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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Liveblog Day 155
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
MH17 and Moscow's Magical Mystery Jets
7 years
MH17 Black Boxes To Be Sent To UK For Analysis
Ukrainian Forces Enter Severodonetsk

In a separate analysis for The Interpreter, NYU professor Mark Galeotti digs into (and rips apart) various theories for the downing of flight MH17 presented by the Russian government yesterday. One theory, that a Ukrainian Su-25 was tailing MH17 (the insinuation is that the Ukrainian military jet shot the airliner down) is particularly puzzling:

One wishes the Russians would make their minds up: was it a Ukrainian ground-based missile or a jet they are implying shot down MH17? In any case, setting aside the continued implausibility of this “false flag” hypothesis, or indeed Kiev’s claim that no such jet was in the area, let’s consider the details.

A Su-25 is a ground-attack aircraft. Yes, it can be armed with air-to-air missiles such as the R-60 ‘Aphid’, but its 3kg warhead—compared with the SA-11 Buk’s 70kg—is extremely unlikely to have done the damage visible on MH17. Eyewitness and photographic evidence from the crash site demonstrates a very broad and deep fragmentation pattern. Both the Buk’s 98M38 or 98M317 missiles and the R-60 are designed to explode just before impact to blast the target with shrapnel, but the size, pattern and above all quantity and kinetic energy of the two weapons’ warheads are very different.

Nor necessarily is an R-60 at all likely to have brought a Boeing 777 down with one hit. The KAL 007 747 brought down by Soviet fighters in 1983 was hit by two heavier R-98 missiles (with 40kg warheads) and still did not suffer the immediate, catastrophic destruction evident for MH17. Overall, the damage clearly points to a larger weapon than the R-60.

Read the entire analysis here: