We conclude Dr George Venturini’s exposé into the shooting down of MH17.
Beyond the fog (continued)
Claims of indirect Russian responsibility for the destruction of MH17 continue to be at the heart of the U.S.-N.A.T.O. propaganda over Ukraine, but the Preliminary Report says nothing of the sort. In fact, it does not even state that the aircraft was shot down.
The Preliminary Report states that, in accordance with the stated “sole objective” of “the prevention of similar accidents and incidents,” it does not “apportion blame or liability in respect of any party”. No more.
The only ground on which the media can again repeat their assertions that pro-Russian separatists were responsible is the Preliminary Report’s statement that “The damage observed in the forward section of the aircraft appears to indicate that the aircraft was penetrated by a large number of high-energy objects from outside the aircraft”.
But the Report never once specifies what it means by “high-energy objects”. It also claims that, even though enough of the wreckage was recovered to confirm that the aircraft appears to have been particularly badly hit above the level of the cockpit floor, the Board’s investigators supposedly failed to recover or study any of the objects that penetrated the plane.
The Report fails to mention radar and satellite data presented on 21 July by the Russian military, indicating that a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet was in the immediate vicinity and ascending towards MH17 as it was shot down. Missiles and machine gun rounds fired by an SU-25 are also “high-energy objects.” This possibility has not been addressed, let alone refuted by the Ukraine government, the American administration or anyone else involved in the investigation. Despite Russia continually requesting that the American administration supply the investigation with the images and data it obviously possesses relating to the MH17 crash, it has refused to do so.
Silence was the preferred reaction.
Mr. Abbott felt comforted by The New York Times of 10 September 2014. The paper continues to call itself ‘a newspaper of record’, but on the downing of MH17 it has been misreporting, and misleading its readers from the day of the tragedy. It has continued to propagate anti-Russian sentiments in the United States and to support the Ukrainian government.
In an article titled: ‘Report finds missile strike likely in crash of Flight 17’ and datelined Brussels, two of The New York Times reporters wrote in their lead paragraph that “investigators, in their first account of the calamity, released evidence … consistent with an attack by a surface-to-air missile but shed no clear light on who was responsible” They went on to write, on the basis of no evidence at all, that the Preliminary Report “…gave some indirect support to assertions by the United States and Ukraine that pro-Russian rebels shot down the aircraft with an SA-11, or Buk, surface-to-air missile”.
Both paragraphs are completely at odds with the Report. Nothing of the sort.
In fact, the Report makes absolutely no mention at all of an SA-11 missile being the cause of the downing. On the contrary, it states quite clearly:
“Noting that the investigation team has not yet had the opportunity to recover [the components of the cockpit and front of the plane] for forensic examination, photographs from the wreckage indicated that material around the holes was deformed in a manner consistent with being punctured by high-energy objects. The characteristics of the material deformation appear to indicate that the objects originated from outside the fuselage”.
And the investigators also wrote:
“The pattern of damage observed in the forward fuselage and cockpit section of the aircraft was consistent with the damage that would be expected from a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside”. And no more.
There is no mention of a specific missile. This is important, because there are witnesses – eyewitnesses on the ground, and Russian radar records – which suggest that there were one or two Ukrainian fighter jets flying near the MH17 just before it went down.
Nowhere does the Preliminary Report suggest responsibility for the downing of Flight 17. Nowhere does it offer speculation or analysis which would eliminate one option or another as to what brought down the plane, or of who was responsible.
Later in the article, the reporters noted that Mr. Tjibbe H. J. Joustra, chairman of the Dutch Safety Board, “said in a telephone interview from the Hague that a final report would be issued sometime in the middle of next year and investigators hoped to clarify ‘the type of object that penetrated the plane’ ”.
Clearly, that would mean that thus far investigators have no idea what or whose it was.
But The New York Times also took the liberty of reporting that what Mr. Joustra said implied that a BUK SA-11 missile was likely responsible for the downing were the separatist rebels – and thus the Russians by extension – were responsible for this reprehensible event.
