Malaysia left out of MH17 Inquiry

“We could not view the aircraft and were not invited to attend certain meetings.”

The DSB report on MH17 is looking shabbier and shabbier. The latest is this from The New Straits Times Online of 24 October. When we add this to all the other omissions – radar data, Russian evidence of aircraft, damage to port wing and engine, the trivial number of lethal fragments – I realise that I was wrong to call it a “limited hangout“. It’s an incompetent limited hangout.

Responding to points made in the DSB final report on the incident, which stated that Malaysia did not extend its full cooperation in the initial stage of the investigation, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said this was because Malaysia’s role was not honoured as it denied full access and privileges to the probe. He said the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) was not made a full member in the joint investigation and unlike other members, Malaysian representatives were only granted limited access. “We were the owner of the aircraft. How can we be prevented full access? “We could not view the aircraft and were not invited to attend certain meetings.” “In the end, we cooperated when they gave us full access after acknowledging our role. It even says so in the news report,” said Abdul Aziz, referring to a recent foreign news article alleging Malaysia’s initial reluctance to cooperate.

MH17 Final report is Not a Final Report; It’s Just a Limited Hangout: It tells as much of the truth as it has to. But no more.


“Limited hangout” is spy jargon for a partial admission of the truth to attempt to control the exposure of a clandestine operation. The hope is that the partial truth will satisfy the questioners and they will look no further. The phrase came into popular awareness during the Watergate scandal in 1973 as the cover story unravelled. The Dutch Safety Board report on the MH17 disaster is an example. It’s a partial statement: something very important is left out; but it is not completely left out because there may be a later need for “reconsideration”.

The sources and abbreviations I use are below.

  • Russian MoD briefing July 2014 (MoD) (English)
  • Dutch Safety Board Final Report October 2015 Video (DSBV) Text (DSBT)
  • Almaz-Antey First Report June 2015 (AA1) (Video) (Almaz-Antey is the manufacturer of the Buk family of SAM systems which has been in service in many countries since 1979. Over the years, as is common with evolutionary Soviet and Russian weapons systems, there have been several different rockets and warhead designs.)
  • Almaz-Antey Second Report October 2015 (AA2) (Slideshow in English)

In August I published a piece at RI named “Questions a Real MH17 Report Would Answer“. The DSB report fails my test but it fails it in an interesting way: in a limited hangout way, in fact. I said there were four vital points that must be addressed:

  1. The “black boxes” will tell us where MH17 was when it was hit, what direction it was going in, what speed it was travelling.
  2. Analysis of the damage pattern of the wreckage will show where the missile was when it detonated.
  3. Backtracking from that point will show from where it was launched.
  4. Lethal fragments will show what weapon hit it.

The report deals with 1 satisfactorily, there is a question about 4 but it is in its answer to numbers 2 and 3 that we see the limited hangout.

The report was delivered by its Chairman, Tjibbe Joustra, [quondam the Netherlands’ National Antiterrorism Coordinator – is that significant? You decide, Dear Reader – and Chairman of the DSB since February 2011] who stated that it was not the DSB’s job to assign blame. The DSB’s conclusion was that MH17 was brought down by the explosion of 9N314M warhead as carried on 9M38 series Buk surface-to-air missile (SAM) (DSBT-9); other scenarios were considered, analysed and excluded. It offers an area from which it believes the missile was launched.

The Flight Data Recorder (both “black boxes” were in good shape) showed MH17 flying at 33,000 ft heading 115° at 293 kts (542kph). The recording stopped at 13.20:03 UTC at 48.12715N 38.52630538E (DSBT-47).

I begin with my principal conclusion that the DSB report is a “limited hangout”.

By ignoring the damage to the port wing and port engine, the Board was able to shift the approach route of the missile away from Kiev-held territory south of MH17’s route to rebel-held territory in the south-east.

The importance of leaving out the wing and engine

The Dutch Safety Board did not take into account the damage to the port wing and the port engine (see below). While it did provide a photo of the damaged port engine intake ring at DSBT-50, there is no other discussion of damage to the engine and I believe that the inclusion of the photo provides the DSB with an “out” should there be a need for a later “reconsideration” of the evidence. To summarise (see below): the DSB established a point at which the detonation occurred; the DSB understood the blast pattern of the warhead (DSBT-130 but see a better representation at AA2-35). But it ignored the fact that the existence of damage to the port wing and port engine proves that the missile had to have come from the side of MH17 and not from in front of it. That is the key point: everything up to that point in the analysis of the destruction of MH17 (leaving aside the rather small number of “bow-ties” – see below) is closely reasoned. The sleight of hand occurs when the wing and engine are forgotten. Concentrating only on the damage to the cockpit allows the path of the missile to be twisted from the south to the south-west as is required by the “rebels did it theory”. A launch point from the south rules that possibility out.

This is illustrated at AA2-21. Both Almaz-Antey reports calculated the firing point as being near Zaroshchenskoye while the DSB calculates it as being near Snezhnoye. AA2-21 shows a damage comparison: a Buk fired from Zaroshchenskoye damages the port wing and port engine, a Buk fired from Snezhnoye does not. The damage to the cockpit is similar in each scenario.

Because the damage to the port wing and port engine was ignored by the DSB report, they were able to make the approach line of the missile closer to the direction MH17 was heading, which allowed them to calculate the launch point so as to include rebel-held territory. Had they included the port wing and port engine damage, they would have been forced to accept a launch point farther south into Kiev-held territory.

In short, they told as much truth as they could without compromising the required answer. A “limited hangout” indeed.

