The MH17 case shocked the world as it happened and caused an escalation of the war in Ukraine. Although many accusations have been leveled over responsibility for the tragedy, the panel investigating the incident continues to search for the identities of the perpetrators. However, all focus has centered around the culprits being either Ukrainian or Russian, both of whom did not have incentive to further aggravate the Ukrainian conflict.
An examination of the facts, the connections of various state and non-state actors pushing disinformation about MH17 along with knowledge about historical intelligence playbooks and foreign mercenary involvement in Ukraine would in fact suggest that the party responsible for shooting the aircraft down may have been a team with ties to transatlantic American groups allied with certain Western European interests.
I. Investigation Results
In 2014, the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) published its initial findings as part of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) seeking to determine who was at fault for the attack on MH17. These findings established that a BUK 9M38-series missile was fired at MH17 and that the missile was shot from somewhere inside east Ukraine in an area where control was contested by government and rebel forces. At the same time, BUK missile producer Almaz-Antey gave a press conference where they stated that based on the shape of the shrapnel particles which hit MH17, the missile prototype was last produced by the Soviet Union in 1986. Since the missiles have a life span of 25 years, they were decommissioned by the Russian Army in 2011.
In 2016, Stratfor released analysis of satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe that they claimed showed the missile launcher which fired the BUK at MH17. As Disobedient Media has previously reported, DigitalGlobe is an American vendor of satellite imagery founded by a scientist who worked on the US military’s Star Wars ICBM defense program under President Ronald Reagan. DigitalGlobe began its existence in Oakland, CA and was seeded with money from Silicon Valley sources and corporations in North America, Europe and Japan. Headquartered in Westminster CO, DigitalGlobe works extensively with defense and intelligence programs. In 2016, it was revealed that DigitalGlobe was working with CIA chipmaker NVIDIA and Amazon Web Services to create an AI-run satellite surveillance network known as Spacenet. Their photos have repeatedly been used in propaganda attempts to undermine negotiations between North Korea and the United States.
In May 2018, the JIT gave an update on their investigation where they “presumed” that the BUK missile which was used against MH17 came from the Russian 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile brigade. This presumption appears to be a rehash of claims made by “independent” investigative organization Bellingcat in 2014. Nonetheless, investigators left open the possibility that the missile had been fired by another party.
In September 2018, the Russian military gave a press conference where they said the missile that shot down MH17 came from a Ukrainian army arsenal. This belief was based on a study of military archives after the JIT had made the serial number of the missile public. The JIT responded that they would need Russia to submit information supporting their claims, despite the fact that Dutch investigators could have also reached out to Ukrainian authorities in an attempt to verify whether or not the serial number was in fact from a missile part transferred during the Soviet era.
II. Nation-State Narrative Pushing
In the aftermath of the JIT’s 2018 update, the governments of the Netherlands and Australia issued a statement blaming Russia for the incident. They were supported by Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who echoed a previous British intelligence report claiming without evidence that they also knew the Russian military “supplied and subsequently recovered” the missile launcher. This manner of nation-state propaganda has pervaded the investigation process since MH17 went down in 2014 and does not match the assertions of the JIT, who have consistently left open the possibility that a party other than Russia was responsible.
It is little surprise to see the Netherlands working in lockstep with the United Kingdom and Australia, who are both members of the UKUSA Agreement popularly known as Five Eyes (FVEY). The UK in particular has been shown to have been involved with operations alongside the Netherlands. Both the British and Dutch governments have been tied to Cheollima Civil Defense, who sought a coup in North Korea before they were targeted by American law enforcement. Integrity Initiative, an organization supported financially by UK intelligence and the Foreign Office, also maintained a Netherlands cluster. Members of this cluster include Yevhen Fedchenko, the Ukrainian co-founder and chief editor of stopfake.org and multiple members of The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS), an “independent” think tank that works with the Dutch Ministries of Security and Justice, Foreign Affairs and Defense as well as NATO. British intelligence assets have also been exposed among the staff of the Voice of Europe, a right wing publication located in the Netherlands.
Interestingly, Malaysia, whose aircraft was shot down, has said that there is no conclusive evidence showing that Russia was responsible for downing MH17. The US State Department additionally declined to issue a statement they had prepared in 2018 criticizing Russia’s alleged role in the event.
In criminal law, establishing intent to commit the crime in question is often an essential element to convicting a guilty party . In the case of MH17, neither Russia or Ukraine had an incentive to shoot down the airliner. The event dashed any immediate hopes of a “Novorussia” state or an early end to the Ukrainian war. It similarly created a disadvantage to Ukraine, who has lost thousands of their own citizens in the conflict due to its failure to conclude quickly. Neither country has a good cause to continue fighting for as long as they have. The MH17 tragedy ensured that both countries would remain mired in a struggle.
