Serial numbers of missile that downed MH17 show it was produced in 1986, owned by Ukraine - Russia

The serial numbers found on debris of the Buk missile which downed Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine show it was produced in 1986, the Russian military said. The projectile was owned by Ukraine, they added.

There are two serial numbers found on fragments of the missile, which shot down the passenger airliner in June 2014 according to an international team of investigators led by the Netherlands. The numbers were marked on the engine and the nozzle of the missile.

The Russian military on Monday said they had traced them to a missile which had the producer serial number 8868720.

Speaking to journalists, Gen. Nikolay Parshin showed a document trail of the Buk missile. According to the documents, some of which have been declassified for the presentation, it was produced at a military plant in Dolgoprudny in the Moscow region in 1986.

The missile was shipped from the plant on December 29, 1986 and delivered to military unit 20152 located in what is now Ukraine. It is now called 223rd anti-aircraft defense regiment of the Ukrainian armed forces, the report said. The unit took part in Kiev's crackdown on rebels in eastern Ukraine in June 2014, the general said.

The evidence disproves the accusations by Ukraine and some other parties, which claim that a missile fired by a launcher, secretly delivered from Russia, was responsible for the downing of MH17, the Ministry of Defense report said. All the materials have been sent to the Dutch investigators, the Russian military added.

The Russian military also challenges video footage used by the UK-based group Bellingcat, which calls itself a citizen journalism organization, to back its allegations about the delivery of the Buk launcher from Russia. The Defense Ministry showed a video clip with some of the footage, highlighting inconsistencies, which it said proved that the footage had been manipulated to place images of the launcher into background which were not in the original.

The Bellingcat investigation was featured in the latest update by Dutch prosecutors involved in the MH17 investigation, prompting the Russian military to study it in detail, they said. The Russian video showed an example of how an Abrams tank can be shown to be carried by a trailer in the streets of Ukraine in the same way.

The third part of the presentation was what the Russian officials called a record of intercepted communications of Ukrainian officials discussing, in 2016, the risk of flying through restricted airspace over Ukraine. Among a barrage of complaints one phrase says unless the restrictions are respected "we'll f***ing f**k up another Malaysian Boeing".

The Russian military say the complaints came from Col. Ruslan Grinchak, who serves in a brigade responsible for radar control of the Ukrainian airspace. His unit tracked the MH17 flight in 2014, so he may have information which is not publicly available about the disaster.

Gen. Igor Konashenkov, who hosted the briefing, said that Ukraine failed to provide radar data from its stations to the Dutch investigators. He also suggested that archive documents from the Ukrainian unit, which received the Buk missile back in 1986, would be of use to the probe, unless Kiev claims that they are no longer available. He stressed rules are in place which mean that such documents should still be stored in Ukraine.

 

A site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash

The Russian military said they had no evidence to disprove a scenario, involving the Ukrainian rebels capturing the missile from the Ukrainian army, but pointed out that Ukrainian officials publicly denied anything like this had ever happened.

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, falling in the rebel-held part of the country. The crash claimed the lives of 283 passengers and 15 crew members, most of them Dutch nationals. Russia was blamed by Western media in the first days after the tragedy, even before any evidence had been collected on the ground.

The Joint Investigation Team, which is lead by the Netherlands, includes Ukraine, but not Russia. Moscow believes that the investigation is biased, failing to obtain all necessary evidence from Ukraine and relying on questionable sources while ignoring evidence provided by Russia, which doesn't fit the theory favored by Kiev.

  • Published in World

Ukranian businessman with links to Donald Trump and Russia dies in unexplained circumstances

Alex Oronov, who had family ties to President's lawyer, reportedly organised meeting aimed at helping give Russian President control of Crimea.

A Ukranian-born millionaire businessman with links to Donald Trump has reportedly died in unexplained circumstances.

Alex Oronov, a 69-year-old naturalised American citizen who ran an agricultural business in his native Ukraine, died on 2 March, according to a Facebook post by Ukranian politician Andrii Artemenko.

Mr Oronov is reported to have set up a secret meeting between Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen – to whom he had family ties - and Russian officials where a “peace plan” is said to have been hatched to give Russian President Vladimir Putin control of the Crimea. 

  • Read more Kissinger 'advises Donald Trump to accept' Crimea as part of Russia

Mr Cohen is understood to have an extensive network of personal and business relationships in the Ukranian-American community – and his associates included Mr Oronov, a partner in the ethanol business the lawyer’s brother, Bryan, set up in Ukraine.

