Armed pro-Russian separatists stand at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014.A Boeing 777 Malaysia Airlines passenger plane from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine about 10:00 EDT.

"Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam," the Malaysia Airlines tweeted. "The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace."

There were reportedly 295 people on board (280 passengers and 15 crew) when it crashed in Torez, about 25 miles from the Russian border in the region of Donetsk. There were 23 Americans on the flight. There were no survivors.

"Locals say everything exploded in the air, fell in pieces, both bodies and plane itself," Journalist Noah Sneider tweeted from the area. "[People] thought they were being bombed."


An adviser to the Ukraine Interior Minister says pro-Russia separatists shot down the passenger plane with a Russian-made BUK ground-to-air missile system. The rebels have shot down multiple aircraft in the past month but deny involvement in the Malaysia Airlines incident.

Crucially, the separatists in the area reportedly commandeered a set of the BUK system as of last month.

Local residents in Donetsk told Business Insider that they saw a Buk missile system in the area. And Radio 24 (Pадио 24), a Ukrainian radio station, posted this tweet which shows a Buk missile system in Snezhnoye, Ukraine

The translation of the Ukrainian text reads: "Buk" terrorists were in Snezhnoye today.

Furthermore, The Interpreter reports the Ukrainian journalist Roman Bochkala and an AP journalist have seen separatists with the BUK system.

The region of Donetsk is a stronghold of pro-Russian rebels who are fighting the Ukrainian army. The separatists deny responsibility (via The Interpreter), but they did claim to shoot down a "Ukrainian transport plane" in the same area earlier today.

And Igor Strelkov, the Russian leader of the separatist "Lugansk People Republic" who is linked to Russian intelligence, claimed that rebels had shot down the "transport plane" in Torez — the same town that the Malaysia Airlines plane went down.

"In the region of Torez AN-26 plane has been shot," he wrote on Russia’s version of Facebook. "We have warned them – not to fly ‘in our sky.’"



On July 8, the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine closed the airspace to civilian aircraft after a military transport plane, which was flying at an altitude of over 20,000 feet, was shot down by rebels.

The Interpreter reports that the Ukrainian military has been claiming that separatists have advanced missiles for a week after the transport plane went down.

President Barack Obama is “aware” of reports of the plane crash, a White House official told Business Insider, and he has spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer tells Business Insider that the crisis in Ukraine will now escalate considerably.

Also earlier today, Ukraine claimed that a Russian jet shot down a Ukraine SU-25 fighter plane. For months, Ukrainian and U.S. officials have warned against civilian aircrafts flying over Ukrainian territory, especially near eastern Ukraine and the annexed peninsula of Crimea.

A Reuters correspondent on the scene sees burning wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines plane and bodies strewn on the ground.





Why Malaysia Airlines MH17 Was Probably Shot Down By A Rebel Missile – And Why This Means The Rebels Have Lost

Of course, it’s still too early to say definitively what happened but this is a personal blog, not a newspaper article or a government report, so I have the space to vent and express what I think rather than what I know. So, here goes. 

Although I wish it were otherwise, I feel the overwhelming odds are that MH17 was shot down by a Buk-M1 surface-to-surface missile fired by the rebels (but supplied by the Russians):

1.The rebels, notably generalissimo Strelkov actually claimed to have shot down a government An-24 in the general area of the MH17’s demise. The social media claims in question have been retrospectively deleted, but in this age nothing is truly lost. 

2.The rebels have shot down other government planes and indeed there is strategic merit to their denying their airspace to Kyiv’s forces, given that air power is one of the government’s real advantages. If they thought the MH17 was a government plane, then this might have seemed a great opportunity.

3. MH17 was flying too high for the man portable and light vehicle-mounted SAMs the rebels have openly deployed, but recently they admitted–and again these claims seem to have been retracted–to having at least one Buk-M1 SAM system, a tactical battlefield system that has the range to claw a civilian airliner out of the sky, and the warhead to do it with one hit.

4.The Buk is a radar-guided missile, so it could quite possibly have been launched without any eyeballing of the target. Furthermore, while the rebels may have the Buk’s radar targeting system, they lack the extensive radar network and, above all, the skilled operators who might have been able to tell a passenger airliner from a government troop plane.

5. The pattern of wreckage, the state of the corpses, suggests a catastrophic in-air impact and then rapid descent, not a crash from engine or system failure. Again, this speaks to a missile attack, and there do not seem to have been Russian or Ukrainian fighter jets in the air near there. So, again we’re back to a SAM.

Yes, I am excluding the more outré conspiracy theories, that MH17 was destroyed by government forces to demonize the rebels and likewise that it was shot down by an S-300 from Russia. This was, in my opinion, a tragic and murderous blunder rather than an intentional atrocity. This in no way excuses the attack–human lives are human lives, whether Ukrainian airmen or multinational civilians–but helps explain what’s going on.

Either way, I suspect that when the histories are written, this will be deemed the day the insurgency lost. Or at least began to lose. Especially given the presence of Americans and other Westerners on MH17, the Kremlin will, for all it’s immediate and instinctive bluster and spin, have to definitively and overtly withdraw from arming and protecting the rebels. This is especially considering the presumption that Moscow supplied the missiles in the first place. A single Russian report alleged that the rebels had captured a Buk from Ukrainian government stocks, but this was almost certainly preemptive disinformation as there is nothing else to support this claim. Besides which, while it is not that difficult to find crew for artillery, even tanks, the Buk does require well-trained crews, and ones trained relatively recently.

Meanwhile, Kyiv’s determination to defeat the rebels will not only be strengthened, it is likely to be blessed by the West. It’s not inconceivable that we will not only see Western MREs (meals, easy to eat) and body armor being deployed, but even Western leal weapons, trainers and even special forces.

Without Moscow’s support, the insurgency cannot last for that long. That is not to say that when it goes down, it will go down easy. If anything, the opposite is true as they may no longer have the option of finding sanctuary in Russia. Fighters with their backs to the wall are always dangerous.