Russian propaganda will, of course, sputter in indignation that these recordings are fabricated, but they are, in my considered opinion, authentic. I reproduce them in full. Readers can form their own opinion. They correspond to known facts I have already described–that surface-to-air missiles had been fired from this very area to bring down a Ukrainian transport plane days before, that a BUK missile had been sighted in the area by an Associated Press correspondent, and that the supreme rebel commander boasted on social media that his forces had brought down the plane which proved to be MH17.
But once this piece is posted, Putin’s trolls will go over every word of the often-garbled conversations to triumphantly declare they are falsifications or prove the innocence of the rebels and their Russian handlers.
Forget not that separatist field officers and their Russian superiors must communicate with one another in order to be briefed and issue orders. In the case of the BUK systems, there are instances where they use code words, like “beauty,” but in most cases they speak clearly about BUKs. Apparently, their communications are routinely intercepted by the Ukrainian side, just as I imagine similar Ukrainian field communications are by the pro-Russian side.
The transcripts of the intercepted calls show that rebels on the ground were receiving instructions from superiors in Russian military intelligence (GRU), that they discussed receipt, disposition (including hiding), and use of BUKs to bring down Ukrainian planes, that at least one BUK had come into Ukraine across the Russian border, that there was a crew that knew how to operate it, that there was likely more than one BUK, that the rebels considered the BUKs a game changer, and that they were expecting some sort of Russian hostile action launched from across the border.
Here are the English transcripts and the voice recordings of intercepted phone calls in Russian:
Talks between terrorists, July 14, 2014
“Oleh” – Oleh Bugrov Valeriovych, army chief of staff of self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, deputy minister of defense of “LNR”
“Oreon” – a citizen of the Russian Federation, officer of Main Intelligence Directorate (to be identified).
Oleh: – Worked out a plane near Stanitsa. Missed.
Oreon: – Great. This way they are taking revenge on planes, but only several days remain. Now we have BUK, will shall bring them (planes) down.
Talks between terrorists, July 17, 2014
Khmuryi: Sergei Nikolaevich Petrovskiy, officer of Main Intelligence Directorate of Russian Federation, Deputy Chief of Igor Girkin on Intelligence; at the time of the interception he was in Donetsk.
“Buryat” – militant of rebel group “DNR,” or Donetsk People’s Republic (to be identified).
Buryat: – Where should we load this beauty, Nikolaievich?
Khmuryi: Which one? This one?
B: Yes, the one I’ve brought. I’m already in Donetsk.
K: Is it the one I’m thinking about? “B…,”M” one?
B: Yes, yes, yes. “BUK”,”BUK”.
K: Is it on a tractor?
B: Yes, it’s on it. We need to unload it somewhere, in order to hide.
K: Is it with a crew?
B: Yes, with the crew.
K: Don’t hide it anywhere. She’ll go there now.
July 17, 2014
Khmuryi: – Tell me, have you brought me one or two?
Buryat: One, one. Because they had a misunderstanding there. They didn’t give us a tug. We loaded it and went at their own pace.
K: Did it go on her own or on a tug?
B: It crossed the line (border).
H: And now have you brought it on a tug? Don’t put in anywhere… I’ll tell now where it should go, it will go together with “Vostok” tanks.
July 17, 2014
Khmuryi and “Sanych” – militant of terrorist organization “DNR”. Deputy of Khmuryi.
K: Sanych, the point is that my “BUK–M” will go with yours, it is on a tug. Where should I drive it to put in a column?
Sanych: There, behind “Motel”, not reaching Hornostaevka.
K: Just after the Motel, right?
July 17, 2014
Khmuryi: Listen to me carefully, behind the circle near “Motel” there will be you know what. Call to “Bibliotekar” (Librarian).
Bring inside only those, who just came back, only as much as you need for the convoy. Leave everyone else here. Not far away there is Pervomaiskoe, look at the map.
DNR militant: I got it.
Khmuryi: Settle somewhere in that area, bring there those who are left. Your task is reserve, plus protection of this piece, which you will drive now. “Giyrza” will come there too. If anything, I’m on line.
DNR militant: – Ok.
July 17, 2014
Khmuryi and “Botsman” – officer of Main Intelligence Directorate of Russian Federation (to be identified).
K: Yes, Botsman, I’m listening.
B: Hello, big brother. How are you?
K: Not so well. We are in Mariinovka. That’s why not well. Carrying on.
B: What’s wrong?
K: What do you think? (The Ukrainian army is) attacking with “Grad” (multiple-rocket launchers) all the time, finally now we’re having a little break. We’ve just hit a plane, Su–type. Because we’ve got BUK–M. They (Ukrainian soldiers) are now in Zelenopillja, trying to break free, but their way out is only through me. Yesterday we hit 2 Su jets, today – another two. Thank God “BUK–M” arrived today in the morning. It became easier. But in general, of course, it’s tough.
B: What can I say, if you need anything, call me – and I’ll arrive immediately.
H: Thanks, brother. I’m going in two hours…Seems like it’s a lull. In two hours I’m heading to Donetsk. Because I was sent three more “Gvozdika” (self–propelled artillery). Will carry ‘Gvozdikas’ here because it’s really tough now.
B: Maybe we should cover them with (our own) Grad (multiple-rocket launchers)?
H: The thing is that we have Grad, but no spotter. And secondly, we are waiting for Russia to f*** them from their side.
Independent Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer, advises Putin as follows:
“It would be better if the separatists and Russian authorities stopped lying and fantasizing and “placing the responsibility on Ukraine” (to use Putin’s words) but admit as soon as possible their own guilt, such as it exists, not prolonging their unpremeditated crime with a premeditated concealing of facts and the destruction or distortion of evidence.”
Felgenhauer, I am sure, gave this advice knowing that Putin cannot comply. If Putin were to admit the truth, it would confirm that Russia has supplied fanatical and in some cases possibly insane rebel leaders with advanced military equipment contrary to his assertions that Russia has nothing to do with the Ukraine conflict, other than wanting peace. Such an admission expands the Ukrainian conflict to the world stage. It is the first case of rebels, supplied by a major power with surface-to-air missiles, bringing down a passenger plane. A nightmare shared by the whole world has come true. Which rebel group in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, or the Gaza strip will be next? In this context, Putin is just as dangerous as al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, and the rest of this crowd.
The Western press is vigorously hedging its bets, using terms like “we must wait and see,” “probable,” and “the Russian side denies.” It is strange that Russian denials are given credibility after Putin openly lied about Russian troops in Crimea. I should note that the UN used one intercepted communication between a Soviet fighter pilot and his commander to prove the 1983 downing of the Korean Air Lines 747 over USSR territory. We have even more evidence in the case of MH17, including the rebels own boasting about the downing of what they thought was a Ukrainian transport plane. We even have the U.S. ambassador to the UN sharing conclusive satellite imagery. What more is needed?