The “peace plan” meeting brought together Mr Artemenko, Mr Cohen and Felix Sater, an American-Russian long-time business associate of Mr Trump who is reported to have ties to the Russian mafia.

Details of this meeting are believed to have ended up on the desk of Michael Flynn, Mr Trump’s former security adviser who was forced to resign last month over his alleged secret dealings with Russian officials.

The New York Times – which Mr Trump has repeatedly accused of producing “fake news” - reported the meeting between Mr Artemenko, Mr Cohen and Mr Slater.

In his lengthy Facebook post, Mr Artemenko describes himself as a pawn in a diplomatic game and said the stress created by the article and the negative attention that followed the article was too much for Mr Oronov.

The post, written in Russian, translates loosely: “Yes, I’m guilty... Alex Oronov, my partner, my friend, my mentor, Alex was a family member of Michael Cohen. And he organised all kinds of stuff, including an introduction and a meeting for me with Michael Cohen.”

It adds: “Unfortunately, his heart could not endure it. He died... Friend, your death will not have been in vain, nor will the deaths of tens of thousands of Ukranians and Russians, Alex Oronov, during this wild, undeclared war! Rest in peace and forgive me if you can, as difficult as that may be!”

The Ukrainian MP points the finger of blame at “overexertion, the nerves, from injustice, from suspicion, from sorrow of misunderstanding”.

The remembrance website legacy.com has a listing for Alex Oronov of New York, with dates that match those of the businessman.

One friend and business associate has so far left a tribute on the site, which reads: “Alex had a huge heart and he did a lot for those who were part of his family and part of his company.”

Conspiracy theorists have pointed to a number of recent deaths of Russian diplomats in the past four months.

Russia’s permanent ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, died last month in New York after suddenly becoming ill on his way to work the day before his 65th birthday.

It was initially reported he had suffered a heart attack but an autopsy proved inconclusive.

The Russian Consul in Athens, Andrei Malanin, 55, was found dead on the floor of his apartment in Greece in January. Greek police said there was no evidence of a break-in and he was believed to have died of natural causes.

Russia’s Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, 67, was reported to have died of heart failure in January after a “brief illness” according to Indian media.

Russian diplomat Sergei Krivov, 63, was found unconscious having suffered severe head injuries at the Russian consulate in New York on US election day.

According to BuzzFeed, Mr Krivov was initially said to have fallen to his death following a suspected heart attack, but a subsequent report from medical examiners was inconclusive.

Mr Krivov is believed to have been responsible for the security of the consul from American intelligence, although he was initially said to have been “a security guard”.

The Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was assassinated in Ankara by a policeman at a photography exhibition on 19 December and another diplomat, Peter Polshikov, was shot dead in his Moscow apartment on the same day.

Former KGB chief Oleg Erovinkin, who was suspected of helping British spy Christopher Steele draft a dossier on Donald Trump, was found dead in the back of his car last Boxing Day.  

Mr Erovinkin was also an aide to former deputy prime minister Igor Sechin, who now heads up state-owned oil company Rosneft and is said to have been named in the dossier.

His death was initially reported as a suspected murder – but officials later claimed he had died of a heart attack.

  • Published in World

US experts confirm Russians played prank on NATO chief Stoltenberg – report

Russian pranksters who called Jens Stoltenberg in early February, one of them introducing himself as Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, did indeed reach the NATO Secretary General, Life.ru reported, citing US experts.

After Life.ru initially published the conversation, NATO accused them of disinformation, the Russian tabloid says. It then decided to contact an American investigative agency to prove the authenticity of the recording.

Life.ru gave VIP Protective Services Inc., a company that employs former agents from FBI, CIA and a number of European agencies, their recordings that featured a conversation between the pranksters and, allegedly, NATO chief Stoltenberg.

The phone talk in question happened earlier this month, when prankster Lexus, who works in tandem with another man known as Vovan, introduced himself as Poroshenko and asked the supposed Jens Stoltenberg whether Ukraine could become a NATO member within the next two years, “as advised by American partners.”

 
© Carlos Barria

The prankster posing as the Ukrainian leader was then told that there might have been “a misunderstanding,” as to be “able to meet the standards which are required for a NATO membership,” Kiev officials “have to do more” and “focus on reform.”

