Disinfo: Biased, politicised MH17 investigation ignores Moscow-supplied radar data

Summary

The work of the Joint Investigation Team probing the MH17 disaster has been politicised, one-sided, and biased. It seems that only those pieces of evidence which confirm the official scenario are admitted, all other information is simply rejected or forgotten. The JIT has denied Russia access to the probe, despite the fact that Moscow conducted its own investigation and provided the Dutch team with evidence such as radar data, proving the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian Buk missile.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the downing of the flight MH17 and the subsequent Joint International Investigation. A special team, known as the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), was established to conduct the criminal investigation of the downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in 2014. The team comprises officials from the Dutch Public Prosecution Service and the Dutch police, along with police and criminal justice authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine. In order to find out the cause of the crash, the Joint Investigation Team investigated all human remains, personal belongings and wreckage of the aircraft found in the vicinity of the disaster site. The traces were secured and investigated and compared by experts. In addition, the JIT sought and heard witnesses and experts, analysed radar and satellite images, assessed large amounts of telecom data such as intercepted telephone conversations and analysed big data. Read more about the investigation here. There are no legal or logical grounds for granting Russian officials an active role in the MH17 investigation. The crash did not take place over Russian territory and claimed no Russian lives, which precludes any basis for Moscow to be represented in the JIT. Dutch Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke told a Russian newspaper that "if MH17 were shot down over Russia, I would have suggested that Russia be made a member of the JIT group." The "radar readings" provided by Moscow has done nothing to either supplement or challenge the JIT's findings. At a June 2019 press conference, Dutch Police Chief Wilbert Paulissen stated that the Russia-supplied data "wasn't clear enough" and did not include the actual firing of the missile (1:14:30-1:15:00). See here for further debunking of the radar data claim by Bellingcat. Based on the investigation the JIT has concluded that flight MH17 was shot down on 17 July 2014 by a missile of the 9M38 series, launched by a BUK-TELAR, from farmland in the vicinity of Pervomaiskiy. At that time, the area was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. The BUK-TELAR was brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation and subsequently, after having shot down flight MH17, was taken back to the Russian Federation. The public hearing started on 9 March 2020 in the Netherlands.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 201
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 12/06/2020
  • Outlet language(s) English
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Malaysia, The Netherlands, Ukraine, Russia
  • Keywords: Anti-Russian, MH17
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Aegis Ashore missile defense system and MK-41 in Romania are an immediate threat to Russia

With the new (Defence) strategy, Romania will start acting like the Baltic States and Poland, which also shout about the Russian threat. Romania participates in anti-Russian NATO exercises and places American weapons on its territory. The US military base is operating in the country, where the Aegis Ashore missile defense system and launchers system MK-41 are installed. They can be used to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles. This is an immediate threat to Russia.

Disproof

The Aegis Ashore Missile Defence System is part of the European Phased Adapted Approach, designed to protect European NATO allies, and the U.S. deployed forces in the region, against current and emerging ballistic threats from the Middle East. U.S. Naval Forces ruled out the possibility of targeting the Russian Federation with the Aegis Ashore system. In August 2019 the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defence system in Romania completed scheduled update. This update did not provide any offensive capability to the Aegis Ashore missile defence system. The MK-41 launcher used at the Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defence system deployed in Romania is only capable of launching defensive interceptor missiles. Russians have long claimed that the MK-41 VLS system allows Aegis Ashore to also launch ground-based cruise missiles. The accusation has been categorically rejected by Washington and NATO, which say the system does not have the software or the hardware needed to launch offensive ballistic or cruise missiles such as the Tomahawk, and its role is only to intercept missiles. The Romanian Defence Minister Teodor Melescanu also reiterated in February 2019 that "Aegis Ashore" was a strictly defensive system. See similar cases claiming that US deploys missiles prohibited by INF treaty in Poland and Romania or that US missile defence-bases in Romania and Poland are purposefully targeting Russia.

USA wants to divide Russian society before the constitutional referendum

The USA wants to divide Russian society before the constitutional referendum. A senior Russian security official pointed out that hostile Western actors would try to provoke “nationalist and separatist feelings” in the run-up to the national vote on the adoption of the new constitution on 1 July. The West is taking steps to “increase the informational pressure” with the aim of undermining Russia’s “spiritual, cultural, historical and moral values”. In his opinion, these alleged psychological operations are trying to reduce “feelings of national identity” in order to “divide Russian society”.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about the US presence in Europe, portraying the US as meddling in Russia's internal affairs. Russia is trying to pass a constitutional reform with voting on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation from June 25 to July 1. The narrative of meddling in Russia is consistent with previous disinformation narratives that saw US-interference in the 2018 Presidential elections or deals with the alleged destabilization of Russia. See: the US is now trying to set up the colour revolutions matrix ahead of Russia’s 2018 Presidential elections and The organisers of “colour revolutions” in the CIS aim to destabilise the situation in Russia. Additionally, the recurrent narrative of "fundamental Russian values" (orthodox religion, traditional family etc.), is often presented as values opposing the "decadent" West, it does not reflect Russia's own reality and may serve as the justification of the failure of democratic processes in Russia.

George Soros funds far-left Democrat organisation aiming to oust Trump

Liberal financier George Soros has been exposed as a financial contributor to Refuse Fascism, a far-left Democrat organisation dedicated to removing Donald Trump from office. In an undercover video by Project Veritas, the head of Refuse Fascism’s Atlanta chapter reveals that the group received a “grant” from controversial billionaire Soros.

Disproof

The story advances the pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative alleging that the racial justice protests in the US are being spearheaded by violent left-wing groups which, in their turn, are financed by George Soros. Refuse Fascism is not a "Democrat" organisation. It was established following Trump's presidential victory in 2016, and espouses the principle of non-violent direct action in its activities. Crucially, the group is not affiliated with the US Democratic Party in any way. On the contrary, members of Refuse Fascism have criticised the party and expressed a "fundamental disbelief in [its] ability to stop Trump through electoral politics." Tee Stern, the member of Refuse Fascism filmed by Project Veritas, does not say that the group received a grant from Soros. In the heavily edited video, the activist says the following (2:15-2:33, brackets added by Project Veritas):

"We did apply for a grant from Soros at one point, a long time ago when I was doing more abortion rights and defending clinics. We actually did get a grant from them (Soros) around-- we started a thing called a 'National Day of Appreciation' for abortion providers."

It is not immediately clear from the statement whether the "grant" predates the establishment of Refuse Fascism, but it is certain that the funds were earmarked for an unrelated abortion-rights cause which Stern happened to be involved in. The claim that Soros' Open Society Foundation is bankrolling the demonstrators has been separately debunked by Politifact.