Ukraine Live Day 603: Dutch Safety Board Release MH17 Report

October 13, 2015
Photo: Maxim Zmeyev / Reuters

Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here. An archive of our liveblogs can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see our latest podcast.

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For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.

For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article: How We Know Russia Shot Down MH17.

Dutch Inspectors Say Russian-Backed Fighters Doctored Evidence, Pulled Shrapnel Out of Bodies

Many details in the Dutch Safety Board’s report on the shooting down of MH17 are disturbing. The report says that a Buk anti-aircraft missile detonated to the left and slightly above the cockpit, ripping the nose off the front of the plane containing the pilot and part of business class right off the airplane. Shrapnel was found in many of the bodies, the report says.

The report did not assign blame, which some have speculated suggests that the Dutch plan on moving forward with legal proceedings against the culprits. But Tjibbe Joustra, chairman of the safety board, told reporters that the Buk missile was fired from areas controlled by Russian-backed militants, despite Russia’s claims to the contrary (debunked in previous updates below).

Even more gruesome, however, the report says that some of the bodies were tampered with in an attempt to hide evidence. The Guardian reports:

The report by the Dutch safety board said that more than 120 objects, “mostly metal fragments”, were found in the body of the first officer, who had sustained “multiple fractures”.. When Dutch experts identified the captain’s body they found it had already “undergone an external and internal examination to remove foreign objects”.

Despite apparent attempts to remove shrapnel, “hundreds of metal objects were found”, the report said, as well as bone fractures and other injuries.

Among the fragments of missile shrapnel examined, two were in the shape of a bow tie, which the Dutch board found to be characteristic of a particular type of Buk missile warhead. However, the Russian manufacturer had earlier denied that any such fragments were found, and insisted an older Buk model was used, one that was no longer in service in the Russian armed forces.

Read The Guardian report here:

MH17 report suggests efforts were made to cover up causes of disaster

The long-awaited Dutch report into the shooting down of flight MH17 suggests attempts were made to cover up the causes of the disaster, including a bungled autopsy on the body of the captain in which metal fragments from a Buk missile were deliberately removed.

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Oct 13, 2015 23:49 (GMT)

As we’ve been reporting, the Russian defense company that manufactured the Buk missile has released more contradictory and previously-debunked statements today. These new details, however, suggest that those who tampered with the bodies knew what they were trying to hide — shrapnel from the Buk missile.

The bottom line is that the Russian government and their proxies have tried to distort the picture of what happened since the first moments after MH17 was shot down, as was documented in our latest comprehensive report on MH17, readable here.

James Miller

Nadezhda Savchenko’s Sister, Vera, Barred Entry To Russia Until 2020

Mark Feygin, a lawyer defending Nadezhda Savchenko, a Ukrainian military officer (and now MP) who was captured by separatist militants in Ukraine last summer and illegally transported to Russia, where she is on trial for the alleged murder of two state TV reporters, says that her sister, Vera, has been banned from entering Russia until 2020.

Translation: Vera Savchenko, Nadezhda’s sister, just rang me. She has been banned from entering Russia until the year 2020!

Translation: At the Cherkovo-Melovoye customs station, on the border between Russia and Ukraine, Vera Savchenko was informed that the FSB has barred her entry to the Russian Federation

Translation: Nadezhda Savchenko has now been deprived of her right to defence, as her sister Vera was her sole declared witness in the proceedings

Translation: I assume that the reason for the entry ban was part 1, article 27 of the Russian law “on exit and entry…” on threats to national security

Translation: Vera Savchenko wasn’t handed a single document. What is more, Savchenko was accompanied by the Ukrainian consul, Aleksandr Kovtun.

Translation: Nadiya still doesn’t know that her sister has been banned from entering Russia. Wait for the hearing on Thursday, it’ll be a spectacle.

— Pierre Vaux

Caught In a Lie – Russian Contribution To Dutch Safety Board Report Contradicts Russia’s Claims

The Dutch Safety Board report on the downing of MH17 has several clear conclusions:

– MH17 was destroyed by a 9N314M warhead carried by a 9M38 series missile, fired from a Buk, which was manufactured by the Russian Almaz-Antey company.

