Military expert: Only Russia could supply BUK-M1 to the terrorists

Ukraine Crisis Media Center

Kyiv, 22 July 2014 – The BUK M-1 system that was used by terrorists to shoot down MH17 Flight could only be supplied by Russia, said Deputy Minister of Defense, commander of the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces in 1996-2000, Colonel-General Oleksandr Stetsenko, during a briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

The expert explained why Ukraine could not have been involved in the downing of the plane. According to Colonel-General Stetsenko, all planes that cross the Ukrainian border are tracked by Ukraine’s unified air traffic control system. The plane was following a determined route, which is why Ukraine could not have any doubts that this was a civil aircraft.

Former commander of the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces said that a missile strike at 10,100 m could be launched using a BUK or a Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile system, both of which Russia has in its arsenal. However, there is no data suggesting that Pantsir-S1 could be available in the launch area.     

“Both BUK and Pantsir-S1 allow military tasks to be carried out using a single autonomous unit. However, minimum crew training time for this is 6 months,” said the expert.

He added that it is difficult to acquire a small, maneuvering target using this autonomous unit, but a passenger plane is a large target that was moving in a predictable manner, which made it easy to acquire. At the same time, an AN-26 aircraft, which many believe to have been the terrorists’ target, flies at 6.5 km.

Furthermore, Mr. Stetsenko emphasized that the Buk missile system, in particular its warhead, has unique, easily identifiable, characteristics. This is why, according to the expert, Russia will not allow an adequate investigation, which should involve the examination of plane debris and victims’ bodies. “All possible evidence has already been removed,” Mr. Stetsenko said.

Former commander of the Ukrainian Air Defense urged the international community to properly respond to the disaster: “Because the plane was carrying passengers of various nationalities, this event needs to be classified as international terrorism,” Mr. Stetsenko said.

Oleksandr Stetsenko was the Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine and Commander of the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces in 1996 – 2000. He holds a PhD in military sciences, he is a lecturer of operational art and a professor at the Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv.



Russia may have trained Ukraine separatists to use missiles, U.S. says
David S. Cloud
Los Angeles Times | July 18, 2014

Reporting from Washington

Pro-Russia separatists who are believed to have used the “Buk” antiaircraft missile system to shoot down a Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine probably needed Russian assistance to operate it, senior U.S. officials said Friday.

The Russian-designed missile system, also known as an SA-11, “is a sophisticated piece of technology, and it strains credulity to think that it could be used by separatists without at least some measure of Russian support and technical assistance,“ Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon.

Whether Russian military personnel were involved, either in training Ukrainian militants or actually operating the system, is emerging as a key question for U.S. intelligence agencies and for crash investigators, the officials said. Russia has blamed the Ukrainian government for the crash .

The Buk is a medium-range surface-to-air missile system mounted on mobile launchers that was developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and is still produced by Russian arms producers, including one sanctioned by the Obama administration the day before the airliner was shot down.

It can reportedly hit targets as high as 72,000 feet, well above the 33,000 feet at which the Malaysian jet was flying  when it was shot down.

The U.S. has stopped short of asserting publicly that there is solid evidence directly implicating Russia in the attack, which killed 298 passengers and crew members, including an Dutch-American dual citizen. Officials have also been careful to note that the finding that separatists fired the missile is only a preliminary conclusion by U.S. intelligence agencies.

But American officials, including Gen. Philip Breedlove, the top commander at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, have warned publicly even before Thursday’s tragedy that Russia was providing the radar-guided, mobile antiaircraft system to separatists. The U.S. has also said that Russia is providing the militants with military advisors, some of whom are in Ukraine.

“Because of the technical complexity of the SA-11, it is unlikely that the separatists could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel,”  Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council during an emergency session Friday on the crash. “Thus we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems.”

Power noted that Ukraine’s military, which has been battling separatists near the Russian border, also has the SA-11 in its arsenal. But she said that the U.S. had no information indicating they had moved the missile-carrying vehicles to Eastern Ukraine, where the missile that struck the airliner was fired.

She called for investigators to be granted immediate, full and unfettered access to the crash site, which is in a militant-held area near Ukraine’s border with Russia.

“Separatists were spotted hours before the incident with an SA-11 system at a location close to the site where the plane came down,” Power said.

Kirby said that “some separatists have received some training in these vehicle-borne systems. There’s no question about that.”


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