram and Popmartijn's posts.

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Why are so many media personalities still saying "the" Ukraine? Are they also reporting on war in Zaire?
Habit? I know better, but "the Ukraine" slips out more often than not in conversation anyway.
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Old 07-21-2014, 03:36 AM   #106
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Man it's getting more and more grim. In our newspapers it's still the most covered topic, but it more and more seems like the Rebels are behind this with help from mother Russia. There are plenty of teams on the premises, but they aren't allowed near the crash to identify victims or to research the cause of the accident. There's a fridge train with all the victim's bodies in it, still waiting to be released by the rebels so they can be transported here and identified.
If the rebels had nothing to do with this, why would they make this even harder? Sounds like a coverup operation to me. Destroying as much evidence as possible before letting the world investigate.
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Old 07-21-2014, 07:06 AM   #107
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If the rebels left the bodies as they were we'd be hearing about how awful they are for being so careless. I mean, for god's sakes, they even managed to turn that image of the rebel holding a toy into some source for outrage.

But ugh, never mind, arguing over the same old thing is getting us nowhere.
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Old 07-21-2014, 07:16 AM   #108
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A guy who used to be in the same group of friends as me died on that plane.
After senselessly destroying the life of hundreds of families the "rebels" could at least have done the decent thing and feck off to give proper authorities the chance to get the bodies out of there asap instead of issuing 'warning shots', playing around with evidence and what not.
Admitting to their crime, while I do believe it was mostly incidental, also wouldn't go amiss.
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Old 07-21-2014, 08:13 AM   #109
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Agreed, they are doing everything they can to postpone the research... why the hell would they keep the bodies there? Sure, 'nice' of them to put them in the trains (though the smell there was unbearable already), but what about sending them home so their loved ones can hold funeral services and start mourning properly? Nope, they don't want that just yet. It's still unclear what's going to happen.
Access to the crash site for unbiased researchers? Nope, no can do.

Just out of sheer curiousity, why do you feel the need to defend them Vlad?
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Old 07-21-2014, 08:39 AM   #110
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Just out of sheer curiousity, why do you feel the need to defend them Vlad?
Haven't I said enough about my personal views? But alright ...

 

Look, I don't support the rebels, at the beginning I admit to having some sympathy for them in a sort of romanticised sense ie. ordinary people being threatened by the Ukrainian government and attempting to resist against them. As it turned out, even despite not being a homogenous force ideologically, they are fairly reactionary and I can't support that. With that said, some of the criticisms levelled at them have come across as over the top and I'd wager we wouldn't be hearing about them had the Ukrainian army been present at the crash site. Like some others still, I'm still not convinced re: who shot down MH17, yes I entertained the possibility of the Ukrainians doing it (and this was based on everything I've known about their actions over the past few months + a few reports) and been suspicious towards the idea of the rebels doing this (since I don't believe it would have been beneficial for them in any way).

I think it's almost beyond doubt that the rebels will be found to be guilty, rightly or wrongly, but my biggest concern is that the Ukrainian government may get further support internationally despite their actions towards civilians of the rebel held territories and their drive in blaming every single one of their problems (I'm not even exaggerating, as much as it seems that I am) on the Russians.

This whole conflict has plenty of relevance to people I know, hence my approach to this particular subject.
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:13 AM   #111
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I think it's almost beyond doubt that the rebels will be found to be guilty, rightly or wrongly,
You might just as well say that, no matter what evidence there is, you reckon the "rebels" were framed if found guilty.

Personally I don't give a toss who is right or wrong in the entire Russia / Ukraine debate. At this moment in time I don't even care whose exact fault it is that a commercial plane was shot out of the sky for no good reason.
I just find it despicable that completely innocent lives have been wasted and the decency to treat the aftermath correctly seems to be nonexistent.
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:29 AM   #112
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I won't necessarily "reckon," just that the line won't deviate from the "rebels did it" as most are currently adamant about. We'll just have to wait to see the evidence.

Otherwise, I agree with the rest, I still don't know why a ceasefire wasn't called immediately.

Now (as reported by the Guardian's Shaun Walker and others) the Ukrainian government denied being involved in fighting in Donetsk whilst their military spokesperson says it's a planned offensive? I mean, come on.
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:52 AM   #113
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Look, I don't support the rebels, at the beginning I admit to having some sympathy for them in a sort of romanticised sense ie. ordinary people being threatened by the Ukrainian government and attempting to resist against them.
This is the romanticized way in which Serb "rebels" in Croatia & Bosnia were described too, by Serbia and Russia. Until the world realized that they started 4 separate wars and that maybe 300,000 dead people were enough, so the line was drawn at Kosovo.

This conflict has pretty much paralleled the one in the Balkans to a T. Back there it all started with "rebels" controlling areas, blocking off rail, blocking off roads and setting up checkpoints, overruning abandoned military sites and so on. With a large, militarized state next door encouraging them (openly and under the table).

Terrifying, really.
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Old 07-21-2014, 10:22 AM   #114
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Haven't I said enough about my personal views? But alright ...