– The Buk was launched from somewhere within a 320-square-kilometer area.

Interestingly, both Russia and Ukraine were asked to assist in the investigation into the possible launch area of a hypothetical Buk. According to the report, while Russia did not confirm the use of a 9N314M warhead, they did provide a possible launch area which is in fact considerably smaller than yet consistent with the Dutch Safety Board’s projections. Ukraine’s estimate was even more exact.

Below you can see the projected launch area. Black is the area calculared by the Dutch Safety Board. Blue is the area calculated by Russia, apparently with the help of Almaz-Antey. Purple is the area calculated by Ukraine:

2015-10-13 13:55:27

The problem, however, is that the Russian government has once again been caught in a contradiction. In a briefing today by Buk manufacturer Almaz-Antey, the Russians made the already-debunked case that the missile which brought down MH17 was fired from Zaroshchenskoye.

But even though this claim has already been proven wrong, it’s also contradictory to Russia’s contribution to the Dutch Safety Board report:

Not only does a launch site of Zaroshchenskoye not comply with Russia’s own data, as we reported earlier this summer, Zaroshchenskoye was not even in control of the Ukrainian military on July 17.

Our comprehensive report on MH17 includes a debunking of Russian claims as well as a substantial amount of evidence that the Russian-backed fighters shot down MH17 with a Buk missile supplied by Russian military. The evidence in the Dutch Safety Board report only supports this theory.

Read our report here:

How We Know Russia Shot Down MH17

It's been a year since Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot out of the sky, killing all 298 civilians onboard. The results of the official inquiry have yet to be released, and while the fact that this Boeing 777 was immolated has not been disputed, various theories have been floated by the Ukrainian government, the Russian government, and other interested parties as to how it was and who ultimately bears responsibility for this tragedy.

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Oct 13, 2015 18:04 (GMT)

James Miller
Dutch Safety Board Press Conference On MH17 Report

The Dutch Safety Board has presented their findings to assembled reporters:

The Dutch Safety Board has found that the warhead used in the attack was a 9N314.

Investigators found warhead fragments with a distinctive shape, some of which even bore traces of paint from the missile. Other parts of the missile itself were found amongst the wreckage.

Here are screenshots from the DSB presentation video: 




The investigation also found that a sound peak had been recorded on the cockpit voice recorder, indicative of the blast. 

By comparing differences in the timing of the peak from the four different microphones in the cockpit, the DSB has been able to pinpoint the direction of the explosion. 


— Pierre Vaux

Buk Missile Manufacturer Repeats Debunked Claims On MH17 Downing

While the Dutch Safety Board has just presented their findings to the victims’ families, and will release their report to the public in around an hour, Russia’s Almaz-Antey company, the manufacturer of the Buk missile system, presented their own report this morning.

Almaz-Antey have largely repeated claims they already made in June this year, which rest on two main claims.

Firstly, that the missile that downed MH17 was fired not from Snezhnoye, where video and eyewitness testimony places the attack, but the village of Zaroshchenskoye.

This claim has been thoroughly debunked already. Furthermore, it is moot. Reports from the time of the shoot-down indicated that the village was held by Russian-backed fighters rather than Ukrainian forces anyway.


Secondly, the company claims that the missile used in the attack was a 9M38. 

According to Almaz-Antey, the 9M38M1 missile has been withdrawn from Russian service, and that the only Buks in the area carrying this weapon, rather than the later 9M317 model, must have been Ukrainian.

Here we can simply repeat what we reported in June: the 9M38 was still in Russian service after the downing of MH17.

Here is an image from Wikipedia comparing three different missile types – the 9M38M1, the 9M317 and, at the bottom, the 9M317ME:


Now look at this footage from a Victory Day parade in the Russian city of Chita, on May 9 this year:

The missiles on the Buks are clearly 9M38s, not 9M317s.

— Pierre Vaux