Once again the drama of flight MH17. Are there reasons to doubt the NATO assessment?


The shooting down of the Malaysian passenger plane over eastern Ukraine is first of all a human drama, where due restraint is in order. On the other hand, the innocent people who met their deaths in the man-made incident, and with them, their next-of-kin and the friends whom they left behind, in the meantime have become the object of political wrangling. After all, in the United States it was concluded right away that ‘Putin’ had committed this crime, and the EU has followed suit. The Kiev authorities, who initially had agreed to observe a truce to allow inspection of the disaster area, in fact launched an offensive to gain control of it. Why was this so urgent?


Meanwhile documents have surfaced which cast a different light on the matter. Wreckage on various photos show two kinds of holes, entry and exit holes, the latter clearly recognisable by the torn edges. This would support the hypothesis that it was an Ukrainian SU-25 jet fighter, probably two of them, which have shot down the plane with a series of salvos of their board cannon. The NATO reading is that there was a missile, a Russian-made SA-11 (Buk), that exploded near the plane; such a missile also destroys its target in a hail of shrapnel, but the particles obviously do no exit from the same side.

Napoleon once said that is not necessary to suppress the truth, it is sufficient to postpone it. However, we cannot afford ourselves that luxury. Because the drama led to the suspension of negotiations between Putin and Merkel about a comprehensive settlement of the Ukrainian conflict; the sanctions imposed in the meantime, and possible Russian countermeasures, make their resumption less likely. In Moscow there is also a fear that raising tension is part of a NATO strategy to provoke a war, in which the Ukrainian army (with American advisers on the way) either attacks Crimea, or provokes a conflict with Russia otherwise.

Amidst a barrage of propaganda and obvious Internet hoaxes we cannot be careful enough but Asia Times journalist Pepe Escobar has traced three documents that support the jet fighter theory. One, a broadcast of the BBC’s Russian programme. In it witnesses testify that they saw fighter planes in the air right before the plane exploded (the presence of an Ukrainian military plane trailing flight MH17 was incidentally documented at a press conference by the Russian military on 21 July).

The BBC reporter next sets out to find the spot near the town of Torez where the government in Kiev claims smoke trails of a missile launch were visible, but she finds a place where this is improbable if not impossible. This broadcast was in fact removed from the BBC website, but the original version with English subtitles has been salvaged as a You Tube document. Mandatory viewing, I would say.

In addition there is an interview with a Canadian OSCE monitor on CBC, the Canadian network, on 29 July. The monitor was one of the first to arrive in the disaster zone, when debris of the plane was still smouldering. When watching the interview, everyone should fee free to skip the gruesome images with children’s books and little slippers. But after minute 3.13 he says that the cockpit, although damaged, still constituted an intact piece of wreckage. The next day it was being worked on by men in uniform with (if I hear it properly) a power-saw. During the next few days, it appeared that further ‘work’ had been done on the cockpit. 

When the CBC interviewer then asks him, what do you think we know about the causes of the incident now, after so many days, the monitor says: there are pieces that look as if they have been riddled with very powerful machine gun fire (the images after minute 6.12 actually show this clearly, including wreckage where entry and exit bullet holes are visible, in addition to the neat holes of broken rivets). No traces were found of a missile hit, but the monitor does not exclude that specialists may find these later. Again, mandatory viewing. 

Finally there is a German civilian pilot and writer whose analysis is most explicit as to the theory of entry and exit 30 millimeter bullet holes, why the cockpit was targeted, and also with a lot of detail about the type of munitions used. I find this convincing, certainly because it is confirmed by the images in the CBC report (which show the entry and exit holes even more clearly). 


A lot of questions remain, such as the role played by the control tower at Kiev airport, or why the Ukrainian security service SBU immediately confiscated the tapes with the conversations with the pilot (the plane asked to be allowed to climb a further two kilometres but the request was denied), why the black boxes that have been handed over by Malaysia to Britain for analysis, still are not in the public domain, and many other unsolved issues. Including of course, since this cannot be a mistake or accident: Who in the world would shoot down a passenger plane in cold blood?

Kees van der Pijl

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