MH17: What Is the Real Price of the JIT Investigation’s “Undeniable Proof”

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


Why there is no confidence in the evidence provided by the Ukrainian side to international investigators, and how they prove by themselves the guilt of the command of the Ukrainian Army in the disaster in the sky over Donetsk.

On Wednesday, as is known, the joint investigation team (Joint Investigation Team, or abbreviated to JIT) held a colorful presentation with plenty of pictures and videos of the interim results of the investigation of the downed over Donbass Malaysian Boeing. And what did we learn that was new from this report?

In order to answer this question, let’s go back to the day of the tragedy — on July 17th, 2014. We all remember that “culprit” was declared by the West immediately. The very next day the majority of European, American, and Australian newspapers published articles about the involvement of either Russia or “pro-Russian separatists” of Donbass. Let us remember what the “proof” of this culpability from the point of view of the West was at the time. In essence, at this moment when the remains of the “Boeing” were still smoking near Grabovo, such “evidence” was twofold: an undetermined account, supposedly owned by one of the commanders of the DPR Strelkov-Girkin, and sensational “films of Nalyvaychenko”, which the head of the SBU presented just a few hours after the crash. And that’s all; the Western media could not present anything more at this moment in support of the “guiltiness of Russia”, but it was enough for them.

It would be quite logical to suppose that these two weighty pieces of “material evidence” should have been subject to serious attention from the Investigation team. And I, for one, was waiting for the analysis in their report. However, they not only did not do it, but it was not even mentioned. It is clear that the account was fake (it’s difficult to imagine that in conditions of heavy fighting Strelkov was chatting for fun on the Internet). And what about the “films of Nalyvaychenko”, in which some voices allegedly belonging to members of the DPR, announced a wild theory that the “Boeing” was shot down by some “Cossacks from the Chernukhino”.

Well, this is super proof, isn’t it! In any case, it is totally enough for the leading Dutch newspaper “De Telegraaf” the next day to come out with the huge headline, “Murderers”, putting the names of those she believes are these “Murderers” — well, all the leadership of the DPR, including the same Strelkov. It would be logical to assume that this sharp proof became the subject of serious analysis. Investigators, of course, must have asked the SBU for the original “films” for conducting technical analysis, pinpointing the exact date and time of the conversation, identified the persons who disclosed the secrets of the disaster, attempted to find these individuals and thoroughly interrogate them. Logical, isn’t it?

But strangely its been a long time that we haven’t heard about either of these “films of Nalyvaychenko”, nor the wild theory about the “Cossacks from Chernukhino”. This version doesn’t match the official one – Cossacks with “Buk” were unlikely to be able to succeed, and Chernukhino is a completely different side from the alleged launch site of the ill-fated missile. But where are the findings of the JIT in this regard? Why didn’t the investigators publish the data analysis of this sensational “proof”? Isn’t it because that in this case, they would be obliged to directly accuse the then head of the SBU of lying, in the falsification of case materials, in an attempt of preventing the investigation and the intention to lead it on a false trail.

If the investigators pointed out the blatant primitive lying, concocted in Kiev in a hurry immediately after the tragedy, they would have to admit that the Security Service of Ukraine churned out such fakes. And if they admit that, unwanted doubts about the new recordings presented to the investigation team by the special service will arise.

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Not bothering to analyse the fake “films of Nalyvaychenko,” the JIT based its evidence on the “films of Gritsak”, the new head of the SBU. In principle, if we analyse all the “evidence”, which was presented during the presentation by the investigation team, it will turn out that most of them we have already seen and read on various social networks and “investigations” from the group Bellingcat. And it is the new SBU “films” that became the new evidence.

Analysis of the points

Let us examine what these unique testimonies are. So, the investigation team said verbatim the following: “We present as an illustration several intercepted conversations between two Russian-speaking persons, who are fighting on the side of pro-Russian militants”.

