17:53 May. 4, 2016
Bellingcat and BBC published their investigations confirming the plane was hit by Russian Buk
Russia-manufactured Buk anti-air system is the weapon behind the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. This is reported by the British public broadcaster BBC in a documentary about the deadly incident. Investigative journalism organisation Bellingcat also confirms Moscow's responsibility. Bellingcat's experts claim the Buk belonged to a military division of the Russian army.
The documentary is based on the available information and eye-witness interviews. The gathered data refutes the versions of Ukraine's involvement, created by the Russian media outlets.
Ukraine's airforce couldn't have shot down the Airliner
At first, Russians claimed that Malaysian airliner was hit by a Ukrainian fighter jet SU-25. But the experts dismissed this version. SU-25 was created to destroy ground targets at a low altitude. Although it could reach the height of flight MH17 (10 000 metres), the jet was not designed to open fire in such conditions. Firing a projectile would make it go into a spin.
Also, the SU-25 is much slower than the passenger airplane, so it couldn't possibly catch up with its target. Finally, these models are equipped with short-range missiles, unable to shoot down long distance objects.
Shortly after, Russian media outlets released a satellite photo allegedly capturing the moment of another Ukrainian jet, MiG-29 firing towards the Malaysian plane. However, international analysts dismissed the photo as a fake.
The proportions and shadows of the objects were all wrong. "In order to appear this big on the photo, the airliner had to be 6 kilometres long. Or it had to be 300 metres away from the satellite camera", said Eliot Higgins, the head of investigative journalism organisation Bellingcat.
It was a Russian Buk system
Many Russian journalists still doubt the missile, that shot down the MH17 flight, was launched from a Buk anti-air system. BBC correspondents went to the crash site and talked to the witnesses, who confirmed they had seen the missile.
Also, several photos of the Buk system moving through the Russian-backed separatist-controlled areas emerged on the Internet. One of them also captured a smoke trail like the one that is left after a missile is launched. The analysts cross-referenced the evidence and witness reports and reached a conclusion the photos were authentic.
Bellingcat experts also managed to recover the identification number of the anti-air vehicle seen in the militant-controlled Donetsk region. According to their analysis, the Buk originated from Russia's 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of Kursk.
"We can say with confidence that on 17 July 2014, the Russian Buk TELAR numbered 332 of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade based in Kursk was filmed and photographed in eastern Ukraine. This specific Buk, previously identified as Buk 3×2, was filmed moving to the center of the launch area estimated by the Dutch Safety Board for the missile that downed MH17",Bellingcat journalists said in their report.