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Germans Clear Russia in MH-17 Case
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Sid Shniad
2014-10-23 22:26:19 UTC
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* http://consortiumnews.com/2014/10/20/germans-clear-russia-in-mh-17-case/
<http://consortiumnews.com/2014/10/20/germans-clear-russia-in-mh-17-case/>
Consortium News October 20, 2014Germans Clear Russia in MH-17 Case
For months, Western governments and media have accused Russia of supplying
the anti-aircraft missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
killing 298 people. But now German intelligence has reportedly
determined the missile came from a Ukrainian military base, **not from the
Russian government. If the missile responsible for bringing down MH-17 did
come from a Ukrainian military base, a very potent anti-Putin propaganda
theme would be neutralized.*

*By Robert Parry*

The West’s case blaming Russia for the shoot-down of a Malaysia Airlines
plane over Ukraine last July appears to be crumbling as the German foreign
intelligence agency has concluded that the anti-aircraft missile battery
involved came from a Ukrainian military base, according to a report
<http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/german-intelligence-blames-pro-russian-separatists-for-mh17-downing-a-997972.html>
by the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.

The Obama administration and other Western governments have pointed the
finger of blame at Russia for supposedly supplying a sophisticated BUK
missile system to ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine who then
allegedly used the weapon on July 17 to shoot down what they thought was a
Ukrainian military plane but turned out to be Malaysia Airlines Flight 17,
killing all 298 people onboard.

The Russians denied providing the rebels with the weapon and the rebels
denied shooting down the plane. But the tragedy gave the U.S. State
Department the emotional leverage to get the European Union to impose
tougher economic sanctions on Russia, touching off a trade war that has
edged Europe toward a new recession.

But now the narrative has shifted. The German intelligence agency, the
Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND, asserted that while it believes rebels were
responsible for shooting down the plane, they supposedly did so with an
anti-aircraft battery captured from a Ukrainian military base, according to
Der Spiegel.

The BND also concluded that photos supplied by the Ukrainian government
about the MH-17 tragedy “have been manipulated,” Der Spiegel reported. And,
the BND disputed Russian government claims that a Ukrainian fighter jet had
been flying close to MH-17 just before it crashed, the magazine said.

None of the BND’s evidence to support its conclusions has been made public
— and I was subsequently told by a European official that the evidence was
not as conclusive as the magazine article depicted.

Der Spiegel said the information given to members of a parliamentary
committee on Oct. 8 included satellite images and other photography. What’s
less clear, however, is how the BND could determine the precise
command-and-control of the anti-aircraft missile system amid the chaotic
military situation that existed in eastern Ukraine last July.

At the time, the Ukrainian army and allied militias were mounting an
offensive against ethnic Russian rebels who were resisting a U.S.-backed
coup regime that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February,
touching off what quickly became a nasty civil war.

Spearheading Kiev’s summer offensive were pro-government militias, some of
which were filled with neo-Nazi extremists and financed by Ukrainian
billionaire oligarchs including Ihor Kolomoisky, who had been appointed
governor of the southeastern Dnipropetrovsk Region. The ethnic Russian
rebels also were a disorganized lot with poor command and control.

*Rushing to Anti-Russian Judgment*

Yet, the Obama administration was quick to pin the blame for the MH-17
crash on Russia and the rebels. Just three days after the crash, Secretary
of State John Kerry went on all five Sunday talk shows fingering Russia and
the rebels and citing evidence provided by the Ukrainian government through
social media.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” David Gregory asked, “Are you bottom-lining here
that Russia provided the weapon?”

Kerry: “There’s a story today confirming that, but we have not within the
Administration made a determination. But it’s pretty clear when – there’s a
build-up of extraordinary circumstantial evidence. I’m a former prosecutor.
I’ve tried cases on circumstantial evidence; it’s powerful here.” [See
Consortiumnews.com’s “Kerry’s Latest Reckless Rush to Judgment
<http://consortiumnews.com/2014/07/21/kerrys-latest-reckless-rush-to-judgment/>.”]


But some U.S. intelligence analysts offered conflicting assessments. After
Kerry’s TV round-robin, the Los Angeles Times reported
<http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-80870402/> on a U.S.
intelligence briefing given to several mainstream U.S. news outlets. The
story said, “U.S. intelligence agencies have so far been unable to
determine the nationalities or identities of the crew that launched the
missile. U.S. officials said it was possible the SA-11 [anti-aircraft
missile] was launched by a defector from the Ukrainian military who was
trained to use similar missile systems.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The
Mystery of a Ukrainian ‘Defector,’
<http://consortiumnews.com/2014/07/22/the-mystery-of-a-ukrainian-army-defector/>”]


A source who was briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts told me that
some analysts had concluded that the rebels and Russia were likely not at
fault and that it appeared Ukrainian government forces were to blame,
although possibly a unit operating outside the direct command of Ukraine’s
top officials.

The source specifically said the U.S. intelligence evidence did not
implicate Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko or Prime Minister Arseniy
Yatsenyuk but rather suggested an extremist element of the armed forces
funded by one of Ukraine’s oligarchs.

Regarding the alleged Russian role, the source said the U.S. analysts had
found no evidence that the Russian government had given the rebels a BUK
missile system, which would be capable of shooting down a commercial
airliner at 33,000 feet, the altitude of MH-17.

According to the Der Spiegel story, the BND reached the same conclusion,
that Russia was not the source of the missile battery. But the BND and
these U.S. analysts apparently differ on who they suspect fired the fateful
missile. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Flight 17 Shoot-down Scenario Shifts
<http://consortiumnews.com/2014/08/03/flight-17-shoot-down-scenario-shifts/>”and
“Was Putin Targeted for Mid-air Assassination?
<http://consortiumnews.com/2014/08/08/was-putin-targeted-for-mid-air-assassination/>”]


What has been curious about the handling of the MH-17 case is the failure
of the Obama administration and other Western governments to present
whatever evidence they have, whether satellite, electronic or telephonic so
the investigation can proceed more quickly in determining who was
responsible.

By withholding this evidence for nearly three months, the West has
benefited from keeping alive the anti-Russian propaganda – blaming Moscow
and President Vladimir Putin for the tragedy – but the secrecy has given
the perpetrators time to scatter and cover their tracks.

With Der Spiegel’s report, it’s now clearer why the delay and the secrecy.
If the missile responsible for bringing down MH-17 came from a Ukrainian
military base – not from the Russian government – then a very potent
anti-Putin propaganda theme would be neutralized. More attention also would
focus on whether the missile battery was really under the control of a
rebel unit, as the BND suggests – or was in the hands
of anti-rebel extremists.

*Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories
for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new
book, **America’s Stolen Narrative,** either in **print here
<https://org.salsalabs.com/o/1868/t/12126/shop/shop.jsp?storefront_KEY=1037>**
or
as an e-book (from **Amazon
<http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Stolen-Narrative-Washington-ebook/dp/B009RXXOIG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350755575&sr=8-1&keywords=americas+stolen+narrative>**
and **barnesandnoble.com
<http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/americas-stolen-narrative?keyword=americas+stolen+narrative&store=ebook&iehack=%E2%98%A0>**).
For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush
Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34.
The trilogy includes **America’s Stolen Narrative**. For details on this
offer, **click here
<http://consortiumnews.com/2014/06/25/continuing-parrys-3-book-offer/>**.*
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