In reality, even if it were established that the plane was downed by a Buk or SA-11, that conclusion would do nothing to solve the question of who launched it.
There remains the question of why on earth Russia, or the rebels, would have wanted to down a western civilian aircraft, thus bringing down the wrath of N.A.T.O. and the western public on them.
Vladimir Chizov, Russia’s ambassador to the European Union in Brussels, said that the Preliminary Report shed no significant light on what had happened and said Russia, unlike the West, had stayed interested in the fate of Flight 17. “Until today, it seemed as if the whole crash was forgotten for several months by everybody except Russia – and perhaps Malaysia” he said. “There was silence”.
On the evening of 9 September 2014 Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss – Leader of the Nationals – welcomed the Report’s findings and said they made it clear the tragic downing “was not due to aircraft malfunction or pilot error”.
“The findings are consistent with the Government’s statement that MH17 was shot down by a large surface-to-air missile” said a statement by Mr. Abbott and Mr. Truss.
“The international community must remain focused on finding, prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators of this cowardly attack.
“We owe this to the innocent victims of the MH17 downing and their families”.
A national memorial service was held on 7 August in Melbourne, where Prime Minister Abbott told mourners MH17 victims would never be abandoned or forgotten.
“There will be a time to judge the guilty, but today we honour the dead and we grieve with the living” he said at the service held in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. “We cannot bring them back, but we will bring them home as far as we humanly can”.
On 10 September 2014 Malaysia’s transport minister Mr. Liow Tiong Lai said those behind the attack must be punished. “I call upon the international community and all of those involved in the Ukraine conflict to seek justice and find the perpetrators who caused this brutal act of aggression” Mr. Lai said. “As we mourn the loss of all 298 passengers and crew, we will not relent until those responsible are brought to justice”.
Prime Minister Abbott issued a statement in response to the Report, saying that the preliminary findings “make clear that the tragic downing of MH17 was not due to aircraft malfunction or pilot error”.
Then came a surprise.
On 15 August 2014 the Russian Union of Engineers made available its ‘Analysis‘ of the causes of the crash of Flight MH17.
The analysis concerned itself with two main issues:
- What are the circumstances of the crash?
- Who could have been involved in the plane’s destruction?
As the Russian Report says: “A group of experts from the Russian Union of engineers was convened to analyze the situation, including reserve officers with experience in the use of anti-aircraft missile systems, as well as pilots having experience with aircraft weapons. This problem was also discussed at a meeting of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, where many variants were tested and discussed again. In the course of their analysis the experts used materials derived from public sources, found in the media. The situation was also analyzed using a computer simulation of the Su-25”.
As a result of such work, the engineers offered the following analytical material:
“The general conditions in the air in the vicinity of Donetsk were discussed at a special briefing held 21.07.2014 by the Russian Defense Ministry on questions about the destruction of Flight MH17 while it was in the sky over Ukraine.
At the briefing, the Chief of the Main Operations Directorate, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Lieutenant-General Andrew Kartapolova presented in his speech objective monitoring data from the period 17.10 to 17.30 hours Moscow time.
During this period, in that air space, three civilian aircraft were operating regular flights:
- A flight from Copenhagen to Singapore at 17:17 [12.17];
- A flight from Paris to Taipei at 17:24 [12.24];
- A flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
In addition, Russian air traffic control recorded the ascent of a Ukrainian Air Force aircraft, presumably an Su-25, in the direction of the [MH17]. The distance between the SU-25 aircraft from the Boeing 777 was between 3 and 5 km”.
The Russian engineers Report continues:
“A detailed analysis of its fragments can provide a more complete picture of the causes of the crash. In reviewing the photos of the plane fragments presented on the Internet, you can see the different forms of damage to its shell or skin – tears and factures, holes with folds on the outer and the inner sides of the fuselage, tell-tale signs of a powerful external impact on the plane”.
