Memories, Recollections, Guesses
and Speculations about MH17

by The Saker
July 18, 2014

Intro and caveat

I think that any analysis of the events surrounding the downing of MH17 should begin with the following admission: no matter what, the Anglo-Zionists [comprised of the governments of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel, and, with their pretensions to rule the world, constituting the Anglo-Zionist Empire] will blame Russia.  Just like 9/11, there is no way, no amount of evidence, which would affect the unanimous chorus of Imperial doubleplusgoodthinkers in their conclusion that obviously it could only have been "the Russians". So don't expect to come across The Proof which will prove that the Empire is lying because if 9/11 proved anything it is that even hard, undeniable truth can be easily ignored by the elites and their media.

Second, I have to begin my "kind of analysis" with the following disclaimer: My information on air defense issues is about 25-30 years old, which means that not only could my memory fail me, but things might have changed a great deal since I was last exposed to them.  Finally, the place from which I observed air defense happening was a rather peculiar one: from a underground army command center's air defense room which included a live fused (civilian+military) image of all the air traffic over an entire continent.  I never got anywhere near a SAM site in my life, and I sure have never seen one being operated.  Still, there are a few things which I know which might be relevant to this case. 

How air defense normally works

The control of airspace is done by two completely different networks: a civilian and a military one.  The civilian one is the one people think of when they hear ATC (air traffic control).  These are the folks who manage flight plans, who talk to pilots on different altitudes, who track the aircraft during the flight and make sure that there is enough distance between them.  Depending on an airplane's altitude and what it is doing, it remains in contact with different ATCs but they all work together.  One more thing: the radars used by civilian ATC are very primitive, all they can "see" is a bearing.  What helps them is that all aircraft have a so-called "transponder" to transmit a special message which indicates their ID, speed, altitude and course.  The ATC then superimposes that info on his screen to get a pretty accurate idea of what the aircraft is doing.  The important thing about all this is that the military is normally patched straight into that data and that it can use it to supplement the data military radars acquire by themselves.  In other words, a military air defense network "sees" and "knows" everything that a civilians ATC knows and sees.

The task of military air defense is dramatically different from civilian ATC: the military expects to deal with aircraft who will do their utmost to remain undetected and once detected, the military air defense network has to figure out a way to hopefully shoot down the enemy aircraft.  As a result, the kind of technology used by the military is very different.

The first "layer" of a military air defense network will be long-range detection radars.  Their task is to try to detect an airborne target as far away as possible. Although one type of radar can do this alone, typically data from different radars (including airborne ones) is fused to create a single picture.  Already at this point the air defense command post will be patched in into the civilians ATC and it will have all the flight plans, airline names, aircraft types and expected flight routes.  The air defense command post's first task is to separate civilians (considered neutral) from possible hostiles.  99% of flights are routine and regular, the folks in charge have a very good idea of what a normal sky looks like, they see the scheduled civilians aircraft doing their thing and they easily track them.  Some military radars even have the capability to detect the kind of aircraft they are seeing on their radar simply by analyzing the radar signal bounced back (typically by the aircraft's engine).  If a target is ambiguous, the military can use a very different type of radar to track that target: this target acquisition radar will operate on a different frequency, it will have a much narrower beam, and it will provide the operator with much more info about the aircraft even if the aircraft does not have a working transponder (which would be most unusual for a civilian airliner).  Again, modern armed forces have the means to fuse the data from many different radar types (including airborne radars) to calculate a solution to identify and track a target.  The next step is the send a special signal, like a password, to check if aircraft might not be one of your own.  Civilian aircraft are not capable of this kind of "electronic handshake". Finally, if the military air defense command post believes that the target is hostile it selects the best radar and missile combination to engage the target.  Typically, this is done yet again by a highly specialized radar which sends a burst of energy to the target which is reflected by the airborne target and which is then caught either by a ground-based radar or even by the missile itself (that is called TVM track-via-missile) which then can guide itself to the target without emitting any signal (alternatively, the missile can use its own active guidance system which sends and receives radar signals).  Advanced air defense networks, such as Russia's, can automatically choose the best radar for each task, the missile most likely to hit, the number of missiles needed for the task, the most threatening target, the mode of engagement, etc.  These systems are highly integrated and highly automated, which also means that they are much safer than more primitive systems (more about that later).  They are also highly redundant which in practical terms means that if, say, in an ideal environment a missile system like the Buk M1 is just one part of a much bigger network of systems, it can also operate almost autonomously if needed (again, more about that later).