But there are some other – less significant, to be sure – points that should be considered.

Missing Radar Data

The first point worthy of attention is the radar data or, rather, its absence. We are told that “The Ukrainian civil primary radar stations in the area were not functioning at the time of the crash due to scheduled maintenance. The military primary radar stations were also not operational. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence stated that this system was not operational, because there were no Ukrainian military aircraft in the sector through which flight MH17 flew” (DSBT-38). NATO had an AWACS aircraft in the air but that said MH17 was out of its range (DSBT-44). Thus only limited radar information was available from Ukraine and nothing from NATO.

This is not believable. Ignoring the “scheduled maintenance” stuff, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence statement that there were no military aircraft in the area is contradicted when DSBT-185 informs us that Kiev claimed that a military aircraft was fired at in the Donetsk area on that very day. That is less than 40 kms away from MH17. As to NATO, it is absurd to think that NATO had an AWACS aircraft up that was not looking at the fighting area. The DSB accepts these statements without comment.

Russia also provided limited radar information because, it said, as the crash occurred outside of Russian territory, it did not record the primary data (DSBT-42). The report spends some time chiding Russia for this.

Flight Path

Another of the points that I made in my RI piece was the change in the flight path as recorded in the FlightAware website. No mention whatsoever is made of that in the DSB report. I did notice, however, that the flight plan as shown at DSBT-212 shows a slight turn to the left at the Germany-Poland border and a slight turn to the right at the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan border. If we remove this slight deviation, we have a straight line flight path that goes over the Sea of Azov as the earlier routes did before they were changed on FlightAware.

I still believe that this is a point that has been insufficiently discussed and I remind readers of the screen shots taken of the FlightAware tracks showing previous routes well south of the track taken that day by MH17 shown here and here. I remember noticing the change at the time and thinking that the flight path of 17 July was the first question that had to be answered. Again, the DSB makes no mention of any other routes taken by this daily flight.

Fighter planes

As to the fighter plane story the flat statement is made that there are no aircraft shown on the Ukrainian radar tracks except MH17 and two other commercial flights (DSBT-114). No mention whatsoever is made of the Russian presentation (MoD 9th illustration) that showed a fighter plane close to MH17. (But note the careful statement that there is nothing on the Ukrainian radar tracks. Perhaps the DSB is leaving space for a later “reconsideration”.) The report rules out cannon fire because 1) there are too many holes in the fuselage for a limited number of cannon rounds; 2) the presence of “bow-tie” fragments (see below); 3) there were no military aircraft in the area (DSBT-126). It returns to the issue at DSB-131 where it argues that all penetrations of MH17 came from a single point.

Personally I do not find this very convincing and I do not believe that the presence of a fighter as well as a SAM is excluded, although it is clear that the SAM was sufficient to bring the plane down and kill the cockpit crew. But the DSB ought to have said something about the Russian statement that there was a fighter plane nearby. And certainly there are many holes in the wreckage that look as if they may be caused by cannon fire. And then there are the numerous claimed eyewitness statements of fighters in the area. All this should have been discussed and, if rejected, rejected with serious arguments and evidence.

The reconstruction and the damage

We now come to an analysis of the reconstructed aircraft. Or – and this is a point of great significance – the partly reconstructed aircraft. DSBV gives a good view of the reconstruction at 22:44. We see that the cockpit and part of the lower forward passenger section is all that has been constructed. Missing are the port wing and port engine. This is the key to the limited hangout.

DSBT-55 begins a long section detailing what parts were recovered and from where they were recovered. Everything is accounted for except – an important exception – missile parts consistent with an Buk 9M38 missile (DSBT-80). No location is given for them and there is no chain of custody given. Are these the parts reported to have been found only as late as August 2015? We are merely informed they were found “in the wreckage area”. Photographs appear at DSBT-82.

A long section analyses the sounds from the Cockpit Voice Recorder and establishes a source outside the the upper port side of the cockpit (DSBT-112) This is assumed to be the location of the centre of the explosion. This location is verified by analysing the holes (DSBT-124). All this is perfectly convincing.

About 75 fragments were found in the human remains. Some of these are argued to have come from outside through the aircraft skin; some photos at DSBT-89. Two of these (three?) are claimed to be “bow-tie” shaped (DSBT-92). These two – or is it three or four? – “bow-tie” shaped fragments are conclusive as far as the DSB is concerned: their assertion that it was a Buk warhead type 9N314M completely depends on these two or three or four fragments. John Helmer has argued that there is a suspicious amount of secrecy and national security about these vital pieces.

This is a point of contention with Almaz-Antey’s reports which maintain that the Buk used did not have a “bow-tie” warhead. AA2, which used a static test of a Buk with “bow-tie” (Almaz-Antey calls them “I-beam”) shaped particles in its warhead, argues that the resulting destruction pattern shows bow-tie/I-beam shaped holes (AA2-27) (which DSBT does not) and many more bow-tie/I-beam fragments – there are more than 2000 in that particular warhead design – in the wreckage than two or four. From this Almaz-Antey concludes that the warhead used was not the 9N314M (which has bow-ties/I-beams) but the B9N314 which does not. Their point is that this is the type of Buk in Ukrainian service but no longer in Russian service.

Launch point of missile.

