Bellingcat narrows list of possible MH17 culprits from Russian 53rd Brigade to 20 servicemen

MH17

A fragment of Bellingcat's report. Source: nos.nl 

2016/01/04 • War in the Donbas

The investigative journalism team Bellingcat has narrowed the list of those involved in the downing of flight MH17, the Malaysian airliner that was shot down above East Ukraine on 17 July 2014 to 20 Russian servicemen.

Bellingcat submitted their new report submitted to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service two weeks ago, according to the Dutch outlet NOS, and will be made available to the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which is conducting the  criminal investigation about the MH17 catastrophe.

According to NOS, all names and other data through the JIT will “be seriously considered, examined and assessed on their suitability for the criminal investigation,” as said by the spokesperson of the prosecutor.

Bellingcat names the 53d brigade from Kursk as those responsible for delivering the Buk missile launcher to Ukraine in their report released on 8 October 2015. You can also see the path of the Buk in their interactive StoryMap presentation. Now, Bellingcat narrows the list of servicemen directly involved in the downing to 20 soldiers.

One of them is Sergey M., the brigade’s commander. Other stakeholders are Dmitry T., the commander of the Second Battalion, and nine lieutenants who were in charge of the Buk-air defense missile systems within the battalion in 2014, as well as experienced soldiers that had been trained to operate a Buk. 

Eliot Higgins, bellingcat founder, did the research together with eleven volunteers from many countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, and the United States, by scouring social networks for signs of the brigade’s activity.

The 123-page long report, which has taken over a year of investigation, contains details  which Bellingcat believes are too sensitive to make public during the police investigation, however, a shorter version of the report will be made available.

Previously, JIT used Bellingcat’s investigation of the trailer in which the Buk missile launcher was captured in their online call to search for witnesses of its trasportation in a Russian-language video with English subtitles.

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  • canuke

    Just waiting for the troll army to go in overdrive!

  • Dean Venture

    Bellingcat does some great work. It’s amazing just how bad Russian opsec is, or perhaps how little they seem to care.

  • Dirk Smith

    They forgot to mention one other responsible, which is Vladimir Putin. This alone should justify deeper sanctions and lethal aid to Ukraine.

    • Oknemfrod

      This list concerns only the low-level chain of command who followed the order. Those who gave it, with Putin and Shoigu at the top, are segregated into a separate chapter. Methinks the most important takeaway from the Bellingcat investigation is that the heinous act was committed by regular Russian military personnel as a result of a pre-planned operation from a territory of a sovereign neighboring country – exactly what the Kremlin adamantly denies by lying through their teeth. The report completely dispels both the asinine narrative (1) that it was done by the Ukrainian armed forces and (2) that it was done by accident by a bunch of poorly trained “rebels”.

  • Michel Cloarec

    Soon we will know officially what we have known all the time !

  • Brent

    I’ll bet Putin hates Bellingcat as much as I admire them!!!

    It’s amazing what independent investigators can accomplish when “politics” and wanting to give Putin an “offramp” or “a way to save face” will accomplish. The U.S. should be embarrassed these independent investigators with limited funds have done a much better job of seeking and exposing the truth than the U.S. with its billions have done.