Now we need to look at the "who had what" on the day of the tragedy.  First, let's look at 

The Russikies and their capabilities

While, obviously, they don't share with me the details of their moves, it is a pretty safe guess, especially considering the war going on right across the border, that the Russians literally had it all on that day: civilians radars, of course, but also long-range radars (ground-based and airborne), lots of advanced surveillance (long-range detection) radars, lots of tracking and fire control radars and numerous radio and signal interception stations.  Since all the data from this integrated network of systems could be fused at the higher level command posts we can safely assume that the Russian side had something like "20/20 radar vision": just about as good as it can get.  There is no way the Russians shot down this aircraft by mistake.

What about the Ukrainians?

Here the reality is dramatically different: Almost all of the Ukrainian air defense equipment is hopelessly outdated, far in excess of its normal shelf life.  The Ukie air defense systems have not trained with live firing for decades.  Unlike the Russians, who use contracted professionals on all crucial levels, the Ukies are known to be using conscripts simply due to a lack of funds.  To illustrate the bloody mess the Ukie air defenses are, it is enough to recall here how gross incompetence, mismanagement and outdated equipment resulted in the downing of the Siberian Airlines civilian aircraft in 2001.  Since then, things in the Ukie air defenses have only gotten much worse.  Still, the Ukies do have an ATC which at the very least should have reported that a civilian airline had a flight plan which would follow the points XYZ.  I just cannot imagine a Ukie officer giving the order to shoot at an aircraft without checking for the available flight plans.  Also, as far as I know, nobody ever reported that the transponder on the aircraft did not work and, if so, then that means that the Ukie air defense crew should have been receiving a clear signal identifying the aircraft.  Let me add here that you can purchase special receivers and antennas which can receive transponder signals and that they are comparatively cheap ($1000 range I think).  Lastly, but still an option, a Ukie air defense operator could have simply lifted the phone, called the ATC and asked who such and such aircraft was.  And even without that: when you see an aircraft flying right around 550 knots at 10,000m in a straight line in a civilian air traffic corridor, you can kinda guess that this is not a military aircraft on a bombing run.  So regardless of the state of disrepair of the Ukie air defense forces, there is just no way that they could have mistaken this airliner for a Russian military jet flying on a combat mission.  Oh, and did I mention MH17 was flying on  west to east course, not from Russia, but towards Russia?  Bottom line here for me is this: there is no way the Ukies could have shot down this aircraft by mistake.

The Novorussians now

Well, here again we truly have a dramatically different picture emerging.  First, the Novorussians have no ATC.  Second, 99% of their air defense systems are either MANPADs (man-portable air defenses) or heavy machine guns.  I did see footage of some kind of air defense radar and command post, but I suspect that this was simply a surveillance radar left by the Ukies.  No data fusion here, no integrated air defense network, no long-range missiles except for the few Buk M-1s they got as a trophy when they took control of a Ukie base a month or so ago.  In fact I am still unsure whether they really got any operable systems at all (the Ukies claim that their soldiers had disabled them, but that might not be true).  But we probably have to assume that they got their hands on a least one operational vehicle with its own surveillance radar, engagement radar and missiles.  As I mentioned earlier, modern states would integrate the Buk into a full air defense network, but since in war time this might not be possible, it is possible for the Buk to detect, acquire and engage a target all by itself.  Frankly, I find it very unlikely that the systems the Novorussians got their hands on would have been operational.  I find it even more unlikely that they would also have the people to operate them.  Still, just to cover our bases, we have to assume that with Russian aid these systems could have been more or less fixed, and that a crew could also have been sent from Russia.  Unlikely? Far fetched?  Yes.  But, alas, not impossible.

Still, there is the flight profile issue.  The real threat for Novorussians comes from close air support (low level) and from reconnaissance (medium level) aircraft.  Not those flying at 10,000 meters.  Also, a Boeing 777 is much larger than an An-26, Su-25, Su-24 or even an Su-27.  Also, ask yourself, IF you had such a capable and advanced air defense system as the Buk, would you waste it on a poorly identified target?  Probably not.  Still, I think that at least in theory the Nororussians could have shot down this aircraft.

Now let's look at the famous

Cui bono?

