MH17 crash: Ukraine security chief says missile only Kiev has may be found at crash site
Ukraine’s Security Council chief may have inadvertently spilled the beans, saying fragments of a Buk-M missile may be found with MH17 crash debris. However, the exact missile he mentioned is only possessed by Ukraine, Russian army officials say.
Investigation of the MH17 Boeing-777-200 crash in July will be completed when the remains of the Buk-M air defense missile are found, Valentin Nalivaichenko, head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), told Ukrainian TV.
Ukraine will fulfill its obligations and identify the perpetrators, who will bear responsibility and compensate for the damage for taking down the MH17 flight with 298 passengers and crew on board, Nalivaichenko said.
“It will be Russian servicemen who used the Buk-M missile” to take down the passenger jet, he said.
A source in Russia’s Joint Staff has commented on the issue to RIA Novosti news agency, saying that Nalivaichenko’s involuntary leak has revealed that Ukraine possesses a modernized version of the Soviet-made air defense complex.
In the early 1980s, the Soviet Union’s defense industry began production of the Buk-M1, an extremely effective, medium-range missile defense system.
Many of the Buk-M1s were stationed on the country’s western borders, on the territory of three regions in the Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, all those systems remained in Ukraine and today Kiev possesses no less than 70 such systems, RIA Novosti’s source said.
According to open sources, the Russian army operates over 350 Buk-M1-2 and Buk-M2 missile systems, with only the latest modified versions developed after Ukraine became independent in 1991 with the fall of the USSR. Russia’s modified versions came into operation in the late 1990s, and now have completely replaced the older, Soviet missile systems.
The Russian military expert stressed that Russia has no “modernized” Buk air defense systems.
Russia operates over 350 Buk missile systems, all of them of the latest versions of the Buk M1-2 and Buk M2, he said.
“When Mr Nalivaichenko mentions a ‘modernized Buk’ system, he probably means an air defense system that was upgraded by the Ukrainian defense industry. We know that Ukraine has been working in this direction,” the source said, adding that the information about the modernization of Ukrainian Buk systems was confirmed in late June on the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s website, which reported renovated missile systems becoming operational.
This happened just a few weeks before the Malaysian Airlines Boeing-777-200 was shot down in Ukrainian airspace on July 17.
According to the source in Russia’s Joint Staff, any unauthorized modification of the electronics of complicated military hardware would do no good, as it would degrade the accuracy of the weapon.
Originally, all Buk air defense systems operated in Ukraine were produced at the high-security Research Institute of Instrumentation plant in the Moscow Region.
“The confusion and inconsistency of Nalivaichenko’s responses leaves no doubt that he mentioned a plan that definitely had not been developed by the SBU, but rather brought in the other day from their overseas mentors,” the Joint Staff source said. “This is Nalivaichenko and his big mouth blunder.”
On the day that the MH17 was shot down, Ukraine’s 156th SAM regiment carried out an unauthorized missile launch, an emergency situation that is being investigated by the SBU and obviously being hushed up by Kiev authorities, the official said.
“You don’t need to be a genius to put together the elements of this puzzle and understand what kind of a picture Mr Nalivaichnko is attempting to sell us,” the source at Russia’s Joint Staff said.