Ukraine Live Day 272: After Putin Leaves G20 Early, World Waits To See Fate Of Eastern Ukraine

November 16, 2014
Screenshot from video released by the Russian news agency Komsomolskaya Pravda, reportedly taken moments after MH17 crashed.

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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View Ukraine: April, 2014 in a larger map
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: Evidence Review: Who Shot Down MH17?

Below we will be making regular updates so check back often.

‘A Rocket Took Off’ – What Did the Men in the New MH17 Video See, If Anything?

A lot of attention is being paid to the phrase “A rocket took off” in the transcripts of both the Komsomolskaya Pravda video and AP video which we have translated, showing the first moments of the MH17 crash

That’s because it would strengthen the evidence we have found from
multiple other sources
that the separatists shot a missile from a Buk
and struck down the plane.

At 1:19, exactly the point in the video where the man can be heard deeper in the
background saying “A rocket took off,” there is no person visible in
the scene.


But in order to be audible, he must be one of the dozen men we’ve just
seen in the previous scenes.

It is hard to tell, but a guess might be
this man with grey hair and a grey t-shirt who walks on camera at 0:14, and walks closer toward the camera at 0:15 — then walks off camera.


Or it could be this man, shirtless and in a cap, who appears around 0:57:


The reasoning is that the male voice which says “A rocket took
off,” is an older-sounding voice. The grey-haired man walked toward the camera, but then further away, and isn’t visible when the other, younger men appear.

The man in the cap also lurches off to the
left to help a woman hauling a bucket of water to put out the fire —
something an older man might do.


And it takes him further away from the other group of men standing
and looking at the ruins.

Then the voice we hear saying “A rocket took
off,” comes from further away than the other men we’ve just heard
speaking in the video.

However, any of the men visible in the scene — or ones we can’t see — could be the speaker.

Perhaps a journalist on the scene can find that man or any of the men in the video.

However, it doesn’t appear as if he saw a rocket take off from the
ground, or he would have said so. (A rocket hitting the plane would not
be visible). He may just be hypothesizing about what happened, based on
previous incidents that week, when Russian-backed separatists shot down
Ukrainian cargo planes.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Translation of New AP Video of First Moments After MH17 Crash

AP has released another, longer version of the video of the first moments after the MH17 crash July 17, earlier published by Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP) which we translated.

AP says this video was  “user generated content” and stated the following:

UGC cannot be absolutely verified. This video has been authenticated based on the following validation checks:

++All video checked by regional experts against known locations and events.

The AP video uploaded to YouTube is longer and has sections which weren’t included in the
KP video. Here’s a full translation. Note that some parts are indistinct
and may be later corrected.

Translation by The Interpreter

0:13 [Camera man] Ugh
0:16 [Woman] Where’s the water?
0:16 [Cameraman] Oh, here.
0:18 [Woman] It’s horrible.
0:18 [Camera man] There, he’s extinguishing the hay.
0:24 [Woman] Oh…it was flying [indistinct].
0:30 [Man in background] It came from over there.
0:31 [Another man in background] The military…
0:33 [Another man] Let’s go, let’s go, water over here!
0:25 [Man] I just learned about it.
0:35 [Yet another man] There it fell over there.
0:37 [Another man] Where’s the pilot, I wonder?
0:37 [Another man] The pilot…
0:37 [Woman] Hell if I know.
0:39 [Another man] Who saw it?
0:39 [Another woman] And I didn’t see it, either.
0:43 [Another man] Shit, the water…
0:44 [Another man[ Over there, shit.
0:47 [Man close by] Over there, it’s lying in the yard.
0:47 [Another man] What, it went through the roof?
0:47 [Man] Yes, it went through the roof, the roof.
0:48 [Camera man] Chunks sure went flying there.
0:50 [Man] Yes, that’s it.
0:51 [Camera man] So what’s with the water.
0:53 [Man] [hand in front of the camera] We don’t have any buckets.
0:53 [Man]  There are…no there aren’t. 
0:57 [Man] Step back.
1:01 [Another man] Yes, it was, it’s there.
1:03 [Another man] Yes, it [feminine case] was there.
1:07 [Another man] From which direction?
1:10 [Camera man] Oh, crap.
1:13 [Man] It fell further, over there. So there were two of them.
1:15 [Woman] No, one.
1:15 [Man] Not it was one.
1:15 [Another man] One.
1:15 [Another woman One.
1:16 [Another man] It’s smoke, with shrapnel.
1:18 [Another man] So the rocket exploded it…the motor [Alternate: so the motor was ripped off.]
1:38 [Another man] …the motor.
1:19 [Yet another man] Yes, a rocket took off…and exploded it…
1:21 [Another woman] So here, there was a kind of …[rocket? indistinct]
1:27 [Man] So [indistinct] fell.
1:30 [Indistinct voices]
1:32 [Another man] It’s over there.
1:33 [Man] Go and find out.
2:01 [Camera man?] So what’s burning over there?