Attaching several pictures, the Report continues:
“Of particular note are the holes folded inward in the fuselage. They are round-bored, and usually grouped. Such holes can only be formed by metal objects with a circular cross-section, possibly rods or shells from an aircraft gun.”
And the Report notes:
“The question arises: who could deliver such projectiles to the aircraft, by what means, and what might they look like ?”
The Russian Union of Engineers had studied those basic versions which have already been presented by experts from various countries. Taking into consideration the technical side of the issue, it concluded that they could assert that the [MH17] would have been destroyed by means of anti-aircraft weapons – either by ground-launched anti-aircraft missiles or by other aircraft armed with missiles and cannon. Using the methods of engineering analysis, the experts of the Russian Union of Engineers have looked at both of these versions, towards which practically all the pronouncements of experts and specialists converged.
The Russian Report devoted quite some space in considering the possibility that the MH17 was destroyed by an anti-aircraft missile system, for example, a Buk-M1.
The Report went on:
“6.1.4. The narrative detailing the use of the BUK-M1 Rocket complex, in the opinion of our experts, contains a number of issues which render it, as an accurate chronicle of events, open to doubt”.
Nevertheless, the Report considered the possibility at great length.
After a lengthy, technical discussion of the case that the MH17 might have been downed by a surface to air missile, the Russian Report concluded:
“That which has been written above renders doubtful the initial proposition that the [MH17] was brought down by the means of anti-aircraft missile fire from a BUK-M1 installation”.
It then proceeded to consider the alternative proposition: that the MH 17 was destroyed as a result of air-air rocket-cannon fire.
“7.1. In support of this version the following circumstantial factors can be observed:
7.1.1. There were many witnesses who reported in the sky, in the region where the Boeing crashed, a military plane (some witnesses report two), assumed to be a fighter, as reported, given the height and speed (Altitude of the fighter being 5000—7000 m, and the velocity 950 kmh). There were also reports of aviation noise in the sky. It is possible that these reports relate to MIG-29 or SU-29 aircraft.
The armament of the MIG-29 includes the single-barrelled cannon GSH-301 (30 mm, comprising 150 rounds, rate of fire 1500 rounds/minute) in the port wing root. There are six hard-points under the wing which can be utilised: for Air-Air combat: 6 R60 guided missiles or Р-73 short range I/R guided missiles; 4 close range guided missiles and two mid-range guided missiles Р-27РE with radio lock-on or Р-27ТE I/R guided system Р-77.
Also according to the Russian Defence Ministry, on the 17th of July, Russian Air traffic control tracked an aeroplane, potentially an SU-25, of the Ukrainian Air force, climbing towards the [MH17]. The distance between the two aircraft did not exceed 3—4 km.
It must be noted that, in line with its specifications, the SU-25 is capable of briefly reaching heights in excess of 10 thousand metres. Standard equipment includes R60 Air to Air missiles. These missiles are capable of engaging and destroying targets to a range of up to 10km with a 100% hit ratio up to 8 km. Accordingly it is not necessary for the aeroplane to closely approach the target – It will be sufficient to simply ensure that the distance to the target falls within the guaranteed limits of the missile.
7.1.2. The Russian Defense Ministry said that Russian military radar detected the ‘Dome’ Ukrainian air defense system battery ‘Buk-M1’,working, on the day of the Malaysian Boeing 777 disaster.
7.1.3. An SU-25 and MIG-29 appear identical on radar, insofar as they have similar sized reflective surfaces. The practical surface ceiling of a MIG-29 is 18013 m, thus the height at which the Malaysian airliner was travelling (10100 m) can be easily reached. The MIG-29 has two engines generating high thrust which allows the plane to reach speeds of up to 2000 kmh.