 

Look, I don't support the rebels, at the beginning I admit to having some sympathy for them in a sort of romanticised sense ie. ordinary people being threatened by the Ukrainian government and attempting to resist against them. As it turned out, even despite not being a homogenous force ideologically, they are fairly reactionary and I can't support that. With that said, some of the criticisms levelled at them have come across as over the top and I'd wager we wouldn't be hearing about them had the Ukrainian army been present at the crash site. Like some others still, I'm still not convinced re: who shot down MH17, yes I entertained the possibility of the Ukrainians doing it (and this was based on everything I've known about their actions over the past few months + a few reports) and been suspicious towards the idea of the rebels doing this (since I don't believe it would have been beneficial for them in any way).

I think it's almost beyond doubt that the rebels will be found to be guilty, rightly or wrongly, but my biggest concern is that the Ukrainian government may get further support internationally despite their actions towards civilians of the rebel held territories and their drive in blaming every single one of their problems (I'm not even exaggerating, as much as it seems that I am) on the Russians.

This whole conflict has plenty of relevance to people I know, hence my approach to this particular subject.
But what about the sattelite reports the US and Ukrainian governments have produced already, stating the missile was launched from rebel territory? The phone calls, video stuff of them claiming to have shot another ukrainian plane, with later reports of them finding out they accidentally shot a passenger aircraft?
Do you reckon it's all faked?
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Old 07-21-2014, 12:05 PM   #115
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Despite all the what-if's of this situation, I would think that if the rebels are actually innocent, they would want to be as transparent and helpful as they could to investigators trying to access the crash site. Yet they most decidedly have not been:

Malaysia Airlines MH17 Crash Victims Held Hostage by Ukraine Rebels | New Republic

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Separatists controlling the area of the MH17 wreckage have declared that they can only ensure international investigators will have access to the crash site if Ukraine agrees to a truce: “We declare that we will guarantee the safety of international experts on the scene as soon as Kiev concludes a ceasefire agreement,” said Andre Purgin, a senior leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. The declaration amounts to blackmail, as Nina Ivanovna put it. The separatists are holding the bodies of MH17 passengers hostage in exchange for territory.
And as for the investigators and their access:

Forensics Experts Finally Arrive at MH17 Site - The Wire

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Four days after the tragic crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Dutch forensics experts are finally being allowed onto the scene. However, the site is still being guarded by armed rebels, who are making it very difficult for investigators to move in and out. The rebels also control much of the access to the bodies, most of which have been moved, decomposed, or otherwise tampered with. These Dutch experts have arrived to review remains of the victims, that is, if they can get to them.

The forensic experts are in the town of Torez, where many of the bodies have been put onto refrigerated rail cars. However, the train cannot leave, as Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk says the rebels controlling the area are preventing the train from moving. Thus far, the experts have only been able to inspect the bodies on the train.
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Old 07-21-2014, 06:37 PM   #116
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Despite all the what-if's of this situation, I would think that if the rebels are actually innocent, they would want to be as transparent and helpful as they could to investigators trying to access the crash site. Yet they most decidedly have not been:

Malaysia Airlines MH17 Crash Victims Held Hostage by Ukraine Rebels | New Republic



And as for the investigators and their access:

Forensics Experts Finally Arrive at MH17 Site - The Wire

Yes, but can you imagine being in their position? It's a time of war. What seems like a rational thing to do... they're the rebels. They're the underdogs fighting and grasping for an equal struggle, growing in power.

It doesn't seem logical to not want to be cooperative, but at the same time one must imagine that what may seem logical to us is not necessarily logical in the minds of individuals participating in essentially modern day civil war with heavy armaments and a strong opposition.

That being said... all signs do point to them. But I wouldn't be so quick as to say their unwillingness to cooperate means anything.
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Old 07-21-2014, 08:12 PM   #117
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I struggle to have any sympathy for rebels "fighting and grasping for an equal struggle" when they're not letting fucking investigators access the crash site.
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Old 07-21-2014, 08:51 PM   #118
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I'm not saying have sympathy, at all.

I'm telling you what makes sense to them doesn't necessarily make sense to you, and the compliment to that.

You're not at war right now. Guilty or innocent, there's several reasons why the rebels wouldn't be okay with investigators entering. And guilty or innocent, their lives are at risk. They've got a lot less of a reason to care about these victims than you or I do, for the sake of their own necks.
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Old 07-22-2014, 12:20 AM   #119
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If the rebels are innocent, I cannot conceive why they would restrict access for the reason I've already stated - it would be a publicity goldmine for them against Kiev. They would bend over backwards to ensure investigators find every shred of evidence against whoever did it. At worst, the rebels would look open, transparent, and efficient to the outside world; at best, it would incriminate their enemies and give a boost to the rebel cause.

Instead, by behaving in an obstructive manner, they are creating a distinct impression of guilt.
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Old 07-22-2014, 02:19 AM   #120
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I disagree. There's plenty of conceivable ideas. They're already using the bodies as bargaining chips for their war, as we know it.

They could be fearful that allowing investigators who are potentially pro western (the Dutch and the Malaysians, for example) would allow for exchanging of information.
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