The people are asking “where’s the pilot?” because that’s their expectation: in several previous incidents, including on July 14, Russian-backed separatists in this area shot down Ukrainian cargo planes, and the pilots ejected and survived.

We’re not certain that the last male voice heard at 2:01 is the camera man himself, although it seems like it is.

He asks in Russian, “A shto tam horit‘?” [So what’s burning over there?] The softer shto and the aspirated “h” on horit instead of govorit as in Muscovite and other dialects indicates that he is a Russian- speaker with the accent of Russians in the southeastern Ukraine, i.e. not from Moscow or St. Petersburg.

That doesn’t necessarily mean he is a village resident, however, as he could be a stringer for Russian state TV. LifeNews published a video on July 17 which was from Sergei Sidorenko, their local stringer who was said to be first on the scene.

We’re still checking to see who the camera man might be and comparing this video’s scenes to the scene first uploaded as “amateur video” on Jun 17. The footage by Sergei Sidorenko can be seen in this copy of the video, since removed from LifeNews‘ own channel:

 His name is credited for the footage at 1:14.


We can also see two motor scooters parked by the side of the road, which might belong to reporters.

Others who were said to be first on the scene at the time were Sergei Korenchenkov and Andrei Vyachalo, who came from, the Russian-backed separatist news service. Both those reporters were killed in August with Andrei Stenin, the Rossiya Segodnya photographer.

One of them may have taken it, but it was suppressed because of the information about the “rocket” hitting MH17 from that area. Or perhaps it was only found later among his belongings.

UPDATE 11/16/2014: 0:48 we changed the line there to “Chunks
went flying there” on the advice of Tom Parfitt (The Russian
transliteration would be: Oshmyotki leteli tam.)

This makes sense because the other man is talking about the roof
being pierced by pieces from the plane and the cameraman had just mentioned putting out the fire, so he could be explaining that chunks of the plane fell there.

But before that, the camera man is also panning over a shoe at 0:31, then clothing
from 0:34-0:35 and focusing on the pile of clothing more distinctly at
0:40. So he might just as well be saying “Azh shmotki leteli,” “Wow, the
clothing flew” — it’s hard to tell.

UPDATE 11/17/2014:

Here’s some further help with an indistinct part:

Surzhyk is a dialect mixing Russian and Ukrainian spoken in this area.

UPDATE 11/18/2014:

We received further help from two Facebook members who helped to fill in some more indistinct parts of the audio. The consensus from here and other discussions on Twitter is that there are two lines mentioning raketa (missile or rocket), “The rocket exploded it” referring to the motor, and “A rocket took off.”

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Associated Press Obtains New MH17 Video

The video we have been looking at today which appears to have been taken moments after MH17 crashed in July may have originally been given to the Associated Press by someone who was at the scene of the incident. The AP has posted a longer version of the video, and it’s possible that Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP) used an edited version of this. Here is the AP’s text describing the video:

AP has obtained exclusively new amateur video has emerged of the immediate aftermath of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine killing all 298 people onboard.

The mobile phone footage, shot on July 17, shows the wreckage on fire in a field in the village of Hrabove with large plumes of black smoke billowing from the site.

Residents from the village are seen gathered near the site.

The video’s creator has asked not to be named. The footage has been authenticated against known locations and events and is consistent with independent AP reporting.

Translation of Newly-Available Video of MH17 Indicates Villagers Spoke of ‘Rocket’

A video has been discovered today of the first moments after the crash of MH17 which has been published by Komsomolskaya Pravda, a pro-Kremlin Russian newspaper.

