The Malaysian Federation has suffered two air tragedies one by one this year. The Malaysians haven't yet forgotten a grief from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 heavy loss as another catastrophe occurred. On July 17, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in far away Ukraine where combat operations between rebels and governmental forces started so inopportunely.
According to the most widespread version Boeing 777 was shot down by a ground-to-air missile launched from SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft system, known as "Gadfly" in NATO. It's worth mentioning that the plane diverted its course for some indefinite reason not long before the crash leaving its assigned air corridor.
The leadership of our country called for an objective investigation of the tragedy. International team of professionals is already working on the crash site. We need to have patience to wait for the results of all tests and examinations. Pity, but several countries spurred swift accusations. According to the US and the European leaders Moscow as well as pro-Russian rebels are to blame. "It is not an incident, not a disaster, but an act of terrorism," Ukrainian President Poroshenko stated surely just two hours after the tragedy. Pro-Russian rebels have no doubt that the Ukrainian armed forces were involved.
As for me, I would like to analyze the situation objectively, look into the facts and evaluate arguments presented by the sides.
US and EU arguments
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said on July 20 that the United
States had irrefutable evidence that the Malaysian Boeing was shot down
by the Buk system provided to the Ukrainian rebels by the Russian
Federation. That's rather strange that the head of the US
foreign-policy refers to the data published in social networks while the
US has the most powerful intelligence agencies in the world. (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/20/mh17-crash-kerry-evidence-pro-russia-separatists-responsibility)
The US Administration held a special briefing due to this occasion. During the briefing some American intelligence representatives (whose names were concealed!) claimed that the airliner had been "mistakenly" shot down by rebels who apparently had mistaken it for a military aircraft. At the same time, they represented no any technical information that would have reinforced the conclusion of the US Administration. Intelligence officials admitted that their conclusions were based on radio interceptions by the Ukrainians and photos posted in different social networks.
That's even more amusing given that American satellites as well Russian ones were over the territory of Ukraine at the very moment of the crash. The Russian Department of Defense suggested that the Americans should publish pictures taken by those satellites but the request went unheeded.
Contrary to the US Administration public statements blaming Russia and pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine a number of American intelligence analysts suggested that the responsibility for the disaster lies mostly on the Ukrainian side. They insist Washington lacks the facts proving that Russia provided the rebels with the Buk air defense system.
Arguments of the Ukrainian side
officials have also actively commented on the catastrophe blaming the
rebels at first, then Russia, then both. The Ukrainian side released in
the Internet and social networks a number of materials ostensibly
proving the guilt of pro-Russian militias.
Just within two hours after the passenger aircraft was downed an audio record of the alleged rebels' negotiations about the crash was posted in the web. However, the technical analysis experts found evident signs of audio cutting and audio layout in it. In addition, there was no any evidence provided that voices on the record belonged to rebels. In this regard, many Internet users agreed that these materials could have been premeditated by the Ukrainian side.
Besides, authorities in Kiev distributed in social networks the video allegedly showing Buk launcher being transported from the crash area back to Russia. However, experts proved that number 312 launcher was seen in a Ukrainian armored vehicles convoy in March 2014. More than that, Krasnoarmeysk city pictured on the video has remained under control of the Ukrainian law enforcers since May 11. (http://rt.com/news/174868-ukraine-buk-falsification-continues/)
Ukraine also published photos displaying the anti-aircraft missile systems located on the territory the rebels' control. The Ukrainian officials tried to ensure that the pictures were taken by their own satellites. However, as we made it clear earlier only American and Russian satellites were over the Ukrainian territory at the time of the crash. Incorrect date, time, and location of shadows from objects as well the lack of cloud cover registered that day also proved that those photos were nothing but fake. (http://rt.com/news/177296-ukraine-mh17-satellite-images/)
attempts to destroy the evidence at the crash site as soon as possible
testify to the same thing. Since MH17 had been downed the Ukrainian
troops kept on pounding the crash site despite the fact that there were
no military infrastructure or rebels' roadblocks in the area.
Arguments of the Russian side
The Russians reject all accusations related to MH17 downing in the Ukrainian airspace.
During the briefing on July 21 the Russian Department of Defense presented its objective control data over Boeing 777 crash. According to the data the airplane deviated from the route for 14 km over the area of armed conflict. At the same time Russian Defense Department detected a Ukrainian Air Force aircraft, presumably Su-25, at a distance of 3-5 km from the Boeing.
In addition, Russian militaries made public satellite images depicting the Ukrainian air defense units located close to the crash area. So it's clear enough that MH17 route went just inside the hitting area of the Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems.
It is worth noting that the Russian side also refers to the statements of the Ukrainian officials. Thus, according to media reports, the Attorney General of Ukraine admitted on July 18 that the rebels had had neither Buk nor S-300 air defense systems. (http://en.itar-tass.com/world/741271)
At the same time, the Ukrainian forces had their anti-aircraft missiles installed in the area of conflict shortly before the liner's downing. For what purpose? The fact is that rebels have never possessed any aviation units. (http://rt.com/news/173636-buk-malaysian-plane-crash/)
My own opinion
According to Ukraine, rebels possessed one Buk launcher capable to shoot down airplanes even at the height of 10,000 meters. As for the Buk anti-aircraft system, the Internet says that it is quite a complicated system consisting of four vehicles. So it's hard to imagine how the launcher itself could "accidentally" lock onto Boeing 777 and shoot it down without guidance and targeting station that detects the target within 150 km.
A friend of mine, an air defense officer, told me an interesting thing. The Buk launcher hitting range is about 30-40 km. The militaries always use several missile launchers to destroy air targets as at a high altitude and speed (about 900 km/h) an aircraft stays in the hitting area of one launcher just for 4-6 minutes. I also can't imagine how untrained personnel could acquire a target and hit it. And it is known that most of rebels are workers, miners, metallurgists, who are unlikely to have necessary skills to manage such a complex technique that requires special education and regular training.
At the same time we are aware that the Ukrainian militarymen are skilled enough in such things. In 2001, Ukraine had sad experience downing a civilian aircraft by mistake. Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 from Israel to Russia was shot down over the Black Sea by the Ukrainian ground-to-air missile. Furthermore, it were Ukrainian air defense experts who were shooting down Russian military aircraft in the sky over Georgia in August 2008. And we know exactly that the Ukrainian Buk system was located near the crash site. In any case, Russians showed the satellite images proving it and Ukraine did not refute that.
However, in my opinion, you need to find out who gains profit to determine who is really guilty. In this case, it's obvious that Boeing 777 crash brought huge benefits only to the Ukrainian side which sought for global support to reverse an unfavorable military situation in Donbas. Besides, keep in mind that the US was able to persuade the Europeans to introduce new sanctions against Russia only after the disaster.
However, I do not want to make preliminary conclusions. Once again I want to repeat, we must wait for the outcome of the international commission investigation.