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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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July 17, 2014 - 11:39 am

The missile system suspected of being used in the suspected shootdown of MH17 over Ukraine is the Russian-made BUK surface-to-air system. Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine are suspected of firing the missile. Fox has reported that the rebels even bragged about the downing on the Russian version of Facebook, before deleting the post. In that post, the rebels wrote about shooting down a Ukrainian military cargo plane. Now they deny shooting it down.

The Interpreter lays out how the rebels may have gotten their hands on such a powerful missile system.

Several weapons, including the Buk, are capable of hitting aircraft at this height. But so far, none of those weapons have been documented as being in the hands of separatists. Not only had it never been filmed or photographer, there were never any reports of the Ukrainian military losing such a weapon.

However, on July 14th we ran a story that one news agency, TV Zvezda, had run a report that a Buk was captured by separatists who stole it from the Ukrainian military. The problem, however, is that TV Zvezda is the official news agency for the Russian Ministry of Defense, and they are the only source for this story. In other words, if the Russian military were going to give the separatists a Buk, they would need to plant a story about how the separatists got the Buk in the first place, and they’d likely use TV Zvezda to do it.

Today, AP reporters did see a Buk in eastern Ukraine — the first time one has been seen.

The timing makes sense. The Malaysian airliner is the third aircraft to crash in the region in the past couple of days. The first was a Ukrainian military cargo transport. The second was a fighter jet. Both of those were shot down by the pro-Russian rebels. The third would be MH17.

The tactic of handing the rebels such a system but using a cover story alleging that it was stolen makes sense as well, for the very reasons that we are seeing today. If the Russians directly gave those weapons to the rebels, and they turn and kill 23 Americans and more than 200 others either by mistake or intentionally, the Russians are directly linked to the murder of Americans and in civilian aviation. But a cover story gives them a fig leaf to hide behind, and an angle for the US to escape taking any retaliatory action if it so chooses. A cover story is practically standard KGB craft.

Longstanding American policy has been to defend the world’s seas and skies for free navigation and trade. That alone could cause a serious crisis over this crash/shootdown. But it may or may not be true of the Obama administration, of course, lack of clarity being its chief principle, with abandonment of longstanding American policy following closely behind. The US also once defended its own citizens first, but that principle no longer applies.

There is, at the moment, a dispute over how and when President Obama even learned of the crash. The Russians are saying that Putin told Obama of the crash during a phone call this morning to discuss a new round of sanctions against Russia. That would suggest a Russian openness that may not exist. The White House is not confirming that or saying how and when exactly Obama learned of the crash.

There also remains a question regarding why the plane crossed the Ukraine war zone. The US FAA ordered American carriers to avoid that region back in May. So did the British government.

The black boxes from the downed aircraft have reportedly been found.

Udpate:

The Donetsk Militia — that would be the pro-Russian rebels — say they have found the black boxes, and are sending them somewhere for “expert analysis.”

Anyone want to bet that those experts are in Moscow?

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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Top Rated Comments   
The SA-11 Gadly is not a simple "point and shoot" weapon system.

You don't just "hand it over" to rebels or militia.

It requires well-trained operators.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's one thing to hand the rebels the SA missile (or opps, letting them grab some), but they still have to have training in the weapon system.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (23)
All Comments   (23)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Gaining and holding a year-round ice-free Naval harbor has been part of Russian military doctrine for centuries. That means Sevastopol and the Crimea. Give it to them. It isn't worth fighting over and believe me they WILL fight for it.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
They can have it .... -after- the US Navy seeds the place silly with naval mines.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
We could always make sure they lose it after they fight for it. You think they are going to trade Moscow for it? Putin is a patriot, he's just not a patriot of a Russia the world should tolerate the existence of.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
More people were killed in this one "accident" then in the entirety of the ongoing operaton in Gaza. Will there be demonstrations in Europe against this? Undoubtedly not.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
The cover story makes no sense. You can't just steal a sophisticated SAM system (which is not just a rocket - it's a radar system & a rocket launch system) that requries training and experience to operate successfully. Even if it were true (highly unlikely - not least because of the obvious Russian military involvement in the so-called "militia") it wouldn't matter. The only reason the "separatists" are fighting is because the Russians armed and directed them.