Well here at least the reply is unambiguous: only the junta in Kiev could have benefited from this tragedy.  For the Russians and the Novorussians, this is something between a real pain and a disaster.  Just when the Novorussians were winning without any overt help from Moscow and just when Moscow was gradually successful in denouncing the human costs of Poroshenko's murderous policies — suddenly the entire planet focuses just on one downed aircraft and the imperial corporate media blames it all on Russia.  As for Poroshenko, this disaster is a Godsend: not only has everybody forgotten that his much promised "surprise" turned out to be a disaster, he can now kill scores of Novorussians with no risk of that being reported in the corporate media.  Not only that, but it gives the Ukies a golden excuse to ask for "protection" from their "aggressive and threatening neighbor".   Again, the only party who can benefit from this disaster is the junta.  So, in summary, we have this list of candidates:

1) A deliberate or mistaken Russian attack: superlatively unlikely
2) A mistaken Ukrainian attack: most unlikely
3) A deliberate Ukrainian attack: most likely
4) A mistaken Novorussian attack: possible
5) A deliberate Novorussian attack: most unlikely

I don't know about you, but to me #3 is the one blinking red.

Now let's look at some of the "crazy" rumors which we have heard recently.

a) One or two Ukie military aircraft shadowing MH17 before it was shot down.
b) At least one parachute observed after MH17 was shot down.
c) An air-to-air attack.
d) An attempt at shooting down Putin's aircraft.

I don't know if any of these are true, but what I do notice is that all of them, if true, only 'fit' scenario #3: a deliberate Ukie attack.  Nobody claimed that MH17 was shadowed by Russian fighters, and the Novorussians don't have any anyway (they only have one Su-25).  If somebody was shot down (the parachutes) then it was most definitely not a Russian Air Force aircraft.  Ditto for an air-to-air attack.  As for shooting down Putin's aircraft, this seems far fetched to me, even for the crazy freak show in power in Kiev.  However, I would not put that kind of trick past Uncle Sam, who can always blame it on the Ukies.  What is sure is that the US wants Putin dead.  So maybe?

The current version of the Novorussians is an interesting one: they say that a Ukie Su-25 shot down MH17 and that they then shot down the Ukie Su-25.  Actually, this is not the most unlikely possibility.  Of course, this also means that if the Novorussians attempted to shoot down a Ukie Su-25 they might have missed and the missile might have continued towards the MH17 especially if its radar had gone active.  So a Novorussian mistake is still a "possible", at least in my mind.  If, and this is a big IF, this was a Novorussian mistake, I don't feel that we can blame them very much.  The one undeniable fact is that this disaster happened in Ukrainian ATC space and they, the Ukie ATC, had the primary responsibility to keep MH17 in a safe air corridor and not the Novorussians, who had neither the technical means nor the legal obligation to do so.  Also, just a few days ago the Ukies had announced that they were closing the airspace over the combat zone to an altitude of 9600m (if I remember correctly).  If the Novorussians heard this, they could have easily concluded that MH17 was a military recon flight flying towards Donestk from Dnepropetrovsk.  Besides, I am not at all sure that the radar on the Buk M1 can differentiate between 9,600m and 10,000m or, if it can, that the operator would have been aware of the difference this could mean.

Again, keep in mind my caveat above.  I am not, repeat, not a specialist in air defenses.  But I did do some air defense and monitoring work in my past, and on the basis of that experience and of what I have heard so far here is my best guess: At this point in time I am 90% in favor of the deliberate Ukie attack theory.  The remaining 10% I would give to the mistaken Novorussian attack version.  I am more than willing to change my mind if I get new facts.

Stuff we should look for

First, the black boxes.  Even when hit, most pilots have the time to say something and that something is usually recorded and radioed.  Depending on the frequency used, that "something" should have been heard by PLENTY of receivers, not only the Ukie ATC.  But at the very least, we should have the voice and data recorders from the last minutes of MH17.

Second, Russian radar tracks.  That is a problem.  The Russian military is one of the worst offenders in terms of secrecy and short of a direct order by Putin, they are likely to be most uncooperative.  Still, these guys probably have it all: ATC chatter, pilot messages, transponder signal, exact location of the missile(s) launched, point of impact, etc.  As I said, they most likely had a 20/20 vision of the air space over Donetsk.  The trick is to get them to share it, especially with the corporate media and the "independent" experts all already claiming that the Russians are tampering with the flight recorders.  Still, things are changing in Russia; possibly after the PR disaster following the Soviet shooting down of KAL 007 (which most definitely was on a US spy mission and was a deliberate provocation) they are more willing to share data.  A spokesman for the Russian Air Force has already disclosed that they had recorded the signals of a Ukie Buk M1 battery surveillance radar at the moment of the tragedy.  He even identified the exact Ukie unit involved.  Hopefully, as this scandal snowballs, the Kremlin will order the Russian Air Force to make more data public.  Not to convince Uncle Sam and his EU minions, of course, but at least to convince the rest of the planet.

