The Rendon Group Snapshot Report – 19 October 2015

by TRG Alerts Admin on October 26, 2015

The Rendon Group


Each week The Rendon Group’s media analysts will focus on a different continent and a different issue affecting that continent. As always, we remain available to answer any questions you may have and to provide additional information upon request. For more information regarding The Rendon Group’s products and services, please contact us at or +1-202-745-4900.

Dutch Safety Board Report on Flight MH17

A view of the rebuilt cockpit section of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 during a press conference to present the report findings of the Dutch Safety Board in Gilze Rijen

Source: EPA

This week’s snapshot focuses on the latest development regarding the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.  On 13OCT15, investigators from the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) released their final report that confirmed that flight MH17, which crashed over Eastern Ukraine in July 2014, was struck by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile launched by a ‘Buk’ mobile air-defense system. The West and Ukraine attribute the launch to pro-Russian rebels, while Russia blames Ukrainian forces.

News summary of events during the week of 12OCT15 – 19OCT15

  • 13OCT: Russian-owned ‘Buk’ manufacturer Almaz-Antey released the results of two experiments that company officials said were designed to validate or discredit the results of a preliminary report issued by the DSB. (Defensenews)
  • 13OCT: The DSB’s 15-month inquiry was released and concluded that the aircraft was struck by a Russian-made missile. (NYT)
  • 13OCT: Russian news agencies quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying the Dutch investigation was biased. (Reuters)
  • 14OCT: Ukraine’s pro-Russian rebels and Moscow rejected the Dutch report. (BBC)
  • 16OCT: The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed it “will stop all the attempts to politicize” the MH17 crash in Ukraine.” (Sputnik)
  • 16OCT: In an official press release, Russia’s state-owned Buk missile manufacturer accused the DSB of “falsifying” its final report. (Almaz-Antey [in Russian])
  • 16OCT: Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders accused Russia of “sowing confusion” about the fate of flight MH17 through its criticizm of the DSB’s report. (AFP)
  • 16OCT: Australian media outlets alleged that the DSB’s investigationwas hindered by Malaysia, which “suspended” assistance and attempted to conduct its own probe. (
  • 16OCT: Almaz-Antey sued the EU for losses sustained by sanctions imposed against the firm following the downing of MH17. (RFE/RL)
  • 16OCT: Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Lai called the DSB’s report “transparent and professional.” (New Straits Times)
  • 17OCT: DSB investigators and Almaz-Antey continued to disupte the launch site of the Buk missile that brought down MH17. (Bellingcat)

Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about the DSB report:

  • @KenRoth – Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
  • @TheAviationist – David Cenciotti’s in-depth coverage of military and civil aviation, defense, and technology
  • @FHeisbourg – Chairman of IISS, GCSP Special Adviser FRS
  • @EliotHiggins – Founder of Bellingcat, research fellow at CENTRIC, visiting research associate at King’s College London’s Department of War Studies
  • @Steven_Pifer – Director of the Brookings Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative and former US Ambassador to Ukraine

Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the DSB report:

Nick de Larrinaga, European editor of IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly

“There is no plausible military reason why this aircraft — which had been flying for some time over Ukrainian territory already — would have been considered a threat by Kiev.”

  • Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Most Likely Hit by Russian-Made Missile, Inquiry Says, NYT, 13OCT15

Dr. Igor Sutyagin, Senior Research Fellow, Russian Studies, Royal United Services Institute

“Reacting to the revelations of the Dutch Safety Board, the firm Almaz-Antey, which manufactures the missiles, argued that the 9M38M missile used to intercept the MH17 could not have been used by Russian forces, claiming that they were retired by 2011 and have been replaced by the newer 9M317 model.  Photo evidence, however, confirms that the 9M38M1 (9M38M) missiles were still in active use by the air-defence element of the Russian military after 2011.”

  • Flight MH17 – The Russian Connection?, RUSI, 14OCT15

Nerijus Maliukevicius, Lecturer and Scientific researcher at Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science

“I think the [MH17] case is very illustrative. We would think of what an Internet troll would do by spoiling all rational discussion or distracting or getting off-topic.  From this narrow perspective you can bring it up to Kremlin strategic thinking on how you suddenly distract, bring up other issues. You start using this whataboutism strategy.”

