Ukraine: Taped Phone Calls Indicate Rebels Shot Plane Down

Friday, 18 Jul 2014 01:36 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Tape recordings of phone conversations between Russian intelligence officials and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine may be the "smoking gun" that prove Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by the rebels, Fox News reported.

The intercepted calls were disclosed by Ukraine’s security agency SBU and published in the Kiev Post. They seem to reveal panic after it was discovered that a passenger plane was downed and not a Ukrainian transport plane, which the separatists had targeted in the past week, Fox News said.

"We have just shot down a plane," a man identified as Igor Bezler, the Russian commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in Ukraine, said during a phone call 20 minutes after the plane was hit, according to Fox News.

Bezler allegedly made that call to a person identified by SBU as a colonel in the intelligence department of the general headquarters of the Russian Federation’s armed forces, according to Ukraine security officials.

A little later, a second call was reportedly taped between two men identified as "the Greek" and "Major," who discussed how debris showed the aircraft was a civilian passenger plane.

"It’s 100 percent a passenger aircraft," Major said while pointing out there were no weapons in sight. "Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper."

U.S. intelligence authorities said a surface-to-air missile brought down the Boeing 777 carrying 298 people as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The Ukrainian government in Kiev, the pro-Russia separatists and the Russian government that Ukraine accuses of supporting the rebels have all denied shooting the plane down.

But Fox News says the second call, if verified as authentic, could disprove claims by separatists that Ukrainian military shot the plane down.

Fox News quoted the transcript like this:

Major: "These are Chernukhin folks who shot down the plane. From the Chernukhin check point. Those Cossacks who are based in Chernukhino."

Greek: "Yes, Major."

Major: "The plane fell apart in the air. In the area of Petropavlovskaya mine. The first '200' [code word for dead person]. We have found the first '200.' A Civilian."

Greek: "Well, what do you have there?"

Major: "In short, it was 100 percent a passenger [civilian] aircraft."

Greek: "Are many people there?"

Major: "Holy [expletive]! The debris fell right into the yards [of homes]."

A third intercepted call Fox says was released by the SBU, took place 40 minutes after the rebels realized they had shot down a civilian aircraft.

On that call, Cossack commander Nikolay Kozitsin is quoted as telling another separatist that the fact the Malaysia Airlines plane was flying over the war zone must prove it had spies on board, Fox News said.

"That means they were carrying spies," Kozitsin allegedly says. "They shouldn’t be [expletive] flying. There is a war going on."

Meanwhile, Dr. Igor Sutyagin, research fellow in Russian Studies from the Royal United Services Institute in Britain, alleges that the plane was shot down by rebels based in the eastern Ukraine district of Torez using a BUK SA11 missile launcher, according to the Daily Mail.

Sutyagin said there was evidence that pro-Russian separatists were responsible for the attack and he also suggested that the missile launcher could have even been manned by soldiers from Russia.

"These separatists boasted on Twitter about capturing a BUK SA11 missile launcher on June 29, and several hours before the downing of the plane locals in Torez reported seeing BUK missile launchers and separatist flags around the city," he told the Daily Mail.

"Later, there was lots of video posted of the plane falling down and rebels saying that ‘it was not pointless moving it (the BUK) there.'"

Sutyagin said shortly after the attack, the military leader of the Donetsk Republic, Igor Strelkov, a Russian citizen, posted a video of the intercept. The video was taken down when it was discovered that it was a civilian plane, he said.

The expert said the former commander of Russian Air Force Special Operations Command recently said in an interview that the rebels could not operate BUK launchers, only Russian troops could.

Sutyagin also said that the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported the crash seven minutes before it actually happened.

"The plane is safely in the sky, and RIA Novosti publishes information that it has been shot down," he told the newspaper.

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