Speaking of Uncle Sam and his EU minions.  They also know.  The US and NATO maintains a 24/7 surveillance of Ukie and Russian air space at least to the Urals, possibly even on the other side (though I am not sure).  I bet that Obama was told who had done it within two hours of the tragedy.  That info was probably shared with the Echelon countries, but not with the rest of NATO, but even they probably know thanks to their own intelligence capability (Banderastan is chock-full of EU spies not a single one of which was ever caught by the Ukie SBU since independence!).  So here again we have a 9/11 kind of situation: everybody knows, but nobody will admit it.

The last question then

There is an obvious last question which we need to ask: If the Ukies did it, could they have done it without the US knowing about it beforehand?  The answer, in case anybody had any doubts about this, is absolutely categorically and emphatically not.  No way José, not this regime, not one which is 110% dependent on, and submissive to, Uncle Sam.  In other words, if this was a deliberate Ukie attack, then this really was a deliberate US attack.  Not quite a "false flag", but a sneaky dirty trick, a longtime US specialty.  The typical US dirty trick works like this: it's organized and planned by Uncle Sam, paid for by the Saudis and executed by the Israelis.  At least that is the historical record for US dirty tricks.  That is also most likely how 9/11 was done.  Why bring in 9/11 several times at the risk of infuriating the doubleplusgoodthinking crowd yet again?  No, not just for the heck of it, but to remind everybody that the folks who killed 3000+ people on 9/11 would not hesitate for a nanosecond to kill "only" 300 or so, especially if the risk of getting caught is negligible, which in this case it is.  If in the case of 9/11 it is the entire Establishment which by stupidity or by cowardice was made an accomplice to the crime; in this case the folks who did it will have the support of a rabidly russophobic Establishment which will not care one bit about the truth as long as it allows it to further fan the flames of hatred of Russia.

A provisional conclusion of sorts — Lasciate ogni speranza (Abandon all hope ...)

This crime will never be properly investigated nor will the culprits ever be punished for it.  Oh sure, there will be plenty of books which will reveal it all in minute detail but, as Michael Parenti always reminds us, history is not only written by victors, it is also written by the elites, the oligarchs, the banking establishment, the 1%ers.  If anything, 9/11 has proven that our (Western) society is completely indifferent to facts and proof.  Our society is ruled by ideological dogma and political expediency.  In the case of MH17 the accepted dogma is that the Novorussians are the bad guys and the political expediency says that this latest crime cannot be blamed on the "heroic Euro-Ukrainian fighters" and even less on Uncle Sam.

Just as I wrote this last sentence above, I decided to check my  favorite Imperial Mouthpiece and, sure enough, I read this: "US President Barack Obama has said a surface-to-air missile fired from a rebel-held area in east Ukraine brought down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17."  See, it is that simple!  Who needs flight recorders or radar tracks anyway?!  If the US President said so, then it is so.  Any other interpretation is a criminal delusion bordering on terrorism.  Who needs proof when we've got both Poroshenko and Obama saying that the Russikies did it?

I am disgusted beyond words by both of these ugly, evil clowns.

Well, I hope that that some of you will have found the exercises above useful, regardless of all my caveats.  I wish my recollection of working with air defenses was better and I wish my knowledge was not 25 years old.  As always, this is the best I can do and I share it with you, my friends, in the hope of resisting the imperial propaganda machine as best I can.  If there are those amongst you who have a more recent and possibly more hands-on knowledge of these topics, I beg them to share that knowledge with the rest of us.

Kind regards and many thanks,

The Saker     

This article first appeared on The Vineyard of the Saker.
Republished with permission on Serendipity on July 19, 2014.


1. Immediately after the tragedy, the Ukrainian authorities, naturally, blamed it on the self-defense forces. What are these accusations based on?

2. Can Kiev explain in detail how it uses Buk missile launchers in the conflict zone? And why were these systems deployed there in the first place, seeing as the self-defense forces don’t have any planes?

3. Why are the Ukrainian authorities not doing anything to set up an international commission? When will such a commission begin its work?