READ MORE: Ukrainian pilot relaxes dry hunger strike after pranksters send fake Poroshenko letter

The person who the prankster spoke to was indeed Stoltenberg, the US agency concluded, according to Life.ru. Having analyzed the files they received for voice identification comparison, “one known and one unknown speaker are the same speaker,” it said.

A number of features including pitch, mannerisms and even breath patterns have been used for the voice identification analysis, it added, saying that “the most precise approach” has been taken to identify if the person making comments on Ukraine's NATO membership is Stoltenberg.

Earlier, a Russian expert came to the same conclusion, Life.ru reported.

The pranksters gained popularity in Russia after they managed to speak over the phone with a number of high ranking officials and celebrities. Lexus and Vovan once made Elton John believe he had spoken to President Vladimir Putin about gay rights – which later led to a Kremlin promise to meet with the British pop icon for real.

  • Published in World

Russia Condemns Ukrainian Blockade of Resolution to Honor Churkin

Moscow, Feb 21 (Prensa Latina) Russia condemned today Ukraine''s decision to block a UN Security Council resolution devoted to honor the country''s late ambassador to the international body, Vitali Churkin.

That is the current Ukrainian government: nothing good can work, it can only hurt, including himself, said the spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zajarova, in his Facebook account.

For the Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov, the significance of the figure of Churkin and the fact of his death outweigh the decision of Ukraine, which this month chairs the Security Council.

In April of 2006, Ambassador Churkin, who turned 65 this day, assumed the leadership of the Russian representation before the United Nations.

On Monday, on hearing about the diplomat's death in his office in the Russian office at the UN, Zajarova stressed that even officials from countries with large differences with Moscow respected him.

During Churkin's stay at the UN, the United States and some Western powers assaulted Libya in March 2011, financed the terrorist war since that date in Syria and supported the coup in Ukraine in February 2014.

  • Published in World

Ukraine plans NATO referendum… but alliance reportedly shuns missile shield talks with Kiev

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko says he intends to hold a referendum on NATO membership, while the alliance is said to have shelved planned talks on Ukraine’s missile defense over fears these could worsen relations with Russia.

“Four years ago, just 16 percent [of Ukrainians] advocated NATO membership for Ukraine. Now it is 54 percent,” Poroshenko said in an interview with German newspaper Berliner Morgenpost, on Thursday.

“As president, I will act in accordance with the opinion of my people – and will hold a popular vote on the issue of NATO membership. And if Ukrainians vote for it, I will do everything to secure our membership in the alliance,” Poroshenko said, adding that in his opinion the alliance “is indispensable” and “the only functioning organization of collective security” in the world to date.

Meanwhile, NATO itself might not be so keen on strengthening ties with Ukraine. According to a new  by the Wall Street Journal, the alliance has recently postponed a planned meeting with Ukrainian officials regarding , allegedly to avoid provoking Russia.

“There is some political sensitivity in the engagement of Ukraine because obviously that could fuel an overreaction by the Russians,” an unnamed NATO diplomat told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

NATO was considering meeting with Ukraine – as it has done in the past with Japan and European partners – to discuss the possibility of debris or an errant interceptor falling on the country’s territory, were the alliance to use its missile defense system stationed in nearby Romania.

According to NATO officials, the bloc intends to use the system only to defend the allied nations and does not plan to intercept missiles headed to Ukraine. The NATO diplomat cited by the Wall Street Journal said the decision to put off talks does not preclude future discussions on the issue with Ukraine, although the bloc intends to move cautiously to avoid irking Russia. 

NATO’s missile defense system in Romania consists of a radar and a number of interceptors on land and at sea. It came under NATO full control last year, with officials repeatedly stressing that the system is solely designed for defense, mostly to intercept any ballistic missiles potentially fired from Iran.

However, Moscow has viewed statements of this kind with suspicion, urging NATO to agree on limits to its missile shield, which set up dangerously close to Russia’s borders.

According to the WSJ, officials familiar with internal NATO discussions claimed that as relations with Moscow were already tense, the move to discuss missile defense with Ukraine – Russia’s immediate neighbor – could be misunderstood.


Reports contradicting the WSJ’s claims have also emerged.

We did not cancel any negotiations with any country whatsoever,” an anonymous alliance official told RIA Novosti.

We will continue to exchange information, consult and cooperate with our neighbors and partners, as and when necessary, doing it gradually and in stages.”

