Ukraine Liveblog Day 204: Dutch Safety Board Publish MH17 Preliminary Findings

September 9, 2014
Photo by Reuters

Yesterday’s liveblog 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.

SkyNews footage of Russian armor outside of Mariupol September 3.

Ukraine Claims OSCE Has Recorded Enemy Shelling Near Schastye

Interfax-Ukraine reports that Andrei Lysenko, the spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (SNBO), has told reporters that Russian and Russian-backed separatist forces conducted 89 shelling attacks between the 5th and 9th of September. 

According to Lysenko, one of these incidents, near Schastye, to the north of separatist-held Lugansk, was recorded by OSCE observers.

The OSCE have not yet reported this incident, with their latest report, based on information received as of September 8, not mentioning such an incident. We will watch to see if this claim is verified.

According to Lysenko, checkpoints in Donetskoye, Kamysevakha and Debaltsevo were shelled yesterday. The most dangerous areas he says are the airport in Donetsk, Debaltsevo, Severodonetsk, Schastye, Fashchevka and Avdeyevka.

Lysenko added (translated by The Interpreter):

“Ukrainian soldiers are strictly abiding by the terms of the ceasefire and open fire only in response. The frontlines are being strengthened by our servicemen, and the restoration of the combat potential of our forces continues.”

Poland Has Not Agreed To Supply Weapons, But Ukraine Can Still Buy Them – Siemoniak

Interfax-Ukraine reports that the Polish Defence Minister, Tomasz Siemoniak, has told Poland’s TVN 24 that while Poland has not agreed to supply arms to Ukraine, as claimed by President Poroshenko’s adviser, Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine may still purchase them.

Interfax-Ukraine reports:

“Those words written on the blog (of Presidential Advisor Yuriy Lutsenko), which were very quickly quoted across the world – prompted my surprise and immediate reaction. Just like in the U.S., Italy and Norway. There were no such agreements (at the NATO summit) made in Newport,” he said on TVN 24.

However, as there is no arms embargo on Ukraine, there is nothing, Siemoniak says, to stop Ukraine ordering weapons from Polish defence suppliers:

“For buying and selling, there must be two parties. If Ukraine expresses willingness to place an order, our defense industry will certainly be ready to comply. (…) This is not easy because such contracts are not done within days. Of course, the Polish defense industry is keen on selling weapons made in Poland,” the minister added.

Shelling Near Makeyevka

Reports are coming in from both locals and The Daily Telegraph‘s Roland Oliphant of shelling near separatist-held Makeyevka, to the east of Donetsk.

Centre of Makeyevka, loud and clear, sounds like either a single piece of artillery or a mortar pounding away
Blasts heard in Makeyevka
Reports That Russian Forces Continuing To Gather Near Mariupol

Ukraine’s TSN reports from Mariupol (translated by The Interpreter):

On Tuesday September 9, there was no shelling near Mariupol, however reconnaissance teams report that Russian troops are drawing forces as well as armoured vehicles and Grads up to the outskirts of the city.

As TSN’s correspondent reported, no-one in Mariupol believes in the ceasefire, everyone is preparing for an assault. Trenches are being dug around the city.

A large forces of Ukrainian soldiers has been concentrated around Mariupol for the defence of the city.

Meanwhile, reports of fighting making use of the ceasefire to flee Mariupol have not been confirmed. It is most likely that there were only a few isolated cases. No mass exodus has been observed, while the Russian troops are continuing to man their positions.

There is not yet any precise information on the numbers of enemy forces concentrated around Mariupol. However, there have been reports of at least two tank regiments from the Russian army, which actively participated in the recent shelling of the city. At the attack sites, where ATO soldiers held their defences, are left only burnt out plots of forest. The fires haven’t been put out and smoke from the plantations still rises from some sites.

Dutch Safety Board Publish Preliminary Findings On MH17

The Dutch Safety Board (DSB) has published the preliminary findings of their ongoing investigation into the crash of Malaysia Airlines MH17 on July 17 this year.

The report publishes the final few minutes of air traffic control communications with the aircraft and examines flight data recorded prior to the crash.

The data obtained from the flight data recorder shows no evidence of any abnormalities or technical issues prior to the end of recording, at approximately 13:20.


The following table illustrates communications between Dnipro Radar (Ukrainian ATC) Rostov Radar (Russian ATC) and MH17. No indication of prior issues was given. Dnipro ATC had arranged for MH17 to divert to an alternate checkpoint (Romeo November Delta) to avoid other aircraft, MH17 was due to receive instructions from Rostov on arrival to forward them to their original destination.


Based on evidence from the Ukrainian State Air Traffic Service Enterprise, the DSB has mapped the positions of nearby aircraft and the route of MH17:


The DSB has also collected data from other radar sources, which is still undergoing analysis. This includes Russian surveillance radar data. The DSB explains:


So far the evidence confirms that Russian claims that MH17 was diverted to a lower altitude by Ukrainian ATC, putting it into harms way, are false.

The radar evidence under review, will make it clear whether or not the Ukrainian Su-25, claimed by Russia to be operating close to MH17, was actually there or not.

The DSB summarises the ATC evidence so far:


The DSB investigation, while able to work only from photographs of the wreckage due to the ongoing hostilities in the area, has concluded that the wreckage shows clear signs of damage from multiple high-energy objects entering the aircraft from outside.




This damage is consistent with what we would expect from an attack by a large surface-to-air missile (SAM), with detonation triggered by a proximity fuse showering a target with shrapnel.

The Interpreter has compiled a summary of the available evidence prior to the DSB report, examining evidence that a Russian Buk SAM system was used to shoot MH17 down.

Yesterday, the BBC’s John Sweeney, who has been investigating for the Panorama programme, wrote that three eyewitnesses from the separatist-held town of Snezhnoye, near the MH17 crash site, had told the BBC that they had seen a Buk SAM being unloaded and driven around the area that day, manned and escorted by Russian men. The witnesses claimed that the men spoke with clearly Russian, rather than eastern Ukrainian accents:

Three eyewitnesses, all civilians, separately told Panorama that they saw a missile-launcher in rebel-held territory a few hours before the Boeing jet was hit.

One eyewitness saw the missile-launcher roll off a low-loader at Snezhnoye, around ten miles from the crash site, at around 13:30 local time (10:30 GMT).

“We just saw it being offloaded and when the BUK started its engine the exhaust smoke filled the whole town square,” he said.

The eyewitness told the BBC that the crew struck him as Russian soldiers: “Well-disciplined, unlike the rebels, and not wearing the standard Ukrainian camouflage uniform sported by government and rebel troops alike.”

“They had pure Russian accents. They say the letter ‘g’ differently to us,” he said.

In eastern Ukraine, most people speak Russian but the BUK crew did not speak Russian with a local accent.

His testimony was confirmed by a second eyewitness, who added that an officer in a military jeep escorting the BUK spoke with a Muscovite accent.

If correct, the Kremlin has to explain to the relatives of the 298 passengers and crew who died – including ten Britons – why Russian military personnel were allegedly seen in the area escorting a BUK shortly before MH17 was shot down.