DSBT-144 gives the estimated launch point for the Buk. It chooses a rather large area to the east of Torez more-or-less in front of MH17. In that area is a smaller one it claims to have been provided by Almaz-Antey and a still smaller one provided by the Kiev authorities. Therefore a missile fired from any of these positions would have been approximately head-on to MH17 (from directly head-on to about 30°). This is one thing to which I will return, but I must say I do not understand what the DSB is talking about when it includes an Almaz-Antey estimate of the launch point in this area: neither Almaz-Antey presentation gives an origin in that area. As we saw above, Almaz-Antey gives an estimated firing point that would place the missile launch point much more to the right of MH17 – at roughly 60° from its course. Which brings us back to the key point: ignoring the damage to the port wing and port engine allows the DSB to make the missile track more to the front of MH17’s course. Such an origin is impossible if the damage to the wing and engine are taken into account. The DSB report elides the issue altogether but does provide an “out” by showing a photo of the engine damage.


There are a number of questions that can be raised about the report: the lack of primary radar data from Ukraine and NATO is just not believable and the authors should not have blandly accepted it: there were Ukrainian fighters in the air and no one should possibly believe that NATO assets weren’t watching the area.

The report airily ignores the Russian MoD claim of a fighter plane near MH17 (although leaves itself an out by saying the Ukrainian data showed nothing).

The “flight route question” is completely unaddressed.

Too much hangs on the very small number of bow-tie/I-beam pieces.

By the main thing is that, because it has ignored the damage to the port wing and port engine (although leaving a photo of the latter in the report so as to provide an out), it is able to shift the approach line of the missile away from Kiev-held territory to the south of MH17’s route to rebel-held territory in the south-east.

So what happened?

I agree that we will probably not know until the regime in Kiev collapses or some Edward Snowden reveals something. (Although, as it now appears that the Kiev regime is actually questioning the official “heavenly hundred” sniper story, discussed here by Gordon Hahn, who can say what’s next?).

I would suggest the following possibilities.

The media dog is no longer barking

I would draw the reader’s attention to the media coverage. A media campaign blaming the rebels and Russia began almost immediately after the crash; on the other hand, the media has been very silent about the DSB report. The Daily Mail can serve as an example of both: “Anything to confess, Putin? Russian president in church as world leaders warn him you can’t ‘wash your hands’ of MH17 disaster” 18 July 2014 (“Amid growing evidence that the flight was hit by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile, launched from areas controlled by pro-Russian rebels in the separatist eastern regions of Ukraine, fingers have increasingly been pointed at Russian president Vladimir Putin, who denies involvement.”) and “Russian missile killed pilots and cut jet in half but passengers could have been conscious for up to a minute as plane plunged, reveals official report into MH17 downed over Ukraine” 17 October 2015 (rather neutral coverage full of “he said, she said”). And the story seems to have disappeared. A cynic might be excused for wondering if some central agency puts out the story line. I find this suggestive.

To watch

As for further developments I recommend Alexander Mercouris’ piece on RI – there are some legal cases coming up that may prove interesting. I also recommend John Helmer’s writings on the subject at his blog Dances with Bears. The story appears to be unravelling in several places at once. He also goes into more details on the tiny number of bow-tie/I-beams on which the DSB hangs so much of its case.

Stay tuned, there may be more to come.

Ukraine will Conquer Russia!

In someone’s alternate universe. Maybe.

I was struck by this quotation in a piece by Anatoly Karlin; it is by one Adrian Bonenburger writing in Forbes in July. I am certainly not going to waste my time reading the rest of the Bonenburger oeuvre even though there may be more keepers in it.

This is the greatest risk we face for World War III. Not that Russia defeats Ukraine and moves toward Poland and Estonia, but that Ukraine wipes out the Russians currently in Ukraine, and Putin is forced to take some drastic action to prevent further losses. After all, why should Ukraine not feel entitled to take some of Russia’s territory in return for their lost Crimea? And who will be there to stop them, save demoralized and confused Russian conscripts?

I don’t think “deluded” is a strong enough word. Bonenburger obviously believes that 1) Ukraine is soon going to be “Europeanised” 2) that “Putinism” is soon going to collapse and 3) that European armies squash Russian armies like bugs.

And, you know, he’s right. The Ukrainian juggernaut did smoothly roll over the pathetic rebels in the summer and Putin is said to be hiding out with his (only) friend in Pyongyang.

European armies do routinely crush Russia’s demoralised and confused conscripts. We’ve all seen paintings of Charles XII crowning himself in the Kremlin. Who has not admired Napoleon’s glorious summer house among the volcanoes of Kamchatka? Every schoolchild has heard of the historic Hitler-Tojo meeting in January 1942 in Sakhalin.

It’s rather fascinating that anyone would pay Bonenburger to do anything more complicated than lifting heavy objects.

Ukraine: Such a Disappointment for a Girl: Hope and change blasted and gone. What to do?


Remember the girl who wanted lacy undies rather than the shapeless grey scratchy polyester bloomers that the puritanical Putin orders all his female subjects to wear? Although, come to think of it, given gas prices, gas shortages and gas thefts, something warm, no matter how unattractive, might be more practical for a Ukrainian girl today than frilly bits of silk. Well, anyway, apparently she, Olga Znachkova, is trying to get work in Russia. Things didn’t work out for her – or for millions of other Ukrainian girls – quite the way they were advertised, did they?

Znachkova panties

(Of course, she’s an actress and it is more than possible that she was hired for the job as was I’m a Ukrainian. But we can still feel for her letdown, can’t we?)

But spare a thought for another Maidan Girl – the Baker herself.

Baker of the Maidan

What must she be thinking? She did the cookie thing in December 2013 and helped manufacture the new Ukrainian government over the next couple of months. What was she hoping for?