7.1.4. The meteorological conditions also support the narrative of the [MH17] being attacked by another aircraft. The weather conditions in the region of Donetsk city from 1500 – 1800 on the 17th July 2014 are characterised by rain and thick cloud. The route of the flight passes above the cloud base of the upper level. At this height only cirrus clouds are present. These are sparsely occurring, white fibrous and transparent clouds, occasionally with thick or flaky formations. These are arranged in the apparent bundles or strands stretching across, meeting at the horizon. The average height of the lower boundary of these clouds is between 7 to 10 thousand metres and the cloud layer can measure in width from hundreds of metres to a few kilometres.
An attack by a military plane swiftly ascending from the cloud layer could come as a surprise to the crew of the [MH17]. The attack would not be observable from the ground because of the thick layer of cloud at the medium and lower levels.
On this basis, the thesis can be advanced with confidence that the [MH17] flying a horizontal course at 10000 metres could quite feasibly find itself within range of the Rocket / Cannon armament of a fighter, either a MIG-29 or an SU-25”.
The Russian Report then considered the question: What weapons led to the destruction of the [MH17]?
“Both the MIG-29 and the SU-25 can be equipped with short range P-60M guided missiles.
The MiG-29 is equipped with a 30-millimeter GSh-301 cannon, firing at a rate of 1500 rounds per minute. This gun is loaded with 150 shells containing tungsten alloy. Its effective range for airborne targets is 200-800 m, for land-based targets, 1200-1800 m. This kind of projectiles pass through, leaving a track that is perfectly round in shape; they do not explode inside the cabin and are not incendiary, but they can kill the crew and destroy the cabin. The entry and exit holes exhibit a typical configuration. The entry holes show the edges pushed inside the opening; on the opposite wall, the edges are pushed outward.
The Su-25 is equipped with GSH-2-30 guns.
In addition the Su-25 may carry SPPU-22 containers with 23-mm GSh-23L dual-barrel cannons.
During combat both types of cannons are used against aerial targets to cause damage analogous to that seen on the wreckage of the [MH17]”.
At this point the Russian Report concluded that:
“ … according to the analysts from the Russian Union of Engineers, we have the complete destruction of the [MH17] as [a result of] missile systems using ‘air-to-air’ close-combat missiles as well as a 30-mm aircraft cannon or an SPPU-22 container with GSh-23L 23-mm dual-barrel guns. At the same time, when firing on a target, a laser range finder can be used, or a laser sight, that allows for significantly improved accuracy. This is indicated by the pattern of damage and the dispersal of the fragments: there are round holes, which are typically produced as a result of gun shots, and discontinuous holes characteristic of flechette rockets”.
Further analysing the debris, the Russian Report said:
“If we consider the first version of the crash, it is evident from the way the holes are arranged in the fragments of the flat surfaces and the fuselage that they do not reflect the typical picture of the impact of “Buk-M1” missiles, which would have left a very noticeable and characteristic pattern of damage marks. In this case, it is clear that there are no such traces on the debris fragments.
As far as the possibility of such damage resulting from close-combat ‘air-to-air’ missiles, it should be noted that the R-60 (Su-27) and R-73 (Mig-29) are low-power rockets for close air combat, with infrared guidance. Their kill radius is only 3-5 meters, and a sure hit requires direct contact. The mass of the warheads in the former case is 3.5 kg, in the latter, 5 kg. The warheads contain fine particles of tungsten wire. These are pretty weak rockets; they are designed exclusively for small targets. Such missiles follow the heat trail and are primarily designed to kill the engine.
It would be logical to assume that the damage shown in [the following photo] is more commonly associated with aircraft cannon shells of the GSH or SPPU type.
Damage to the Boeing 777 is not characteristic of the SAM “BUK-M1” missile.
As further shown in the following photograph:
“The picture of the entry and exit holes in the cockpit of the [MH17] are fully consistent with the passage through the flight of shells from the 20-30 mm caliber guns found on military aircraft. This confirms the second version of what brought down the Boeing. This is further supported by the way the puncture holes are dispersed along the surface of the aircraft. The edges of the fragment of the fuselage from the left side of the cockpit are folded from the inside outward, which indicates that a significant blast occurred within the cockpit as a result of the dynamic impact of the shells on the right side.
