MH017 - Act of Terror

They targeted a cargo plane but shot down a Boeing 777 passenger jetliner operated by Malaysian Airlines – pro-Russian marauders backed by Moscow. This act of terror, even if caused by an apparent mistake, will presumably worsen the political and economic relations between the Kremlin government and an overwhelming majority of states to a massive degree.  For international aviation striking flight MH017 out of the skies over the rebel-controlled eastern parts of the Ukraine is a disaster.

The pro-Russian insurgents obviously confused a Ukraine military An-26 (pictured here) with MH’s Triple Seven  / source: Ukraine Armed Forces.
The pro-Russian insurgents obviously confused a Ukraine military An-26 (pictured here) with MH’s Triple Seven / source: Ukraine Armed Forces.

“Major, it was the Cossacks from the Chernuchin blockpost who shot the plane.” This was the exposing radio message transmitted at 4:33 p.m. local time from a pro-Russian rebel to Igor Strelkov, the self-appointed commander in Donetsk and intercepted by the Ukrainian Secret Service. Immediately after receiving this confirmation that an aircraft had been shot down by his militia, Russian national Strelkov, alias Girkin, posted a blog bragging his men had downed an Antonov 26 cargo aircraft. 


A grave error, causing the death of 298 passengers and crew members, as the world learned shortly after. No wonder the blog was removed immediately by the insurgents when their mistake came to light.

The MH017 tragedy is based on a dreadful mix-up made by the separatists who were convinced that the aircraft they had spotted on their radar screen was an An-26 belonging to the Ukrainian Air Force. If so, it would have been the thirteenth Ukrainian helicopter or plane and the third An-26 they had downed already. Sources in Kiev confirmed that one of their cargo transporters was in the air space somewhere over the eastern parts of the Ukraine at the time MH017 was shot down, but operating far away in more southerly regions.

Did Igor Strelkov order to down the plane? /  source: Den
Did Igor Strelkov order to down the plane? / source: Den

Meanwhile, almost five days have passed since Malaysia Airlines’ flight MH017 disappeared from the radar screen shortly before entering Russian air space. While the separatists, together with Moscow’s Putin government, still deny any responsibility in this act of terror, the facts proving their perpetration have become irrefutable. They clearly provide evidence that members of the Kremlin-backed militia controlling some of the eastern Ukraine downed the airliner by firing a BUK-M1 surface-to-air road mobile missile to shoot down the plane. Analysis of the launch plume and trajectory show the missile was fired from an area between Torez and Snizhne. Various amateur photos show a camouflaged BUK-class military launcher heading towards the Russian border shortly after the downing of MH017 with one of its four rockets missing.

BUK-M1 surface-to-air road mobile missile  /  source: ITAR Tass
BUK-M1 surface-to-air road mobile missile / source: ITAR Tass

If missile debris can be secured, it should be possible to identify the manufacturing batch and trace its origin. This search, however, is jeopardized by the insurgents that keep inspectors and team members from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe away from the site of the crash, forbidding them to thoroughly examine the debris and remains.

Until yesterday (Sunday), the separatists had consistently denied they had recovered MH017’s black box recorders. But then, Alexander Borodai, the self-proclaimed Prime Minister of the so called Donetsk People’s Republic confessed that “jet parts resembling the black boxes were discovered at the crash site." He went on to say that the findings would be handed over to “international experts when they arrive.” When this will happen and which “experts” he meant he didn’t say. 

Is it the black box this insurgent is carrying away?  Source: OSCE
Is it the black box this insurgent is carrying away? Source: OSCE

As a reaction to this act of terror hitting commercial aviation the flags at Dutch, Malaysian, and Australian official buildings were flown at half-mast to mourn the many victims coming from these countries, amongst them dozens of children and 193 nationals from The Netherlands.
Meanwhile the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Eurocontrol have published safety information bulletins, strongly recommending airspace users to avoid the Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk airspace and circumnavigate using available alternative routings.

Heiner Siegmund 

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Comments: 3
  • #1

    Nol van Fenema (Tuesday, 22 July 2014 12:04)

    Great information, Heiner, which I haven't read in any other publication so far.
    But isn't it about time we describe these mindless thugs, criminals or murderers, instead of rebels or separatists?

  • #2

    ego-mediaservice (Tuesday, 22 July 2014 13:06)

    Dear Nol
    Tkx for commenting on this horrifying scenario. Your very clear words are much appreciated. I fully concur with your view.
    These so called “pro-Russian separatists” are nothing but assassins, downing a civil aircraft and killing 298 innocent people. Instead of apologizing to the world for having committed a fatal mistake, which would be the least they could have done, they continue insisting that it wasn’t them who shot down MH017. Instead, they keep on spreading absurd conspiracy theories.
    Also the way they (mis)treated the parts of the dead bodies found at the site of the crash and the looting of the passenger’s personal effects is absolutely inhumane and deeply repulsive.
    I fear they continue exercising their terrorist activities as long as the Kremlin is backing them.
    Best wishes, Heiner

  • #3

    Anonymous (Tuesday, 22 July 2014 15:30)

    The author of this comment, well known to the CFG team, wishes to remain anonymous.

    Why is eastern Ukraine so important to Putin, its because the Crimea which he now illegally occupies and everyone seems to forget, has its gas, water and electricity coming from there, not Russia directly as the infrastructure is all Ukrainian. Without control of this Kiev could shut it down, leaving the occupiers in the Crimea is a hell of an expensive fix to get supplies there via new routes, and that costs money and also would lead to unrest with the civilian population there, something his troops and stooges who seized it do not need.

    Putin did all this because his domestic popularity was going straight down the drain, he needed to whip up nationalist furor in Russia and the population fell for it, and he is now seen as a great leader in Russia, sound like Stalin tactics, Lenin? Didn't Hitler do the same?

    Add to that he completely controls the media so the only story they hear is what he wants, arranges for political opponents to be jailed or killed, and still the people of Russia think he is great?
    And he does this because he portrays outside influences as the enemy, and in particular the UK and the USA.

    Someone said in the beginning that the only way to get Putin is "through the banks, not tanks" and that remains true today. And its not the UK or the USA that needs to do it.

    Germany in particular could have this man on his knees if the population would back Merkel and hit him hard economically, and just say NO!

    Hollande in France has two warships ready for delivery, one this summer, and they are helicopter assault ships, perfect for the type of warfare Putin now likes, invading the former soviet Union countries. Is money and a thousand jobs in France a reason to lose your morality re human life?

    We knew what he was up to in Georgia, we know what he is up to in the Ukraine, who is next?

    Americans and the Brits cannot do this alone, if Europe does not stand even taller than they have in sanctions against Putin himself and his very rich supporters, he will get away with it again.
    There is a worldwide surplus of gas, Qatar would bend over backwards to sell it to Europe. We dont have the ports to handle LNG ships, fix it!

    We need peace and the economic growth that goes with that, and as long as this man remains the darling of people because he invades and the west just accepts it like we did in Georgia and Crimea, it will never come.