A smooth overthrow of Yanukovych followed by a smooth transition to her hand picked government; the smooth acquiescence of the whole country; an economy that you could pretend was smoothly improving; smooth reductions of corruption perceptions (remember Saakashvili and the traffic police? Something like that); a smoothly quiescent Moscow; smooth US Navy port visits in Sevastopol; smooth track into NATO; Joe Biden’s son smoothly getting rich on fracking. A victory for the US, good return on the $5 billion investment and a BIG loss for Russia. Smooooooth. All done and dusted long before today.

Instead, she manufactured another neocon disaster with nothing smooth about it at all. The US Navy won’t be visiting Sevastopol. When even Saakashvili says it will be years to get back to the pre-Maidan numbers, you know there is no pretending away the economic catastrophe. Russia is not cowed; it is cutting itself loose from the West. The Russia-China alliance, the worst possible outcome for US power, tightens day by day (speaking of port visits, I don’t think she had Chinese warships visiting Novorossiysk in mind). Ukraine will not be fast tracked into NATO. It is torn apart in war. The present government’s popularity ratings are rock bottom. The useful actors of the Maidan riots threaten to overthrow the government. The allies hold to the task but it takes ever more effort on Washington’s part. The sanctions against Russia probably cost Europe more than Russia: Russia can find new importers or make its own but the EU can’t find new markets. The US military is nervous about the prospects of a real war with Russia. The people who live in NATO states – as opposed to their suborned rulers and media outlets – have little enthusiasm for the endless cataclysm (and even less as the outcome of the neocon catastrophes in Libya and Syria arrive for extended visits in their countries). And it can only get worse. Well, on the bright side, Pussy Riot did humiliate a fictional Russian President. And Joe Biden’s son would be getting rich in the fracking business in Ukraine, if there were any fracking business left. Not much, is it?

Nuland still dreams, and never more than in her testimony six months ago: “even as Ukraine began building a peaceful, democratic, independent nation across 93% of its territory, Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine suffered a reign of terror.” Peaceful, democratic, independent (you, Dear Reader, are invited to Google the contemporary reality of these concepts). But the reality is different. While the Western media usually obediently types out the script it is given, every now and again something leaks through the barrier. Three recent examples: Demoralised Ukraine troops start to lose faith in Kiev, Kiev forced to fight its own fascist militia and Ukraine Is Too Corrupt for Debt Deal to Work.

Personally, I don’t think there was a Plan B. (By the way, has any one of the neocon foreign policy catastrophes of recent years had a follow-up plan or any – even fleeting – consideration of the consequences? I believe that ISIS is another outcome of neocon insouciance and I am gratified to see that the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency agrees.) One has to comprehend how profoundly ignorant Obama and his circle are about Russia: just a year ago we heard “But I do think it’s important to keep perspective. Russia doesn’t make anything. Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking.” No big deal, nothing to worry about unless “nuclear weapons are back in the discussion of foreign policy”. (Which, a year later, as it happens, they are). The Obama team has many other misconceptions. No wonder Nuland expected this feeble, failing semi state – this “gas station masquerading as a country” – to roll over.

So I don’t think there was a follow-up plan – the lacy undies and the naval base were a done deal, so to speak; all that was lacking was the completion of Plan A. (Here’s an interesting post from someone who did think about the consequences. Eighteen months ago. A lot more perceptive than anything out of Washington, don’t you think?)

I would go so far to suggest that the utter collapse of the dreams of Znachkova and Nuland and the lack of an alternative plan drives the increasing shrill statements and themes in the Western MSM. This was not supposed to happen: Nuland & Co, thinking it was weak, fragile and powerless, expected Russia to back down; it was all supposed to be completely over by August 2015. All they can do is to repeat themselves over and over again.

Hope louder! Russia, of course, has always been doomed (here’s Time in 1927) and it was altogether finished in 2001, but it seems that the intensity of the doom saying has been stepped up as if wishing so made it so. Has an ‘open society’ doomed Russia to fail? (September 2012); Russia Is Doomed (March 2014); Why Putin’s Adventure in Ukraine Is Doomed (April 2014); Putin’s Nationalism and Expansion Strategy Is Doomed to Fail (September 2014); Sorry, Putin. Russia’s economy is doomed (December 2014); Remember Russia? It’s still doomed (January 2015); Morgan Stanley thinks Russia’s doomed (February 2015). Shout louder! they can’t hear you in Moscow.

More threats and futile gestures! “Dragoon ride”; “A message to Russia” in Bulgaria – 4 tanks, 3 guns and 6 recce vehicles (!); “unacceptable to the international community“. It’s no wonder that some US military leaders are starting to get nervous.

More sanctions! A half century of sanctions didn’t bend Cuba but they will bend Russia – just one more round and Putin will come crashing down.

More hysterical assertions! Umpteen thousand Russian troops in or near Ukraine! MH17 tribunal! Another invasion of Ukraine strangely unobserved by the gigantic American intelligence apparatus! More submarines in Sweden! Dangerous air activities near NATO warships peacefully sailing in the Black Sea or Baltic Sea! Santa Claus! Giant hogweed! Corbyn! Brutal goat deaths! Nasty thoughts! Manufacturing slowdowns! Putin’s crazy!

Back in 2013 Olga and Vicky could taste it, wear it, phone it, see it. Where are the lacy undies? Why isn’t the US Navy in Sevastopol?

Questions a Real MH17 Report Would Answer: If it doesn’t, it’s a coverup

We are promised a report of the MH17 crash by October. Or is it already completed but you and I can’t see it? Anyway, something that we can all see is supposed to appear in a couple of months – which would be about 15 months after it happened.