And who are these “Russia-speaking persons”? Surely the Investigation team after receiving audio recordings from the SBU (investigators have admitted that these “interceptions” were received from Kiev) would have inquired about their origin. How else to determine that these persons “are fighting on the side of pro-Russian militants” instead of being pranksters, UAF fighters or even more (it is even terrible to imagine something like this) that it’s not the actors who were recorded in a Studio by the SBU?And normally international investigators before the release of such records were to establish the identity of the interlocutors — otherwise they would again appear as some “Cossacks from Chernukhino”.

So the most hilarious thing is that the JIT has no idea who these people are and how they recorded these “films”. It turns out, at first investigators announced these remarkable conversations, and only after put up a notice about the identification of the speakers. In this announcement they ask a certain Andrei Ivanovich – Callsign “Orion” – and Nikolai Fedorovich – Callsign “Dolphin” – to help with the identification. Wouldn’t it be better to first identify the persons, and then publish the conversations. Imagine that it is not “pro-Russian militants”, but, for example, UAF officers?

But nevertheless, these new Kiev “films” formed the basis of the JIT report. Exactly like in the time of false “films of Nalyvaychenko” formed the basis of hasty conclusions in the Western media about the “culprits” of the tragedy.

So, what did the investigators present to us in the recordings. They played back in total three conversations. One of them allegedly took place in the evening of 16th July, i.e. the day before the “Boeing” tragedy. Certain “Russian-speaking person” (okay, let’s believe that it was “pro-Russian militants”) are discussing the possibility of receiving “Buks” on the morning of 17th July for protection against bombing by “Sukhois”.

What is interesting is that the conclusion about the fact that it is “pro-Russians” who are talking and not “pro-Ukrainian” fighters, can only be made from the fact that one of the interlocutors says that his men “took Marinovka”. But Ukrainian National Security Council, and all sorts of “information resistance” already on the 17th of July claimed that Marinovka is under the control of the Ukrainian army. And judging by the JIT results, a conversation between two “Russian-speaking persons” occurred at 7:00pm on 16th July. It means that the Ukrainian army officials lied to us at the time?! Or they are now lying to the Investigation team?

“Boeing”, which was not to be


Let’s try not to deviate from the only “correct” version, sounded by JIT, and put aside any doubts that the conversation took place on the 16th, and that it actually took place and that the people are “pro-Russian militants”. And if this is so, then we indeed come to the most sensational conclusion, which should be made, but which for some reason the international investigation team did not pay attention to. It turns out that the SBU on the evening of the 16th knew very well about the presence of the “Buk” system in the DPR army, capable of hitting aerial targets at a distance. That is sharply at odds with the explanations by Ukraine about why Ukraine didn’t close the airspace over the zone of a military conflict until the fall of the “Boeing”. According to the statements of Ukrainian officials of different caliber, sounded until now, the Kiev regime allegedly did not know that in a combat zone there are “Buks” until the moment when the “Boeing” was shot down.

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Today’s sensational “films”, if their authenticity is recognised (as we see the Investigation team have no doubts on this point), they confirm that Kiev already intercepted the conversation of “separatists” on 16th July, already knew about the plans to use “Buks” on July 17th, but for some reason they did not react at all to this important information. And, accordingly, it confirms the conclusions of the Security Council of the Netherlands, which directly and unambiguously accused Ukraine of the fact that it did not ban flights of civil aviation at the time, and therefore bears direct responsibility for the tragedy on July 17th, 2014. Some non-coordinated actions of the Ukrainian forces clearly happened if they decided to provide the instigators with recordings of conversations that prove the guilt of Ukraine and refute all previous statements made by the Ukrainian authorities.

This conversation, among other things, confirms one more fact, which is regularly refuted by the Ukrainian side about their barbaric use of bombing densely populated areas of Donbass. One of the interlocutors says: “the planes hit were bombing from 5 or 6 km because they were not heard… They were hitting in such an adult way”. The most interesting thing is that the investigators themselves, in their report, directly stated: “During these battles, the Ukrainian army made a lot of air strikes to stop the offensive. Pro-Russian militants suffered: there were many losses — both of human and material forces”.

This means that it’s indeed the Ukrainian army who bombed Snezhnoe on July 15th, which led to significant casualties among the military and civilians. After all, Ukraine has thoroughly refuted this fact to this very day. But as you can see, international investigators even here directly pointed out the source of these bombings.