4. Would the Ukrainian Armed Forces be willing to let international investigators see the inventory of their air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, including those used in SAM launchers?

5. Will the international commission have access to tracking data from reliable sources regarding the movements of Ukrainian warplanes on the day of the tragedy?

6. Why did Ukrainian air traffic controllers allow the plane to deviate from the regular route to the north, towards “the anti-terrorist operation zone”?

7. Why was airspace over the warzone not closed for civilian flights, especially since the area was not entirely covered by radar navigation systems?

8. How can official Kiev comment on reports in the social media, allegedly by a Spanish air traffic controller who works in Ukraine, that there were two Ukrainian military planes flying alongside the Boeing 777 over Ukrainian territory?

9. Why did Ukraine’s Security Service start working with the recordings of communications between Ukrainian air traffic controllers and the Boeing crew and with the data storage systems from Ukrainian radars without waiting for international investigators?

10. What lessons has Ukraine learned from a similar incident in 2001, when a Russian Tu-154 crashed into the Black Sea? Back then, the Ukrainian authorities denied any involvement on the part of Ukraine’s Armed Forces until irrefutable evidence proved official Kiev to be guilty.

From Malaysia MH17 crash: 10 questions Russia wants Ukraine to answer

On 2014-07-19 "Mr. Pragma" posted this comment to The Saker's article:
Again a very interesting article and very smart reasoning.

Let me add something — the big picture: 20 years ago the Americans feared nobody and felt confident to attack anyone save the USSR. 10 years ago they only dared to attack militarily insignificant and already badly weakened countries like Iraq. Some years later they did not even dare that much anymore but rather began to have others (like their EU/NATO vassals) do the fighting for them.

In brief, the USA has been deteriorating badly and is a very much weakened ex-superpower.

Moreover their classical and only way of fighting isn't working anymore. Their soldiers are worn out and (with solid reason) mistrustful of their government, the USA is all but officially bankrupt, and their "high-tech" weapons are but bla-bla.

Operation Ukraine is of strategic, even of vital importance, for the USA. Had it succeeded they might have had a chance to uproot Russia (using their 5th column traitors); now, however, that chance is gone and the USA is facing the very grave danger of not being any longer capable of hiding their demise and incompetence. Don't forget, the USA's power (well, what little is left) is not about real power, it's purely about an image of power.

The facts on the ground strongly suggest that the Ukraine was/is losing against Novorossija — which everyone would immediately understand as the USA having lost against Russia. This couldn't be allowed to happen, no matter what, no matter the cost.

Again, the USA is about image not about facts. The core problem is hence to avoid at any cost serious damage to the image of the USA being a superpower and being in control.

Another, closely related, problem is that there are only three parties who (theoretically) could fight the fight: (a) The USA; this is a no go because they would under no circumstances dare to directly confront Russia militarily. (b) The Europeans; this is merely theoretical as, in fact, an increasingly large group of EU countries is almost openly revolting against the USA's Operation Ukraine. Yes, they talk the bla-bla as commanded — but rest assured that they shy away from action; after all the USA is far away and the EU carries 99% of all risks and consequences. Two exceptions: The Baltic "states" but they are completely insignificant; and Poland; but whores aren't fighters and as the Sikorsky case has shown many of them smile while sharpening their knives behind their backs.  Well, and (c) USA's planned go-fors, the Ukrainian thug regime.

In other words, the USA is out of realistic options and very much in danger of having their "power" image broken. Consequently they (once more and lightheartedly) arranged for a situation (a "dirty trick", as the Saker said) at the cost of some hundred innocents.

Oh, and BTW: I do not believe the Ukrainians did it. (a) They are demonstrably completely incompetent and (b) the USA would not trust them in such a vital issue. I'm convinced the pilots were Americans and the missiles were fired by Americans too (probably mercenaries, to have scapegoats if needed).

But — as usual — Russia will turn out to be perfectly well prepared and suffocate the USA thugs with their own "medicine".

In brief, the Americans (using either a US or Ukrainian plane and a US or US-allied pilot) shot down MH17 in order to make the Russians and the Russian separatists look bad and (with the help of a shamelessly complicit MSM) pressure the Europeans to impose further economic sanctions on Russia, part of their plan to remove Russia as an obstacle to their desired global domination. But the plan won't work. The USA is fucked. And the Europeans too, if they don't wake up from their self-imposed stupidity.

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