It has been uploaded to YouTube by Komsomolskaya Pravda and labelled “First minutes after the fall of the Malaysian Boeing [eyewitness video].

Here is a transcript of the video which we have made listening to
it repeatedly a dozen times, but this could be subject to change with
enhanced audio.

In the first few seconds we hear the cameraman running and breathing heavily and a dog barking.

The Interpreter has made a translation of the audio:

0:13 Ugh
0:18 [Woman] It’s horrible
0:18 [Camera man] He’s putting out the hay there.
0:20 [Men in background] Let’s go, let’s go, water over here!
0:25 [Man] I just learned about it.
0:27 [Man close by] Over there, it’s lying in the yard.
0:27 [Another man] What, it went through the roof?
0:29 [Man] Yes, it went through the roof.
0:30 [Camera man] The chunks flew there.
0:33 [Another man] Yes, it was, there.
0:35 [Another man] Yes, it [feminine case] was there.
0:38 [Another man] Yes, smoke, with shrapnel over there.
0:40 [Another man] It tore the motor off, yes.
0:41 [Another man] A rocket took off.
0:45 [Woman] And how did…
0:50 [Indistinct voices]
1:14 [Man] But what, the water…?
1:19 [Another man] Is there anyone who can call the firemen?
1:20 [Woman] An ambulance… 

We will have a translation of the KP article up shortly.

We also have reason to believe this may not be an amateur video.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

New Video Reportedly Shows Wreckage of MH17 Moments After Being Shot Down
This morning The Interpreter found this video which reportedly shows the wreckage of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 just moments after it was shot down. Christopher Miller believes that the video is authentic.

We’re analyzing the video, as are others. At approximately 41 seconds into the video someone can be heard saying that “a rocket took off.” That could match the well-established theory that a Buk anti-aircraft missile shot down MH17, but it’s not clear what exactly the witness saw.

— James Miller

Can We Call What’s Happening In Eastern Ukraine A Russian Invasion Yet?

Australia did not provide Putin with a friendly reception at the G20 conference. World leaders spoke often about Russia’s unacceptable actions in eastern Ukraine, and world leaders reportedly even snubbed Putin while shaking his hand. Critics might debate whether this is empty rhetoric or a strong message, but it’s certainly not a sign that the international community is interested in going back to business as usual with Russia.

Putin, perhaps because he was sick of being berated, or perhaps, as he says, because he needed to get more sleep, left the conference early.  Now the question becomes what Putin’s next move in Ukraine will be, and how the world will respond. 

The United States may be headed for more sanctions against Russia, a sign that they believe Putin is increasing his interference in the country:

The New York Times reports:

President Obama on Sunday said he told President Vladimir V. Putin in meetings last week that the United States and its allies would continue to impose sanctions on Russia for actions in Ukraine that he edged close to calling an invasion. 

The United States, Mr. Obama said, was “very firm on the need to uphold core international principles, and one of those principles is you don’t invade other countries.” The Russians, he said, were supplying heavy weapons and financial backing to separatists in Ukraine.

Speaking at the end of a meeting here of the Group of 20 industrialized economies, Mr. Obama said leaders of European allies confirmed that Russia was still violating the terms of an agreement it signed on Ukraine. He characterized his encounters with Mr. Putin as “businesslike and blunt.”

But is what is happening in Ukraine another Russian invasion like we witnessed in August? As we reported this week, new weapons systems spotted in eastern Ukraine indicate a significant escalation in the involvement of the Russian military in the Donbass. 

Today there are reports that more Russian supplies, which have not been inspected by Ukraine or any international monitors, have arrived in the east.
Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council reports:
There are more reports of heavy fighting across eastern Ukraine today. And it’s hard to ignore threats like this one from the ‘Prime Minister’ of the self-declared ‘Donetsk Peoples’ Republic’ Alexander Zakharchenko:

Is Russia pouring thousands of troops across the Ukrainian border each day? No, at least not yet. But the military situation on the ground is shifting as a result of a fresh infusion of Russian weapons and troops, coinciding (but surely not a coincidence) with an increasingly hostile attitude of the separatist leaders. Anyone looking at what’s happening in Ukraine honestly would struggle to call this anything but an invasion, even if it is only a small-scale one.

— James Miller