According to the official, “with regard to NATO missile defense, [we] recognize and respect the interests of other countries. […] In recent years we have been discussing missile defense with our partners, and we continue to work with them on this issue.”

Apart from NATO broadening its missile defense, the alliance and Russia have been increasingly at odds over the bloc’s general military buildup in Europe. In the latest move, US troops and heavy weapons began arriving last month in Europe as part of ‘Operation Atlantic Resolve’, a mission designed to curtail a perceived ‘Russian threat’ to Europe. Eighty-seven US battle tanks, 144 Bradley fighting vehicles, and 3,500 soldiers arrived near Russia’s borders as part of the buildup agreed upon at the alliance’s summit in Warsaw last July. NATO has also been holding military drills ever closer to Russian territory, most recently in Poland and Lithuania.

This policy towards Moscow, repeatedly slammed by Russia as a threat to the country’s national security, has been growing in scale since Crimea voted to split from Ukraine and rejoin Russia in a referendum in the wake of the Ukrainian coup in 2014. NATO supported Ukraine's coup-instated government over the issue, and still considers the Crimea transition an annexation. Furthermore, NATO and EU countries also imposed an array of economic sanctions on Russia’s banking, energy and defense sectors, to punish Moscow for the Crimea transition and its alleged, but never proven, support of the anti-government rebels in east Ukraine. These were recently extended for another six months, despite negative reactions from Italy and France. 

In his interview with Berliner Morgenpost, Ukraine’s President Poroshenko urged for sanctions to remain in place, as they are allegedly the only thing keeping “Russian aggression” at bay.

Do you know who wants the lifting of the sanctions most? President Poroshenko. But before that, Russia must withdraw all its troops from our territory so that Ukraine can restore its territorial integrity and sovereignty. A premature loosening of the sanctions would strengthen the Russian aggression against Ukraine – putting Europe at risk. Who knows where Putin would next want to help a Russian minority? In the Baltics? In Bulgaria? Or maybe in Germany?

@RT_com Anti-Russian sanctions cost Western countries over $60bn - research http://on.rt.com/7hry


Photo published for Anti-Russian sanctions cost Western countries over $60bn - research — RT Business

Anti-Russian sanctions cost Western countries over $60bn - research — RT Business

Countries that backed sanctions against Russia have suffered significant export losses with products targeted by the Russian embargo accounting for only a small fraction of the loss, according to the...rt.com

“The sanctions work. Russia pays a high price for its aggression. The standard of living has fallen considerably, the Russian currency is losing its value. It is the sanctions that will keep Putin at the negotiating table and will force him to fully implement the Minsk Accords,” Poroshenko said. 

Recent studies show however that sanctions against Russia have backfired, affecting instead the countries that supported them. In addition, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the rift created by anti-Russian sanctions has severely affected cooperation in battling other crucial crises, including international terrorism – “driv[ing] apart states” and preventing international partners “from joining forces in combating a common evil.

  • Published in World

Int’l investigators allowed Ukraine to fabricate MH17 evidence – Russia

The Russian Foreign Ministry has said that investigators probing the MH17 crash allowed Ukraine to fabricate evidence, turning the case to its advantage, while denying Moscow any comprehensive role in the inquiry.

“Russia suggested working together from the start and relying on the facts only,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a statement for the media on Wednesday, commenting on the findings in the criminal probe into the MH17 crash by a Dutch-led team of international investigators.

“Instead of [working together], international investigators suspended Moscow from comprehensive participation in the investigative process, allowing our efforts only a minor role. It sounds like a bad joke, but at the same time they made Ukraine a full member of the JIT [Joint Investigation Team], giving it the opportunity to forge evidence and turn the case to its advantage,” Zakharova added.

The spokesperson also noted that the JIT bases its findings on evidence provided by Ukrainian power structures, which are “undoubtedly a party with a vested interest.”

“To this day, the investigators continue to ignore the overwhelming evidence provided by the Russian side, despite the fact that Russia is the only side that submits accurate information and constantly discloses new data,” Zakharova said.

“Russia is disappointed that the situation surrounding the investigation into the Boeing crash is not changing. The findings of the Dutch prosecutor's office confirm that the investigation is biased and politically motivated.

"To arbitrarily designate a guilty party and dream up the desired results has become the norm for our Western colleagues," the spokesperson said.