Both parties mutually denied involvement in the attack. Russia’s kneejerk reaction was to incorrectly claim a Ukrainian jet was responsible, likely because of accusations that air-to-air missiles had brought down Ukrainian military aircraft in recent days. The Russian information warfare strategy did not take into account that Western media and certain Ukrainian officials were already blaming a BUK launcher as the cause for the attack. This kind of confusion and failure to prepare narratives is a sign that Russian officials did not anticipate the incident beforehand.
Europeans and American factions who support initiatives such as the European Union and NATO do have such a cause. Confrontation between Ukraine and Russia serves not only as a distraction to Russia, but pushes Ukraine into the arms of Western interests.
IV. British Intelligence Propaganda Efforts
The pervasive involvement of British intelligence propaganda operations surrounding the MH17 incident further indicates that European and allied American groups are using the incident to stoke the Ukrainian conflict. British website Bellingcat was founded after the downing of MH17 and immediately began to focus on providing “evidence” they hoped would be of value to investigators. It would appear that their efforts have been met with success after the JIT appeared to lend credence to some of their claims that the BUK missile used against MH17 came from the Russian military.
Leaks from 2018 have established, however, that Bellingcat is a propaganda operation with ties to organizations funded by British intelligence. Documents from the Integrity Initiative list both Bellingcat and the Atlantic Council, a think tank known for engaging in pay-to-play behavior with foreign donors, as “partner organizations.”
Bellingcat author Dan Kaszeta, who was involved with narrative formation surrounding the Skripal assassination attempt, was forced to issue an unconvincing denial that he worked for British intelligence after it emerged that he also wrote for Integrity Initiative. Integrity Initiative’s now-censored website itself featured a page dedicated to combatting what they branded as “disinformation” surrounding MH17.
In addition to spreading propaganda in Europe, Bellingcat also runs operations targeting other locations as well. Canada-based Venezuelan anti-government blog In Venezuela is run by a Bellingcat member. The organization has also promoted Bana Alabed, a Syrian girl who supposedly worked with her English-speaking mother in Aleppo to send out perfectly worded tweets requesting NATO intervention in Syria during the siege of the city by government forces.
The pervasive involvement of the Integrity Initiative-connected Bellingcat in pushing pro-British propaganda into the MH17 investigation process provides a strong indication that official narratives about the tragedy are inaccurate.
V. Clues To Identity Of Perpetrators
If neither Ukrainian or Russian forces were responsible for the downing of MH17, who else could be?
Creating false attribution during military attacks is a very old tactic. The Gleiwitz incident at the start of World War Two and the Gulf of Tonkin are two historical examples of occasions where false attribution occurred for political purposes. In the 1960’s, the United States looked seriously at staging incidents of harassment or outright attacks against civilian airliners as part of Operation Northwoods. The attacks would be falsely attributed to the Cuban government by using procured MiG fighters or creating replicas that would fool observers. Internal documents from the CIA show a number of configurations that would withstand varying degrees of scrutiny were being considered.
Interestingly, the JIT used a US-made missile in tests meant to model the impact to MH17. BUK producer Almaz-Antey claimed that this meant the missile differed from their version in crucial features such as flight path.
There is also evidence that American mercenaries were on the ground in parts of eastern Ukraine that were held by rebel forces as fighting intensified in the months leading up to the MH17 crash. In March 2014, Bild am Sonntag cited German government sources who claimed that over 400 American mercenaries working for Academi affiliate Greystone were operating in Ukraine. The article was sparked by videos which had recently emerged online showing armed men said to be Americans on the streets on Donetsk, Ukraine. Academi issued a statement denying that any of their direct employees were in Ukraine but did not comment on the nature of their relationship to Greystone.
On May 4, 2014, Bild am Sonntag claimed that CIA and FBI agents were in Kiev to “advise” the Ukrainian government, citing unnamed German security sources. The next day, The Independent noted that locals in east Ukraine believed British or US forces might be active in the region after discovering items such as a British military jacket along with American rations and ammunition casings.
The evidence that Western mercenaries were present in Ukraine during the months leading up to the downing of MH17 should not be discounted and merits serious examination by investigators. Russian mercenaries have created headaches for their home nation in locations such as Syria due to potentially taking contracts for private clients while deployed in conflict zones. The involvement of Americans in Ukraine similarly raises questions about whether or not their services could have been exploited to aggravate an already contentious conflict that did not benefit either Ukraine or Russia.
Given the heavy involvement of British intelligence in narrative formation surrounding MH17 and clear attempts to induce the JIT to adopt the research of intelligence-connected investigative groups one must ask if the international panel investigating the case is missing the bigger picture by focusing on Ukraine and Russia alone. The evidence in fact points to a far different reality than the one presented by the international media. Will the JIT seek true justice? Or will they give the world easy and expected answers to their questions about MH17?