22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
re: "The Malaysian airliner is the third aircraft to crash in the region in the past couple of days. The first was a Ukrainian military cargo transport. The second was a fighter jet. Both of those were shot down by the pro-Russian rebels. The third would be MH17."

Where those aircraft shot down at 35,000 feet? I highly doubt it. If the Russian foreign legion (a.k.a. separatists) "stole" the missile, did they steal the missile system, tracking system, logistics support infrastructure, practice and years of training along with it? Seriously?

Personally, my guess is that it was an air-to-air missile fired by a Russian fighter, intentionally or erroneously. It's much more likely than a ground based interceptor missile fired at a target 7 miles high by minimally trained rebel forces. I'm honestly not even certain that the Ukrainian regular military would be competent enough to fire that ground based missile (i.e. in their current degraded state). This missile shot wasn't a MANPAN, and wasn't sophisticated high altitude, MACH 3+ missile defense system, either.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
It could be the SAM battery, doesn't have to be AAM ... either way, it's Russian military all the way. They likely screwed up big time, rather than a deliberate shoot-down of a commercial airliner ... and are now scrambling to avoid the repercussions. They cannot weasel their way out of this. The only advantage the Russians have now is the fecklessness of Obama and NATO who want to have a war with Russia about as bad as Obama wants to hug Republicans in Congress.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
The aircraft was reportedly cruising at 10,000 M, or just under 33,000 ft, obviously lacking any missile warnings, taking no evasive actions, and no chaff or other countermeasures. The Buk system is reported to be capable of shootdowns up to 72,000 ft. Easy shootdown - like fish in a barrell.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
According to Wikipedia, the Buk-1 has a basic capability of downing aircraft at up to 25 Km altitude.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
The SA-11 Gadly is not a simple "point and shoot" weapon system.

You don't just "hand it over" to rebels or militia.

It requires well-trained operators.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Gadfly", not "Gadly".
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
"There also remains a question regarding why the plane crossed the Ukraine war zone."

Well, this IS Malaysian Airlines....

22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama has, very publically, been very accommodating to the Russians for the past few years—maybe in the future we will learn that this has been going on for a much longer time. It wouldn’t surprise anyone that doesn’t have their head in the sand about 0 that he once again goes very easy on Vlad and the gang. The set-up of the cover story about the shoot down fits this narrative. In any case there will be a lot of pressure on 0 to do something that actually hurts Russia this time. This entails the possibility that we might soon find out if Vlad really has the dirty little secrets of our Manchurian's murky past. It’s still possible, though, that he might want to hold on to them until something really important comes along; like maybe an airliner shoot down that can be linked to him and his military?
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's just KAL007 over land. Obfucation and misdirection by the Russians and their seperatists lackeys.
Oh, goody - Uncle Joe Biden is going to speak to the nation. Apparently the Sun King is busy.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
And apparently the bad guys in Iraq have captured a bunch of howitzers. I think this would be a good point to declare that world is in a global conflict.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's not a global conflict, it's a shithole conflict.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Apparently sir, you labor under the delusion most of the world is not a shithole...
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's one thing to hand the rebels the SA missile (or opps, letting them grab some), but they still have to have training in the weapon system.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not much, these are Russian systems after all. And I rather doubt that they meant to hit an airliner.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
I rather doubt that they meant to hit an airliner. --- Why ?

What better way to reemphasize US impotence ?
Putin calls Obama and says (in effect); I just shot down
a civilian airliner with 23 US citizens aboard; What are
you going to do about it, punk ?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Russians have developed the some of the most sophisticated Integrated Air Defense Systems (IADS) in the world.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
But they're still designed to be operated by a half-drunk illiterate Russian peasant.

It's one of the reasons they're so popular on the international market.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
And they're selling them to people like the Iranian Republican Guard.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
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