Personally, I don’t expect much: the “Putin killed my son” meme has been implanted by thousands of MSM expectorations and nailed down by politicians like Australia’s Julie Bishop demanding that Moscow “accept responsibility for the death of 298 people“. I do not expect a report produced by Ukraine (a beneficiary of that meme), two NATO members, Bishop’s Australia and Malaysia (especially as it was added to the group as an afterthought four months later) to dissent. And I expect even less form the report now that we know that “All parties to the criminal investigation have signed a non-disclosure agreement, which requires consensus among the parties before information regarding the investigation will be released“.

Furthermore we all know perfectly well that if there were radar tracks or satellite photos or air traffic controller conversations or electronic intercepts or “black box” data supporting Bishop’s assertions we would have heard about them. More than once. The fact that we have not is eloquent: “a dog that did not bark in the night”.

But one can hope.

I enumerate here some issues that a real report would discuss and that a coverup would ignore. In my opinion the list can be used to assess the seriousness of the report. If few or none are addressed, then it’s just not a real investigation. If all we have is “must haves…” or “might haves…” or “large number of high-energy objects” or twitter, or Bellingcat, then it’s a coverup. After more than a year, with all the access claimed by the Joint Investigation Team, there should be real evidence and real conclusions based on that evidence.

There’s lots of stuff I don’t think we need to worry about. I don’t believe that it was really MH370; there’s no need to take anything Bellingcat says seriously; this is obviously not a Boeing 777 crashing; this so-called missile launch video is fake; this photo of a fighter and MH17 that appeared in one Russian media outlet probably is too; this alleged recording from a Russian newspaper doesn’t convince me. I know there’s a whole industry of fakery out there and a lot of incentives. On the other hand, the Western news media told plenty of lies about “looting the site” and so on. While it’s not in the remit of the JIT to apologise, it might be honourable if it were to acknowledge that as good and respectful a job as possible was done.

The report must address the questions listed below. Maybe the answers can’t be known, but there must at least be indication that the investigators took them into account and either accepted or dismissed them for logical or evidential reasons. For example, pretending that the people who say they saw MH17 shot down by fighter planes do not exist is not acceptable. Drawings like this, or “social media” are not good enough: we have to be shown some boulders from the famous “mountain of evidence“.

Real evidence, real discussion, real consideration, real answers. A real investigation.

I have noted below in italics what, in my opinion, are the truly unavoidable issues. But here’s the summary, if you don’t want to read it all.


The “black boxes” and other data available to the JIT will tell us where MH17 was when it was hit, what direction it was going in, what speed it was travelling.

Analysis of the damage pattern of the wreckage will show where the missile was when it detonated.

Backtracking from that point will show from where it was launched.

Lethal fragments will show what weapon hit it.

These facts, and the route change, are the most important of the important facts. A report that doesn’t deal with these is a coverup.


Earlier routes of this daily Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight travelled well south of the fighting area, over the Sea of Azov. This day the plane was sent over the fighting area. Who did it? Then the Flight Aware tracks were changed. Who did that? (Note: this question is very important. First the re-direction and then the falsification. Prima facie evidence of a purposeful conspiracy and one that could not possibly be attributed to Moscow or to the rebels. At the time I looked the routes up on FlightAware and saw the earlier ones well south of the fighting. Then, a few days later, I saw that all the earlier tracks had been moved north. But I didn’t have the wit to make screen captures of the earlier tracks. Others did, however, and here they are.)

Does Carlos the Spanish traffic controller exist? If so, what he says is extremely important evidence. Effort should be made to track down the story.

Where are the recordings of flight traffic controllers’ communications with MH17 in the zones it passed through?


The Russians have provided radar plots showing the route of MH 17. Where are those from Ukrainian or Polish air traffic controllers? Were there fighter planes near it? (Especially important is the Russian-alleged presence of fighter planes near MH17. That cannot be sloughed over: true or false?)

We know US/NATO exercises were being carried out within radar or satellite observation. Where is this information?

Robert Perry says his contacts in the US intelligence establishment have evidence that the missile was fired from Kiev-held territory. Yes or no?

Numerous people claim to have seen MH17 shot down by fighter planes. Conversations of the first people on the scene reiterate this. “Carlos the flight controller” says it. These testimonies must be investigated and verified or rejected; if the latter, with reasons. (Another of the key points: all this would have been visible on radar. Is it, or isn’t it?)

Many people claim the phone intercepts and social media cited by the US State Department are fakes. True or false?

It is claimed that a Ukrainian air force ground staff member, now in Russia, says he saw Ukrainian fighter planes take off that day, one returning without missiles. Perhaps he’s lying, but the investigation cannot ignore his testimony: he must be interviewed and his statement assessed.

A Buk missile leaves a very prominent trail. Where are the witnesses?

Here’s a report that sources in the Ukrainian security structure say Ukrainian forces shot it down by accident. Why should this particular story, of the innumerable assertions of this and that, be considered, you ask? Because it wouldn’t be the first time Ukrainian air defence units shot down a civilian aircraft by accident and then lied about it. That fact alone makes it worthy of at least a paragraph in a real report.


If the cause was an internal explosion, the wreckage should show unmistakeable evidence. This possibility must be ruled out. (Of course an internal explosion – which no one expects to have been the case – would change everything.)

Graham Phillips tells us the area still has many fragments and that the investigators seem to be incurious about them. Is this true?

What do the autopsies on the pilots tell us? Is this story about a coverup true? Are those bullet holes in the pilot’s chair? Are those bullet holes in the pilots’ section of the nose? These questions should be fairly easily answered one way or the other. (A serious report must account for the apparently circular holes shown in many photographs).

The wreckage probably contains missile warhead fragments and/or bullets. These are carefully designed – they are not random bits of langrage. A Buk warhead has thousands of distinctive fragments; depending on their shape, the type of Buk warhead can be determined. Likewise a piece of linked rod warhead would be apodictic evidence of an air to air missile (is this one? source). A cannon round would be apodictic evidence of gunfire. The shape, composition and weight of lethal fragments are diagnostic in identifying the weapon that brought it down. (If bullets or non-Buk warhead fragments are found, the conventional Western accusation is decisively contradicted.)

There should be enough evidence from the destruction pattern of the wreckage to show where the warhead was when it detonated. That combined with the location and direction of travel of MH17 at the moment of detonation will tell us from where the missile was fired. The omission of this information would be another fatal flaw. (Another key piece of evidence: for example Almaz-Antey’s analysis concludes it was a Buk, of a model no longer possessed by Russian air defence forces, and that it could only have been fired from Kiev-held territory).


Why does Ukraine have a veto on publication?

Why was Malaysia – the owner of the aircraft, after all – only added to the JIT in November 2014?

Why are Belgium and Australia on the investigation team at all? Especially after the Foreign Minister of the latter already decided Russia was culpable?

We had remarkably full information on the Germanwings crash in the Alps within weeks, with many details from the “black boxes” including sound in the cockpit. Why has this investigation taken so long?


We are told (recently) that the investigators believe they may have recovered fragments of a Buk missile from the crash site. Does this make sense to you? It doesn’t to me. MH17 was heading south-east at an altitude of 10,000 metres. The US scenario has the missile fired from north-west (head on), the Almaz-Antey reconstruction has the missile coming from the south-west (starboard side). The fragments of the aircraft would continue with their momentum, the fragments of the missile body and engine with their momentum; in neither case would one expect to see wreckage from the two very close to each other.

Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

(especially when you know that any real evidence would have been

plastered on every front page, news program and op-ed piece.) Discussion Group: Why the Minsk-2 Settlement of the Ukrainian Crisis Will Hold

While the Minsk-2 agreement is better than nothing and may lead to something eventually – after all, everything leads to something – it is at best the beginning of the beginning of the end.

There are two very serious flaws with the agreement.

The first is that there are several thousand Kiev troops surrounded in the “Debaltsevo Cauldron”; the agreement makes no provision for their evacuation or surrender. We are told that Poroshenko does not believe they are surrounded; but they are – there is plenty of film (for example) of the enclosure. There is no way that the Novorussian forces will allow them to stay there; they remember the Kiev forces at the Donetsk Airport continuously shelled Donetsk throughout the last “ceasefire”. They also remember Poroshenko boasting that the last “ceasefire” had been used to bring the Kiev forces back to 100%. And, today, fighting there continues and will continue until the Kiev forces take up the offer to depart without their weapons (surrenders are beginning, for example) or are destroyed.

The second problem are the neo-nazi “volunteer battalions”. They are not interested in compromise; to them a ceasefire is betrayal. They have many times threatened to return to Kiev and clean out the “defeatists” and “traitors” there. One day they will make that attempt.

In short, Poroshenko does not control his forces.

These two problems are enough to suggest that Minsk-2 will not produce a settlement or even a continuous ceasefire.

And the above ignores any meddling from Washington.

Thus, I cannot share the optimism.

Report Claims Rebels Get Few Weapons from Russia

A colleague sent me the following report from Armament Research Services; Research Report #3: Raising Red Flags. It examines, in exhaustive detail, with many photographs, and much specialised information, the weaponry used by both sides in the Ukraine civil war. (It is even-handed and informed but, personally, I could do with less of the “pro-Russian separatist fighter” stuff. You don’t have to be “pro-Russian” to decide you don’t support people who are shelling you, call you “Moskal” and worship Bandera).

As we know, for months NATO, Washington and Western media outlets have been telling us that Russia is providing significant quantities of weapons the the rebels in East Ukraine. This report does not support that assertion. Neither, by the way, does it have evidence of significant outside supplies to the Kiev side.

The principal conclusion of the researchers is that while some weaponry from Russia probably has got to the rebels, most of their weaponry comes from captures or from existing bases and weapons caches (see “Where the Rebels Find their Weapons”).

This is their conclusion

ARES has assessed that it is very likely that pro-Russian separatist forces have received some level of support from one or more external parties, however the level of state complicity in such activity remains unclear. Despite the presence of arms, munitions, and armoured vehicles designed, produced, and allegedly even sourced from Russia, there remains no direct evidence of Russian government complicity in the trafficking of arms into the area (Reuters, 2014c). The majority of arms and munitions documented in service with separatist forces have evidently been appropriated from the Ukrainian security forces and their installations within Ukraine. The 1970s and 1980s vintage ex-Ukrainian military inventory is likely to continue to predominate. The various older and expedient types of arms and munitions outlined in this report should not be taken to mean that separatist forces are ill-equipped. Some of the more capable arms and munitions available to them have been outlined. However, ageing light weapons systems and larger ordnance, along with MANPADS and other SAM systems, will all retain a niche amongst pro-Russian forces in Ukraine for as long as government forces maintain their overwhelming advantage in air power and armour. The Ukrainian regime has access to more powerful weapon systems, in greater numbers, and with a more robust logistical chain than separatist forces could hope to muster without overt support from a foreign power. As it stands, the limited but noteworthy external support pro-Russian separatist forces have received has not proven significant enough to turn the tide in their favour.