On the trim panel the characteristic entry holes are visible as well as some exit points. The edges of the holes are bent inward; they are much smaller and are circular in shape. The exit openings are less clearly formed; their edges are torn outward. In addition, it is clear that exit holes broke through double aluminum lining and tilted it outward. That is, the strike elements ([judging] by type of impact – aircraft cannon shells) punched right through the cockpit. The open rivets were also bent outward”.
All this appears even clearer from the following photograph:
A fragment of the Boeing 777. Clearly seen are the entry holes in the outer layer, folded inward, caused by a 30-мм gun.
The Russian Report went on:
“The general typology of the holes and their location suggest that is most likely the [MH17] was fired on using a GSh-2-30 aircraft cannon or an SPPU-22 container with dual-barrel 23-mm GSh-23L cannons: sighting was targeted in the area of the cockpit; while the shells that broke through the cockpit proceeded out the other side and caused damage to the flat surface of the wing (see photo 20). Both types of weaponry cause damage to aerial targets analogous to that seen on the fragments of the[MH17].
The nature of the holes on the fragments of the skin surfaces and fuselage shown on information networks allows us to assert that it was missiles/gunfire from an aircraft that was used”.
After a detailed reconstruction of the event, the Russian Report dealt with the party responsible for the death of 283 passengers and 15 crew members:
“On 17.07.2014, the armed forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk National Republic had no relevant combat aircraft capable of destroying an aerial target similar to the [MH17], nor the necessary airfield network, nor the means of radar detection, targeting and tracking.
No combat aircraft of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation violated the airspace of Ukraine, which the Ukrainian side confirms as well as third parties who conduct space surveillance over the situation in Ukraine and in its airspace.
To establish the truth, it is necessary to objectively and impartially investigate all the circumstances of the destruction of the [MH17], to interview the thousands of citizens who may have seen something. Naturally, experienced professionals should conduct the surveys. To ask the right questions – this is a rigorous science, and a great art in advancing the truth. Important information is contained in the wreckage of the aircraft and the remains of the dead, but this precise information is easy to destroy, distort and hide. And there are plenty of parties interested in concealing the real facts. As confirmation, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia signed an agreement on August 8 providing that information about the crash investigation would be disclosed only upon the consent of all parties. “The investigation is ongoing, [utilizing] expertise and other investigative actions” – announced the Spokesman of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Yuri Boychenko. “The results will be announced at the conclusion of the investigation and with the consent of all parties that have executed the agreement”.
Procrastination and the evasion of an objective investigation by all sides, with the participation of prestigious international organizations, raises doubts whether the concerned parties will make public the true circumstances surrounding the crash of the [MH17]”.
On 20 September 2014 Ukraine’s former president Kuchma, speaking of the negotiations among members of a Contact Group – Russia, the separatists and the Kiev Government – meeting in the Belarus capital, said that the implementation of a memorandum just signed was to start the following day.
The Contact Group had begun a new round of talks on 19 September. Kiev authorities and pro-independence fighters in southeastern Ukraine had agreed on complete ceasefire, establishment of the buffer zone, withdrawal of heavy weapons away from the contact line on both sides, and deployment of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitoring mission.
Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics and the O.S.C.E. aligned positions and formulated a memorandum of nine provisions that will regulate the implementation of a ceasefire agreement between Kiev and independence supporters in eastern Ukraine. The agreement includes setting up a 30 kilometres buffer zone, a ban on over-flights of part of eastern Ukraine by military aircraft and the withdrawal of ‘foreign mercenaries’ on both sides.
The trilateral Contact Group had first met to discuss the situation on Ukraine on 5 September agreeing upon a ceasefire in east Ukraine which began that same day.
The five-month conflict has killed over 3,000 people so far, in addition to damaging Ukraine’s economy.