  • Russia’s Reality Trolls and the MH17 War of Misinformation, FP, 13OCT15

Paul Craig Roberts, former US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy (1981–1982), former academic appointments at Virginia Tech, Tulane University, University of New Mexico, Stanford University, George Mason University, and Georgetown.

“As I wrote at the time of the airliner’s destruction, the Western media already had ‘the-Russians-did-it’ story ready the moment the airliner was reported to be shot down.  This story was very useful to Washington in hardening its European vassal states into sanctions against Russia, as there was some dissent. What Washington has never explained and the Western media has never asked is:  What motive did separatists and Russia have to shoot down a Malaysian airliner?“

  • The MH-17 report: No attention to facts, Pravda, 15OCT15

Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg View columnist, founding editor of Vedomosti and

“In that sense, the Dutch report changes little, showing — without saying it in so many words — that the Buk missile which destroyed the plane must have been launched from rebel-held territory. Yet it stresses a point that Russia has repeatedly made in its defense: Ukraine, a country responsible for safeguarding its airspace, failed in its duty by allowing passenger jets to fly over the conflict area. While there can be no moral equivalency between arming or protecting the perpetrators of that crime, and failing to close the skies, the uncomfortable truth laid bare by the report is that both sides in the conflict were glaringly incompetent.”

  • MH17 Crash Report Shows No Side Was Innocent, Bloomberg, 13OCT15

Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the recently released Dutch report on the downing of Malaysian Air Flight MH17.

1. BLOG: Dutch report: Buk missile downed MH17 in Ukraine

Media: Checkpoint (Washington Post)

Byline: Andrew Roth, Brian Murphy and Thomas Gibbons-Neff

Date: 13 October 2015

MOSCOW — A Russian-developed Buk missile detonated less than a yard away from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17’s cockpit, causing the plane to break up over eastern Ukraine so quickly that it is likely the nearly 300 people aboard “were barely able to comprehend the situation” before they perished, Dutch investigators said Tuesday.

The long-awaited findings by the Dutch Safety Board offered a chilling account of the devastation aboard the Kuala Lumpur-bound airliner that was blown out of the sky over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. The report marks the latest stage of evidence gathering as investigators try to sort out what happened to the plane, whose flight path took it directly over the war-torn region.

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2. Ukraine’s pro-Russian rebels reject Dutch MH17 report

Media: BBC

Byline: N/A

Date: 14 October 2015

A senior Ukrainian rebel leader has rejected a Dutch report that concluded a Russian-made missile downed MH17 over Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 people.

Aleksandr Zakharchenko told the BBC the investigation into the disaster “hadn’t been carried out properly at all”.

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3. Dutch FM says Russia ‘sowing confusion’ on MH17: report

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Byline: N/A

Date: 16 October 2015

The Hague (AFP) – Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders on Friday accused Russia of “sowing confusion” about the fate of flight MH17 by constantly criticising a final report into the disaster.

“I get the impression that the Russians at this point are not really that interested in the final report, but rather in sowing confusion (about it),” Dutch media quoted Koenders saying ahead of a weekly cabinet meeting in The Hague.

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4. MH17: Russia Slams Holland’s Attempts to Politicize Crash Report

Media: Sputnik (Russia)

Byline: N/A

Date: 16 October 2015

Russia invited Dutch experts to Moscow many times, but Amsterdam refused each offer and are now trying to make a scandal out of it, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

Maria Zakharova stressed that Russian Foreign Minstry “will stop all the attempts to politicize” the MH17 crash in Ukraine.

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5. Flight MH17: Russia and its changing story

Media: BBC

Byline: N/A

Date: 16 October 2015

When a Dutch team revealed this week what caused the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 air disaster in eastern Ukraine, their inquiry steered clear of saying who fired the missile that brought the plane down, killing all 298 people on board.

But Russian officials immediately complained the inquiry was biased, keen to absolve the Moscow government of any blame.

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