Kyiv, 22 July 2014 – The BUK M-1 system that was used by terrorists to shoot down MH17 Flight could only be supplied by Russia, said Deputy Minister of Defense, commander of the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces in 1996-2000, Colonel-General Oleksandr Stetsenko, during a briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
The expert explained why Ukraine could not have been involved in the downing of the plane. According to Colonel-General Stetsenko, all planes that cross the Ukrainian border are tracked by Ukraine’s unified air traffic control system. The plane was following a determined route, which is why Ukraine could not have any doubts that this was a civil aircraft.
Former commander of the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces said that a missile strike at 10,100 m could be launched using a BUK or a Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile system, both of which Russia has in its arsenal. However, there is no data suggesting that Pantsir-S1 could be available in the launch area.
“Both BUK and Pantsir-S1 allow military tasks to be carried out using a single autonomous unit. However, minimum crew training time for this is 6 months,” said the expert.
He added that it is difficult to acquire a small, maneuvering target using this autonomous unit, but a passenger plane is a large target that was moving in a predictable manner, which made it easy to acquire. At the same time, an AN-26 aircraft, which many believe to have been the terrorists’ target, flies at 6.5 km.
Furthermore, Mr. Stetsenko emphasized that the Buk missile system, in particular its warhead, has unique, easily identifiable, characteristics. This is why, according to the expert, Russia will not allow an adequate investigation, which should involve the examination of plane debris and victims’ bodies. “All possible evidence has already been removed,” Mr. Stetsenko said.
Former commander of the Ukrainian Air Defense urged the international community to properly respond to the disaster: “Because the plane was carrying passengers of various nationalities, this event needs to be classified as international terrorism,” Mr. Stetsenko said.
Oleksandr Stetsenko was the Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine and Commander of the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces in 1996 – 2000. He holds a PhD in military sciences, he is a lecturer of operational art and a professor at the Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv.