An Alternative Track Trail: Another BUK, Another Day


It seems pro-Kiev investigators and crowdsourcers choose to suffer from a ¨tunnelvision¨. Actually, it is really not that hard to come up with a completely different story regarding their 17th July ¨track-a-trail¨ narrative, based on the same evidence they are using to blame the separatists for downing MH17.


Abstract (6 December 2016)

Until this day I still support the idea the Buk track-a-trail evidence through the Donbass is a narrative that raises a lot of red flags.

Nonetheless, because this alleged evidence is there, we have to deal with it one way or the other. One could, for example, suppose the images and videos have all been faked, as Sergey Mastepanov proved they could have been in studies in which he remade the existing visual evidence of the Buk transport with his own hands (see here and here).

Another way to use the imagery and supporting evidence available to attack the weakness of the standing narrative is by thinking about alternative scenarios in which these pieces of the puzzle also could fit, although telling another story. I tried to do this in this blogpost from May 2015 by assuming that – although the photos and videos of the Buk transport were real (for an important part) – they were not made on the day of the shooting nor showed the murder Buk.

With this method I tried to show foremost how organizations like Bellingcat work. They don’t evaluate the information, as they work from cherry picking unclear, unspecified, undated information from unknown sources that seems suitable to build a desired narrative around.

However, more visual “evidence” surfaced when time passed by, always solving an important question about the trail. The Makeevka satellite imagery supported the Makeevka video of a Buk transport (both released in the beginning of May 2016, 22 months after the crash). These two new pieces of evidence (though not included in an animation the JIT showed of the alleged Buk trail) bolstered the meager evidence of the start of the 17.7 trail in Donetsk.

The new Torez video, released by the Dutch police after the 28.9.2016 JIT presser, showed the important right side of the Buk, with clearer visibility than all other imagery before, ready to be used in a matching process to link a Russian delivered Buk to the alleged Buk that was responsable for downing MH17.

Anyway, somehow an alternative scenario has to deal with all this. So the investigation laid out here, starts with reviewing the old and new social media evidence of the trail.

Second, it concerns itself with the whereabouts of the Ukrainian Buks in ATO area, as they are the most probable units that could account for the “other” Buk. Were some units seized  by the rebels, as was claimed after they had raided a few Ukrainian airforce bases?

As more information was made available, e.g. by reports and websites, I tried to derive (in general terms) what had happened to the ATO Buk units from air-force bases in contested area and which Buk could have been used by rebels to move around the Donbass to account fo the imagery published.

At the bottom of this article there is an update in which I will test the hypothesis brought here, with the information about the ATO Buks whereabouts and possible candidates that could have been trailed through the Donbass earlier than July 17th.

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