“Real Journalism” Explained at Last

I have often heard the phrase “Real Journalism” (generally used in the sentence “RT, RIA/Novosti/Sputnik/insert-any-other-Russian-source, does not practise ‘Real Journalism’”. Always wondered what it meant. Now, thanks to an exchange between Mark Adomanis and a “Real Journalist” I do.

Adomanis wrote a piece for Forbes in which he pointed out that, according to the not especially Putin-friendly Levada polling centre, Putin’s popularity ratings were at an all time high. He concluded:

The point isn’t to defend Putin’s policies in Ukraine or the general trajectory of the Russian government. I’ve been extremely critical of both because both deserve to be criticized. The point is simply to note that the West’s policy so far has had precisely the opposite of its intended effect. Rather than weakening Putin and exposing him to expanded criticism, Western sanctions seem to have encouraged Russians to “rally ’round the flag.

One Oliver Bullough tweeted him, saying “My advice? Stop reporting Russia using numbers. More than anywhere Russia is about people.” The discussion continued and may be read here. Another revelation from Bullough: “So Mark, take your thinking a bit further…does Putin’s increasing poll rating justify his actions since Feb?”

Now Bullough writes for a number of Main Stream Media outlets, New Statesman, Guardian, Wall Street Journal, New Republic and so forth and may therefore be considered to practise “Real Journalism”.

I, in my naiveté, had always wondered what this “Real Journalism” actually was as applied to Russia. So now, thanks to Mr Bullough, we know:

Stay away from data and condemn Putin’s actions.

Advocacy is what that sounds like to me but because Bullough is a “Real Journalist” I must be mistaken.

Propaganda is the deliberate dissemination of information that you know to be false or misleading in order to influence an audience” as someone put it. Condemning RT as it happened, not “Real Journalism”.

The Western Spinners are Losing and They Know It

When I wrote “Those Horrible Russians are Winning the Information War” I was just amusing myself and having a laugh at the expense of Anne Applebaum. But I hadn’t realised that a whole campaign was beginning!

She was at a forum organised by Legatum; she being the Director of its Transitions Forum which deals with “countries that are striving to make the transition from authoritarianism to democracy”. Said forum, “organised by the Legatum Institute, in cooperation with the Atlantic Council and the US Department of State” worried that “Through the manipulation of facts and the integration of outright lies into mainstream narratives, the Russian government seeks to influence public opinion and shape Western politics.” One of the attendees was the US Ambassador to Ukraine (and participant in the infamous phone call setting up the coup d’état, or, as the conference participants would put it, the transition from authoritarianism to democracy in Ukraine.) Anyway, here he is is saying that, although he is fully confident he knows what’s going on in Ukraine, he hasn’t actually been to the east and that “The biggest lie Russia tells is that Ukraine is a society somehow divided”. And that he has no idea who’s paying for the conference.

So it wasn’t just Applebaum, it was a group and one of their purposes was to figure out “what can be done about it”. (Can we take a guess at their answer? Shut them down. Free speech requires that JRL, RT and other deviants be silenced. Truth has only room for One Truth). A campaign will coming to your Local News Outlet soon; watch for it. Here are the first appearances: Legatum again and something longer on “Russian Hybrid Warfare” quoting Applebaum approvingly.

The whole idea is preposterous. Has your Local News Outlet mentioned the evidence that the Malaysian airliner was shot down by a Ukrainian aircraft? How about evidence that the “Heavenly Hundred” were actually killed by “elements of the Maidan opposition, including its extremist far right wing”? Any questioning of NATO’s commercially-obtained satellite photos? Mention of atrocities by “volunteer battalions” in the east? No, of course it hasn’t. You can only read about MH17 on sites like, the Maidan killers in academic journals, NATO’s evidence is only criticised on websites, only Russian news sites report atrocities. These are easily dismissed as, in order: crazy conspiracy sites, probably not peer-reviewed, pro-Russian websites and Kremlin funded so-called news organisations. None of it is “real journalism” and therefore none of it is worthy of inclusion in your LNO.

Instead, your LNO has covered Russian submarines in Sweden, Russian air force aggressive flights (but not told you that NATO has quintupled its flights), and the monthly Russian invasion scare. And lots of Hitler-Putin comparisons. This is “real journalism”.

So what’s really going on here? Certainly not that your LMO is passively re-printing Kremlin news releases or that the Kremlin’s tactics are working and could undermine European democracy. Quite the reverse. So what are these people worried about?

The answer is pretty obvious when you think about it: they realise their story is failing.

And it may well be that the impetus for this preposterous plaint are the problems the Party Line (and why not use that word redolent of Communist mind-control?) is having in Germany; in that Germany which is certainly the most important part of the European anti-Russia front. First we have satirical pieces like this one in which it’s evident that the audience knows they’re being manipulated. That’s bad enough. But the real bombshell was the revelation by Udo Ulfkotte, a veteran German reporter and editor, that “I ended up publishing articles under my own name written by agents of the CIA and other intelligence services, especially the Bundesnachrichtendienst.” The effect has been dramatic; his book Gekaufte Journalisten (Purchased Journalists) is high on the German best seller lists and the falloff in site visits to German media outlets is immediate and spectacular.

Comments by readers on stories also reveal the failure of the Party Line. I’ll take the first five surviving comments on a Telegraph piece from September “Its time to back away from the Russian wolf” to illustrate my point. 1. Russia is entering economic collapse 2. The author is paid by the Kremlin 3. if Russia had wanted to topple Kiev, it would already have done so 4. Ukraine is unstable and only NATO can stabilise it and “it is not only Putin who is empire building” 5. thanks for countering the standard line. The first two fit the Party Line; the third notices one of its fundamental contradictions; the fourth, while somewhat confusing, starts out well enough but is too even-handed and the fifth is outright scornful. Two out of five; that’s worrisome.