In addition, this conversation proves that DPR fighters have a reason to protect their lives and the lives of the civilian population in the conflict zone from these bombings. I want to remind you that just less than a year ago, representative of the US State Department Mark Toner justified the destruction of the Russian SU-24 over Syria by the right of Turkmen militants to self-defence. That is, fighters of DPR, according to his logic, also had such a right.

Another very short recording, submitted for presentation, attests to the fact that at 9:00 am on July 17th, a certain “beauty” (apparently, “Buk”) had already been delivered in Donetsk. This also didn’t cause any reaction from Kiev, who allowed flights over Donbass. And the third conversation is between other unidentified “Russian-speaking people” (generally it is unclear who they are), which is not directly related to this topic. Two people in June 2015 discussed the strange statement made by the company “Almaz-Antey” – the “Buk” was fired somewhere near the village of Zaroshchenskoye. This recording, according to the investigators, was presented by them in order to prove if the statement of “Antey” is true, then the ill-fated shot occurred from territory controlled at the time by DPR fighters. However, frankly, one of the interlocutors says that there the “Ukrop” (as he calls the Ukrainian army) came at the time to this place. Thus, what is also interesting is these personage that are supposedly “pro-Russian separatists”, even on June 15th didn’t know where the missile was launched from.  It is strange to draw the conclusion on this basis that it was especially them who shot down the plane.

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The JIT speaker reported that many witnesses confirmed the passage of military equipment with “Buk” on July 17th. But were the witnesses of the presence of Ukrainian Buks in the conflict zone interrogated? We don’t know. And most importantly, was the mass of testimonies taken into account (which also are readily available on social networks) about the fact that many residents saw some military aircraft near the tragic “Boeing” accident? According to JIT, investigators while examining radar data didn’t find near the “Boeing” any aircraft “that could shoot down MH17”. But for some reason they did not clarify: were warplanes near to it, which simply used a civilian airliner and its passengers as a human shield? This is likely to be very important information, right? But they decided to hide it from the public.

Proof of what was proven

So, to summarize, we can say that all the conclusions of the international Investigation team are based on two main sources: social networks and a portion of the new doubtful “films” of the SBU. In this sense, the statement of the head of the National criminal investigation Department of the Netherlands, Wilbert Paulissen, is very revealing: “We have proved what each of us knew already two years ago”. Of course, but two years ago on the foundation of this “knowledge” was based on completely different “films” from the SBU, with entirely different content. And this did not prevent the investigators to work especially on this version, for which other “films” of the same SBU were urgently found.

However, to the main question “who exactly is guilty in this tragedy?” the investigation is not looking for an answer, focusing (as it admits itself) on identifying the gunman and those who gave the order to the use of “Buk”. And also, JIT allows us to imagine that MH17 could be shot down by mistake and that the target was not a civilian airliner.

I, personally, unlike many of my Dutch and Russian colleagues, have been urging people not to jump to conclusions about the possession of “Buk”. Both sides of the conflict at the time of the tragedy had “Buks” at its disposal. Both sides until 17th July, 2014, vehemently argued that they were in good and operational condition, and started to fiercely argue after July 17th that they were defective and not useable. Both sides had reasons to use these missiles in the conflict zone (which, as we have seen, was confirmed by JIT). And perhaps we will never know the whole truth about who launched the missile.

But even a year ago, and now it is clear: whoever and for what reason it was fired into the air, the culpability unequivocally lies with Ukraine, who knew about the presence of “Buks” at the rebels’ area (JIT confirms this), and who had the obligation to close the airspace over Donbas, but did not do it. Why was this not done? Is it because military aircraft of Ukraine intended to use civilian airliners as cover during raids on the cities of Donbass?

As JIT investigators explicitly stated, they are not going to investigate this issue – explaining that it’s not their competence. The question is: whose competence is it? How, then, to bring to justice the people responsible for this war crime?

And why is the Western media somehow reluctant to explore especially this question? I think that the answer is clear to everyone: blaming Russia will not work. With the “films” of the SBU, or without them…

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