Editor’s Note: Whether or not this attack was intended for a military plane, the aircraft was not acting hostile and there was therefore no good reason to fire upon it. This hostility is unacceptable.
An expert believes that MH17 was downed by a missile fired from rebel-held Torez in eastern Ukraine – and a BUK launcher has been pictured rumbling into the town just two hours before the crash.
On Friday a missile launcher with two rockets missing was then filmed by Ukrainian intelligence services being smuggled on the back of a truck to Russia.
Dr Igor Sutyagin, Research Fellow in Russian Studies from the Royal United Services Institute, believes that MH17 was shot down by rebels based in the 3rd District of Torez.
Dr Sutyagin said the evidence that Russian separatists were responsible was very strong – and that there’s even a suggestion the BUK missile launcher was being manned by soldiers from Russia.
He said: ‘These separatists boasted on Twitter about capturing an BUK SA11 missile launcher [capable of downing high-flying airliners] on June 29, and several hours before the downing of the plane locals in Torez reported seeing BUK missile launchers and separatist flags around the city.’
‘Later, there was lots of video posted of the plane falling down and rebels saying that “it was not pointless moving it [the BUK] there”.
Dr Sutyagin then underscored an emerging Russian link to the tragedy.
He said: ‘The military leader of the Donetsk Republic, Igor Strelkov, real name Girkin, a Muscovite, a Russian citizen, posts a video of the intercept.’
This video was taken down once it was discovered that the downed plane was civilian.
The expert implicated Russia further, revealing that the former commander of Russian Air Force Special Operations Command, a Colonel-General, stated recently in an interview that the separatists did not have the expertise to operate the BUK launchers, that only Russian personnel could do so.
It’s also suspicious, Dr Sutyagin said, that Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported the crash at 16.13 Moscow time, several minutes before the crash actually happened – at 16.20.
‘The plane is safely in the sky, and RIA Novosti publishes information that it has been shot down,’ he said.
Dr Sutyagin also told MailOnline that information had been leaked from a source he was unwilling to name that the pilot of MH17 ‘felt bad’ about his course over Ukranian airspace, so turned south.
Little did he know, according to Dr Sutyagin, that his plane would then be mistaken by rebels for a Ukrainian government resupply flight.
He said: ‘There is a Ukrainian mechanised brigade blocked by separatists near the Russian boarder. It’s blocked on three sides by separatists and behind the brigade is the Russian boarder, so they can’t get out. The Ukrainians try to resupply them from the air by transport aircraft.
‘Now, the pilot of MH17 said that he “felt bad” and wanted to change course to get out of the danger zone. But several kilometers to the south is a Ukrainian Army heavy transport plane, an IL76, or Candid, which has the same echo as a 777 on a radar screen.
‘The two planes came close. They tried to shoot down the transport delivering supplies to the brigade. They believed that they had been firing at a military plane, but they mistakenly shoot down a civilian airliner.’
The Buk anti-aircraft missile system suspected of being used to shoot down the Boeing 777 has been smuggled to Russia, Ukrainian official Anton Gerashchenko claimed today.
‘International terrorist Igor Strelkov, aka Girkin, last night visited Snizhne to settle the situation with the downed Malaysian Boeing,’ he claimed.
‘In the night the Buk system, from which the missile was launched, was removed to Russia, where it is likely to be destroyed.’
He claimed that the ‘direct performers of the terrorist attack’ are also likely to have been killed to avoid any witnesses.
The rebels ‘happily announced that they had downed the Ukrainian AN-26’ when in fact they had shot the Boeing, he said.
Interpol announced today it would fully assist the investigation of the horror.
Separatist rebels who control the crash site issued conflicting reports Friday about whether they had found the plane’s black boxes or not.
‘No black boxes have been found … we hope that experts will track them down and create a picture of what has happened,’ said Donetsk separatist leader Aleksandr Borodai.
Yet earlier Friday, an aide to the military leader of Borodai’s group said authorities had recovered eight out of 12 recording devices.
Since planes usually have two black boxes – one for recording flight data and the other for recording cockpit voices – it was not clear what the number 12 referred to.
Earlier Ukrainian security services claim to have intercepted two phone conversations in which pro-Russian separatists appear to admit to shooting down Flight MH17, railing, ‘They shouldn’t be f*****g flying. There is a war going on.’
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reportedly released recordings of the intercepted phone calls between Russian military intelligence officers and Russian-backed Cossack militants to the Kiev Post.
The phone calls, which could prove damning to Vladimir Putin, are allegedly from minutes after the Boeing 777-200 crashed and were apparently made near the village of Chornukhine, which is 50 miles north-west of Donetsk, near to the border with Russia, where the aircraft came down.
The first phone call was reportedly made at 4.40pm local time, or 20 minutes after the crash.
On the line allegedly is Igor Bezler, who according to the SBU is a Russian military intelligence officer and commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
He is apparently on the phone to a colonel in the Russian Federation armed forces named Vasili Geranin, explaining that the plane has gone down.
The SBU also released to the Kiev Post another telephone conversation between two militants identified only as ‘Major’ and ‘Grek’ who have apparently returned from the crash site.
This phone call takes place 40 minutes after the phone call which allegedly took place between Bezler and Geranin.