But the Minsk agreement did not satisfy American Air Force General Philip Breedlove. He is the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and thus the distant successor to General Wesley K. Clark already mentioned.
General Breedlove, speaking after a meeting with N.A.T.O. military chiefs in Vilnius, Lithuania, declared that truce was “in name only.” N.A.T.O. has plans to bolster its military presence in countries bordering Russia, including the Baltic states, which used to be part of the Soviet bloc.
One need not refer to Georges Clemenceau and his famous saying “War is too serious a matter to entrust to military men” to advise General Breedlove to keep out of diplomatic matters. But General Breedlove is too important a person to be ignored; he is ‘a big lifter’ in the American administration.
On the evening of 22 September 2014 the Australian Foreign Minister, in complete lockstep with General Breedlove, went on television to express her contempt for the Russian Report and to repeat the usual propaganda against Russia. This might have been the first time that viewers were told of the existence of that Report. No matter – just propaganda, rubbish!
In different circumstances it might have seemed unusual for a person like Ms. Julie Bishop. Ms. Bishop came from a well-off South Australian family, was educated at a privileged private school in Adelaide, where she went to university and graduated in law in 1978. She should know the meaning of the word ‘evidence’. After some years of practice as a barrister and solicitor in Adelaide, she moved to Perth where she joined a prestigious law firm and easily climbed into the local well-society. In 1998 Ms. Bishop entered the federal parliament for the Liberal Party, of which she is now Deputy Leader and Foreign Minister.
Perhaps she destroyed the myth that bully-sm as a way of behaving belongs exclusively to Australian men.
When the fog does not lift, everything is possible in a vassalised place.
Of liars, war criminals, bullies and a Jesuit manqué
The entire Australian political Establishment seized on the tragic deaths of 298 people in the crash of MH17 in Ukraine to ratchet up the escalating U.S.-led provocations against Russia.
Before any investigation team reached the disaster site in eastern Ukraine, the Liberal-National Coalition government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, followed by the Labor Party Opposition – the two wings of a decaying sub-tropical Westminster System – accused Russian-supported separatists in eastern Ukraine of shooting down the plane, and called for retribution against the rebels and Russia itself.
This irrepressible fanaticism must be seen under the long arch and in the light of post second world war political fortunes in the place. One third of that time saw at the government of Australia Liberal-National Coalitions – which incidentally are not liberal but backwoodsman’s conservative, aided and blackmailed by the agrarian-socialists who are only concerned with their narrow privileges, though they call themselves National. Naturally!
There were first almost 17 sycophantic years of Menzies (1949-1966), an hallucinating monarchist who distinguished himself by lying to the Australian populace over a ‘request’ from Saigon’s clique in 1962. That lie would cost the lives of 521 Australian boys and cause untold misery to the Vietnamese people. The requesting communication was never produced and/or found.
In time Menzies would be followed for 11 stultifying years by another boring monarchist, John Howard (1996-2007). He happened to be in Washington at the time of 9/11 and gave prompt, obsequious guarantees to President G.W. Bush that ‘Australia would be there’ – in Afghanistan, first and then in Iraq. That war crime cost the lives of some 1,455,590 people, and caused the dispersions of millions of refugees.
The Abbott Government – by far much more right-wing than the previously mentioned, viscerally Anglophile and unflinchingly America-dependent than the previous ones – has committed 600 Australians to the new venture in the Middle East. The purpose of the new commitment – not to a war, of course, oh no! – is to carry out a “humanitarian mission with military elements”. That amounts to much more than treble-speak. Humanitarianism is the pretence, not the purpose.
Dr. George Venturini has devoted sixty years to the study, practice, teaching, writing and administering of law in four continents. He is the author of eight books and about 100 articles and essays for learned periodicals and conferences. Since his ‘retirement’ Dr. Venturini has been Senior Associate in the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash; he is also an Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University, Melbourne. He may be reached at George.Venturini@bigpond.com.