In short, the Party Line is not selling very well. But it’s not because yappy little dogs in the Blogosphere are bringing it down; it’s not because RT is creating millions of Putinbots. These are insignificant against the Western MSM chanting in unison.

Which brings me neatly to the real reason why the Line isn’t selling very well: from FAIR’s dissection of the Washington Post’s coverage of Putin’s Sochi speech. “The thing is, if you’re going to say someone is a poisonous liar who traffics in conspiracy theories, then you should show that. That the Post doesn’t seem to feel the need to do so either means the evidence isn’t there, or that the burden of proof is very low when it comes to official enemies.”

The evidence either isn’t there, or the burden of proof is low. Indeed.

What’s killing the Washington-Brussels-NATO Party Line on Ukraine is not Sinister Putin mind-control but its inherent falsity. Consider some of the things they expect their audience to believe, at one and the same time.

  • That the best way to prevent oligarchs from looting your country is to make one of them president and appoint others as provincial governors.
  • That the only way to transcend Ukraine’s political failures is to appoint a bunch of people who have been in and out of governments for years.
  • That an election that excludes the parties that got 40%+ the last time around is perfectly democratic.
  • That the shoot-down of MH17 is an enormously important story until it suddenly isn’t.
  • That the rebels would shoot down an aircraft flying at 10000 metres heading towards Russia in a straight line.
  • That the Putin who is so determined to re-establish the Empire forgot to grab Georgia in 2008.
  • That people haven’t noticed that it’s NATO that’s getting closer to Russia and not the other way around.
  • That NATO gets its intelligence from tweets, twitters and blurry commercial satellite images.
  • That postponing implementation of the Ukraine-EU agreement is unacceptable right up to the moment that it is postponed.
  • That the fact that Ukraine owes Russia billions for gas it has consumed is evidence of Russian pressure on Ukraine.
  • That Russia is always invading but never actually invades.
  • That all those swastikas and neo-nazi references are just a figment of Putin’s imagination.
  • That artillery shells keep falling on civilians in eastern Ukraine but nobody knows where they come from.
  • That self-determination is perfectly acceptable in Kosovo but absolutely unacceptable in Ukraine.
  • That Nuland and Pyatt didn’t actually plan out the new government.
  • That conferences like the Legatum one are ever going to tell you anything that you can’t already guess.

The Party Line involves just too much doublethink and memory suppression to keep going without turning the volume up ever louder and silencing dissenters. And it’s not just that they have a bad hand of cards, but they’re playing them badly: surely they can do better than blurry photographs of combine harvesters.

That’s all. At some level the Legatum people know it and they are getting desperate.

And, by the way, in these days of the Internet it’s much harder to get away with it. Since I began writing this piece, I have learned that Anne Applebaum’s income has greatly increased and something about who is behind Legatum (just the people you’d guess, too).

A Dozen Theories About What’s Really Happening in Ukraine and One More

The unanimity of the Western media on Ukraine and the memory repression required to swallow it should make any intelligent reader suspicious. One moment MH17 is the Biggest Story Ever, the next moment there is no mention of it at all. The postponement of the Ukraine-EU agreement was unthinkable right up to the moment when it suddenly happened. NATO gets its intelligence from commercial services. An election in which parties that had got 40% of the vote the last time around were effectively banned is a triumph of democracy. The best way to end the rule of corrupt oligarchs is to pick one as president. And so on.

Therefore, there must be some other reason. Here are some theories to explain what’s going on. They are in no particular order and the reader is invited to mix and match.

  1. Brzezinski has frequently said that Russia plus Ukraine equals Empire. Brzezinski is said to have great influence on Obama’s policy. So Ukraine must put into the NATO box where Russia can’t get at it.
  2. Fracking is unpopular in Europe, there are said to be large deposits in eastern Ukraine; there is much money to be made.
  3. The GMO theory is similar to the fracking theory, Ukraine’s black-earth area is ideal for GMO food production.
  4. Frighten Europe with the “Russian threat” in order to curtail any desire for an independent foreign policy. Putin himself suspects this might be the reason.
  5. The Ukrainian oligarchs had run out of things to steal, so they concocted a scheme to attract IMF money to steal by manipulating the West. In order to make the coup happen, they enlisted the neo-nazis of Pravy Sektor and Svoboda and, realising that they could be dangerous, the oligarchs started a war in eastern Ukraine so as to kill them off.
  6. It’s really all about China. The aim is to frighten Europe with the “Russian threat” so that it expands defence spending and frees Washington to confront China in the Pacific.
  7. See Jon Hellevig’s exposition of why the West is destined to decline and is desperate to prevent or delay that decline.
  8. It’s a trap to catch a bear. If Russia openly intervenes, it can be treated as a pariah for decades; if it doesn’t, Ukraine will be a bleeding sore to weaken it for decades.
  9. It’s really all about preserving the US Dollar as the world’s reserve currency, very important pillar of Washington’s power.
  10. It’s Washington’s revenge on Moscow for preventing the attack on Syria last year.
  11. The US Navy wants a base in Crimea.
  12. It’s a chance to expand NATO further and keep it in business for years to come. Lots of employment and business opportunities there.

Finally, and never to be forgotten, those powerful drivers of history: stupidity and arrogance. We must recall that Obama and his advisors think Russia “makes nothing”. In short, they possess such a level of ignorance that any foolish or slapdash behaviour is to be expected.