On February 24, Bellingcat journalist group published a report named Potential Suspects and Witnesses from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, presenting information on the Russian brigade that we believe provided, and possibly operated, the Buk-M1 missile launcher that downed Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, Joinfo.ua reports.
Malaysian airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over separatist-held territory in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board.
An air accident investigation by the Dutch Safety Board released in October concluded that the Boeing 777 was destroyed by a Buk anti-aircraft missile fired from a position inside separatist territory.
The Bellingcat’s reports that from June 23 to 25, 2014, Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade transported several Buk-M1 anti-aircraft missile systems to areas near the Russia-Ukraine border.
According to Bellingcat “there is no direct evidence indicating if it was Russian or separatist soldiers who operated Buk 3×2 when it was in Ukraine. However, considering the complexity of the Buk-M1 system, it is most likely that the Russian military did not transfer a Buk missile launcher to separatist commanders without some guidance or a Russian crew. In the likely case that the Buk 3×2 did come with a Russian crew, it is almost certain that they were from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, which was deployed at the border throughout the summer of 2014”.
Bellingcat said also that their numerous reports proved that the Buk-M1 system that most likely downed MH17 was the Russian Buk 3×2.
The report contains five sections, each covering a different aspect of the 53rd Brigade and its activities in the summer of 2014.
However, in the summary Bellingcat concluded that “responsibility for the downing of MH17 from a weapon provided and possibly operated by the Russian military lies with the Ministry of Defense and the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces, President Vladimir Putin”.