Standort: / Meldung: "Riding Russia's Alternative MH-17 Reality "

Charles Maynes Moscow

Journalist in Moscow

14. 10. 2015 - 16:42

Riding Russia's Alternative MH-17 Reality

Yesterday, we learned that the Russian state arms manufacturer of the missile strongly suspected in the downing of Malaysian Air flight MH17 says its own investigation into the crash contradicts findings from a Dutch Safet Board probe into the tragedy.

Ok, fine. Kind of saw this coming.

Almaz-Antey CEO Yan Novnikov said evidence showed the plane was indeed hit by one of its BUK missile systems, as western nations have alleged, but that the weapon was an older Soviet model no longer used by the Russian military.

Ok, maybe. Certainly an interesting detail.

Novnikov also said his company's analysis also indicated the rocket was fired from territory under Ukrainian government control at the time of the crash.

"Today we can say for sure that the Malaysian Boeing was shot down by a BUK missile 9M38 from direction Zaroshenskoye," said Novnikov, referring to the area Russia says was held by Ukrainian forces.

Well... contraversial but hardly a surprise.

Also no surprise were comments today by Oleg Storchevoi – a top official with Russia's Aviation Agency and the Kremlin's main representative in the Dutch Safety Board probe.

Storchevoi said Russia "categorically disagreed" with the international investigation and called for an entirely new international probe into the MH-17 tragedy.

"We don't even know for sure that it was a BUK missile," added Storchevoi. "We're open to all theories."

Ah... shit. Here we go again.

MH17 Report


The rebuilt fuselage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 during a press conference to present the report findings of the Dutch Safety Board.

I think it's safe to say that the only thing Russians will ever really know about MH17 is this: the Malaysia Airlines flight crashed in July 17, 2014 over eastern Ukraine – killing all 298 people aboard.

Period. End of Story. The rest is subject to conjecture, purposefully blurred expert-babble, and infinity spin. The whole MH17 post-mortum has once again proven that, in Russia, facts are relative and nothing - nothing - is ever definitively true.

It's worth keeping in mind that the Almaz-Antey presentation came just hours before the Dutch Safety Board report issued its own long-anticipated report on the downing of flight MH17.

Odd timing, no?

Alexander Golts, a defense analyst in Moscow, says the timing of the dueling Russian presentation spoke volumes.

"This Moscow presentation appeared only because this report appeared in Holland. It's no doubt that the main point was to spoil the results," says Golts. "We all knew the conclusions of the Moscow report months ago."

Investigators comb the crash site of Malaysian Airlines passenger jet MH17.


Investigators comb the crash site of Malaysian Airlines passenger jet MH17.

While the international investigation does not - for now - seek to assess blame over the incident, Russia has chafed at evidence the Russian-made rocket was fired from rebel-held territory.

Still more incidiary have been suggestions of direct Russian culpability – with Russia's military perhaps even providing the BUK weapon itself.

The U.S., the government in Kiev, and European allies have repeatedly accused Russian military forces fighting alongside rebels – a charge Moscow denies.

As is well known by now, Moscow insists Russian fighters in Ukraine are merely volunteers and have provided various explanations for the MH17 crash - some credible, some crazy - all laying blame with the authorities in Kiev.

Fyodor Krasheninnikov, a Russian political analyst, says - much like the Soviet authorities long refusal to take responsibilty for the Katyn massacre of Polish soldiers during WWII - the current Kremlin occupants are unlikley to admit to any culpability in the downing of MH17 anytime soon.

"They will deny it until the end. To do otherwise, would be admit to Russians they'd been lying to them all along," says Krasheninnikov.

Yan Novikov, chief executive of Russian missile manufacturer Almaz-Antey, attends a news conference dedicated the crash Boeing 777 of Malaysian Airlines MH17


Yan Novikov, chief executive of Russian missile manufacturer Almaz-Antey, attends a news conference dedicated the crash Boeing 777 of Malaysian Airlines MH17

Over the proceeding months, Kremlin officials and state media prepared Russians for the idea the international MH17 investigation may be biased.

Today, Russian Aviation Agency's Storchevoi essentially screamed the fix is in.

Russia was denied access to the investigation, said Storchevoi. Russian investigators were given photographs rather than direct handling of materials. Russian experts' questions were ignored and data taken out of context.

Storchevoi also accused the international investigators of sloppiness, tampering with evidence, and - of course - jumping to conclusions.

That last point is particularly odd given the only thing the Dutch Safety Report didn't do was point fingers.

Alexander Goltz, the defense anlysist, said he found it "absolutely amazing" Russian Alternative MH17 report chose to go beyond the bounds of the Dutch perview and lay blame for the crash with Ukraine.

Golts says it showed "authorities are nervous Russians will begin to think Moscow is connected somehow with this terrible crime."

Maybe. I'm not so sure.

The more telling comment came from Almaz-Antey CEO Yan Novikov when he complained that Russian analysis submitted to the Dutch Safety Board had been ignored.

"You can ignore our findings, but you can't ignore facts," challenged Novnikov.

Indeed. Russia's MH17 alternate universe seems all about challenging facts. And as long as Russians do, we - sadly - can't.