  • Published in World

Obama, Putin meet on G20 sidelines over Syria, Ukraine

HANGZHOU, China, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, discussed the Syria and Ukraine issues at a meeting here Monday on the sidelines of the 11th Group of 20 summit.

The meeting, which lasted more than an hour, was "longer than planned, "Russian media quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

The two leaders discussed Syria and Ukraine before moving on to a one-on-one talk, Peskov said, noting that the meeting went well.

Putin said at a press conference after the meeting that he and Obama had "some alignment" of positions and an understanding of what they could do to de-escalate the situation in Syria.

It can be said that Russia-U.S. efforts in fighting terrorist organizations, including those in Syria, would be significantly improved and intensified, he added.

Both countries are interested in fighting terrorism, Putin said, adding that "the U.S. president is absolutely sincere in striving for a resolution of the Syrian conflict."

Meanwhile, Obama called the meeting "constructive" but not "conclusive."

"Typically the tones of our meetings are candid, blunt, business-like and this one was no different," he said at a separate press conference following the meeting.

However, he said that given the gaps of trust that exist, that's a tough negotiation.

"We haven't yet closed the gaps in a way where we think it would actually work," Obama said.

Earlier Monday, a senior Obama administration official was quoted as saying that the two presidents failed to force a breakthrough in negotiations over a cease-fire in Syria, but have agreed to keep up negotiations.

The two leaders directed their top diplomats to return to talks quickly, likely later this week, the official said.

The United States and Russia have been trying to reach a deal over the Syria crisis. Obama said Sunday that the two sides still have "grave differences," but there is still possibility "to make some progress."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who met in this eastern Chinese city on Sunday for Syria talks, launched a fresh round of negotiations on Monday morning, but ended without agreement, U.S. media reported.

  • Published in World

‘Threat of 2nd Chernobyl’: Kiev’s new nuclear project puts Europe at risk, Greens warn

The construction of a spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Ukraine poses “significant safety risks for the whole of Europe” because of numerous rule and standards violations, Ukrainian environmentalists warn.

The Ukrainian Greens Association, a non-profit environmentalist organization, listed the risks in a statement released on Monday.

“We are deeply concerned about plans to build a spent nuclear fuel storage in the upper reaches of the Dnepr River close to densely populated places,” the statement said, citing a speech made by the association’s spokeswoman, Anna Rak, at the first Nuclear Energy Policy Forum in Brussels on June 30.

Rak also emphasized that the government plans “to secretly fast-track the construction of a surface dry, spent nuclear fuel storage system… close to the Dnepr river,” ignoring basic safety standards and “creating the threat of a second Chernobyl.”

Ukraine’s Greens stressed that the decision to build the facility just 70 kilometers away from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone, was taken “without a proper environmental impact assessment and public consultation with the [local] residents.”

 
They also warned that the contractor for the project, Holtec International, actually lacks sufficient experience while the technology it plans to use in construction has never been tested or tried in any other country.

The association added that the procedure of choosing the contractor was “neither transparent nor open,” warning that Ukraine may once again become a subject to “unpredictable and dangerous nuclear experiments,” apparently referring to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The organization demanded that Ukrainian authorities “ensure that the project complies with all international rules and standards before the construction is launched” and emphasized that the residents of the Kiev region have “an unconditional right” to get all relevant information about the project and to take part in the discussion concerning its construction.

The Ukrainian Greens Association also urged the European Commission, the European Parliament and international environmental bodies to carry out an “independent environmental assessment of the project.”

The warning for the Ukrainian Greens came just as the Ukrainian Energy Minister Igor Nasalik confirmed that the government secured a $260 million loan to finance the construction project.

The move also comes amid mounting concerns about the future of the European nuclear energy sector as over about 45 percent of current nuclear plants are expected to go offline in the next 10 years.

As Europe is sluggish with its large-scale projects, further slowed down by engineering, construction and financial woes, two meetings in Paris and Brussels were organized in June by the New Nuclear Watch Europe (NNWE) advocacy group to discuss he hottest issues impeding progress in the nuclear sector – costs and hazards.

All participants agreed on the necessity to develop a common continental standard on spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management, with the case of Ukraine in particular appearing to emphasize this necessity.

Paris also held the World Nuclear Exhibition (WNE), where leading energy companies discussed the matter, shortly before the NNWE meetings were held.

  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed