Disinformation about the Absence of Russian Trace in the MH17 Investigation

5 June, 2019

On May 31, 2019, Sputnik Abkhazia published an article in which the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir bin Mohamad speaks about the crash of Malaysian Airlines’ Boeing-777, Flight MH17. According to the PM, the investigation concerning the airplane crash is politicized and there is no evidence that would indicate a Russian footprint.

Mahathir bin Mohamad: “They accuse Russia, but where is the evidence? We know that the missile that came into contact with the airplane was a Russian type, but it could have been manufactured in Ukraine.

The claim by the PM of Malaysia that there is no evidence of Russian footprint in the shooting down of Flight MH17 in Donetsk region in 2014, is disinformation. Several investigations exist on the given matter that confirm that the missile that shot the Malaysian Airlines’ flight, belongs to the Russian Armed Forces. The Government of the Netherlands addressed the PM of Malaysia with a statement asking for a clarification of his statement.

  • Investigations by Bellingcat and JIT confirm that the missile belongs to a Russian brigade

A joint investigative group including Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Ukraine confirm using photo and video materials that the cargo convoy transporting the missile system departed from Russia to Eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, entered Makeevka, Donetsk Oblast and once again crossed the border without one missile the next day. Serial numbers on the car as well as other signs have been identified as belonging to the 53rd Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces, specifically to an anti-air unit located in Kursk, western Russia.



Bellingcat used open sources for the investigation in their research, published in 2017. The route of the cargo convoy was identified through dozens of photo and video materials. The materials include the territory where the convoy was moving, so it was possible to easily compare the environment with Google Street View. A satellite image from Stratfor was able to capture the Russian missile system on July 17, 2014.



Eyewitnesses of the incident also provided significant information in the framework of the investigation. They heard the sound of explosion and captured the trajectory of the missile on photos. Analysis of several photos allowed to determine the location of the missile launch site which coincided with the territory where the Russian cargo convoy was captured.



In 2018, Bellingcat, based on the phone recordings of the Ukrainian Secret Services, was able to identify those individuals that were directly or indirectly connected to the crash. One of the phone conversations clearly mentions information about the route of the cargo convoy and the plan to shoot down [military] planes. The individuals identified are Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov, a high-ranking Russian GRU officer, and Nikolay Fedorovich Tkachev, a general.

It is also noteworthy that on the day of the crash, on July 17, 2014, a Russian national and the Head of the Rebel Forces in Donetsk region, Igor Ivanovich Strelkov, disseminated on Vkontakte (Russian social media website) information on shooting down a Ukrainian military airplane AN26 in Donetsk, with photo and video materials attached, showing smoke caused by the explosion. After the media coverage of the MH17 crash, Strelkov’s post disappeared from the social media website.

The Netherlands and Australia considered the given incident a violation of international law and together with the USA and the EU, called for Russia to take responsibility for the incident. Members of the investigatory group raised the issue at the UN as well, however, Russia vetoed the resolution on the creation of an international tribunal in 2015.

MH17 Crash in the Russian Media

Russian media tries to disseminate disinformation narratives against the background of the investigation:

  • MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian military plane;
  • The explosion was caused by a Ukrainian missile which was aiming for a plane of the President of Russia;
  • The airplane was packed with dead bodies even before it was shot down;
  • The airplane was shot down by a BUK, but the latter did not belong to Russia.

In order to confirm Ukraine’s blame, Russia fabricated fake photo materials that were exposed by Bellingcat.

Comments on the Statement of the Malaysian PM

“His comments are not only strange and alarming, but also counterproductive in the search for truth in the case with 298 deaths, out of which 34 were Malaysian nationals” – stated one of the working groups of the MH17 investigation.

The Government of the Netherlands addressed the PM of Malaysia in a written form and asked for the clarification of the statement.

On July 17, 2014, in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, a Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 (Boeing-777) was shot down while being en route from Amsterdam to Kuala-Lumpur. In the incident, 298 people died, including 193 Dutch nationals; it was the Netherlands who led the international investigation, the conclusions of which Russia does not recognize until today.

Prepared by Maiko Ratian