Ukraine Day 816: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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How We Know Russia Shot Down MH17
Forensic Detail 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.
MH17 – Potential Suspects and Witnesses from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade – bellingcat
The report can be downloaded here This report, MH17: Potential Suspects and Witnesses from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, presents information regarding the Russian brigade that we believe provided, and possibly operated, the Buk-M1 missile launcher that downed Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. In this post, we will summarize the role of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade and "Buk…
Now there is yet more evidence that a Buk missile launcher, firing from territory controlled by the Russian-backed fighters and likely provided (or manned) by Russian soldiers, was responsible for this tragedy.
Satellite photos obtained by the global intelligence website Stratfor places the Buk launcher in the area where MH17 crashed. Stratfor reports. Building on a new video which placed the missile launcher near Donetsk just hours before the incident, Stratfor’s satellite partner AllSource Analysis located the air defense system in the town of Snizhne, 40 kilometers from the crash site, just five hours before the airliner was destroyed.
Satellite imagery obtained by Stratfor sheds new light on the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. Recent scrutiny of open-source materials, much of it led by a U.K.-based collective investigation project known as Bellingcat, has zeroed in on a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile system that was in eastern Ukraine around the time Flight MH17 was shot down. The Buk system is suspected of originating from an anti-aircraft missile brigade based in Russia. In early May, new video footage of unknown origins was released, appearing to place the Buk system in question near separatist-controlled Donetsk on July 17, 2014, just hours before the airliner was shot down.
Building on this new information, AllSource Analysis — Stratfor’s satellite imagery partner — was able to locate images that confirm the exact time and location of the air defense system on the day of the crash. The imagery shows the air defense system, mounted atop a transloader, being transported east through the Donetsk town of Makiivka. The images were taken approximately five hours before Flight MH17 was shot down from a location near the town of Snizhne, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) away.
This aligns with the body of existing circumstantial evidence tracing the Buk system’s route to and from Snizhne. Combined, the evidence appears to show the Buk system moving from the Russian border toward Donetsk on July 15, 2014, and then moving back to the east on the afternoon of July 17, 2014, just hours before Flight MH17 was shot down.
The mounting evidence showing a separatist- or Russian-controlled air defense system in the area of the crash, combined with the results of the official investigation conducted on the remnants of the downed aircraft, make it increasingly difficult for Moscow and the Ukrainian separatists to blame the incident on Kiev. The implication is unlikely to lead to consequences for the Russian side, but at a minimum, it provides a stern reminder about the dangers of the proliferation of weapons like the surface-to-air missile in question.
— James Miller/Stratfor
Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reports, citing an unnamed source in Russia’s law enforcement bodies, that the Kremlin will not release Nadiya Savchenko in exchange for the return of Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Aleksandr Aleksandrov.
According to the source, neither Savchenko, “nor any other Ukrainians” will be released in return for the two Russians who were captured by the Ukrainian military last year and convicted on terrorism charges last month.
But according to RIA Novosti’s source, the Russian government has yet to receive any extradition documents concerning Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev from Ukraine and are currently only reviewing the possibility of transferring Ukrainian prisoners home.
“Everything us going according to the normal working order, without ties to developments of the situation with the Russians in Ukraine,” said the source.
— Pierre Vaux
The Ukrainian military claims that Russian-backed fighters conducted 10 attacks in the Donbass yesterday, continuing to use mortars.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, 82- and 120-mm mortars were used, in addition to grenade launchers, machine guns and small arms, in attacks on Ukrainian positions in the Avdeyevka area, north of Donetsk.
Meanwhile military press officer Vitaliy Kirillov told 0629.com.ua that positions near Novotroitskoye, on the highway between Donetsk and Mariupol, were shelled three times yesterday with 120 mm mortars.
In addition, the Ukrainian military reported small-arms and grenade-launcher attacks near Shirokino, on the coast, and Luganskoye, near Gorlovka,
According to the Lugansk Regional Military-Civil Administration, Russian-backed fighters fired on Ukrainian positions near separatist-held Sokolniki, on the banks of the Seversky Donets river, with BMP infantry fighting vehicle cannons and automatic grenade launchers.
Small-arms attacks were also reported near Lopaskino and Popasnaya.
Anton Mironovich told the 112 television channel that at around 1 am today, ATO Press Center spokesman, there was a sniper attack near Novozvanovka.
Colonel Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, reported no Ukrainian military casualties as a result of enemy fire, but announced that two soldiers had been wounded by an explosive device yesterday near Leninskoye, north of Gorlovka.
There have also been reports on social media today of further fighting near Avdeyevka and Gorlovka.
Once again reports on social media and from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) indicate that the level of fighting in the Donbass may be higher than that reported by the Ukrainian military, which has claimed low levels (no more than 15 attacks in one day) throughout this past week.
This afternoon Alexander Hug, the deputy chief monitor of the SMM, told reporters that there had been regular, heavy fighting near Svetlodarsk, east of Gorlovka: