How to find the missing Buk system

The rebels in eastern Ukraine seem to have lost their anti-aircraft system that they’re using to shoot down planes. So, let’s help them locate it.

On Twitter, there were photos and brief videos of the Buk being moved around and allegedly hidden. So, we’ll try to use a recent photo of the missing weapons system to help find it.

First, let’s start by finding the oldest tweet of this picture. Based on my research, @GirkinGirkin was among the first, if not the first, to tweet the photo of a Buk system.

I methodically translated the tweet using Google Translate.  As an occasional proofreader of translations by Slavic authors, I know how to handle weirdly translated phrases.  Thus, when Google screwed up the translation, it was no match for me.

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The tweet makes specific reference to “50 лет октября.” I would translate this as “50 Years of October,” an apparent reference to the October Revolution.  In Central and Eastern Europe, they love to name their streets after all kinds of events, so I took this to be a street.

Unfortunately, when you try to translate a hashtag, Google freaks out and omits it and that can sometimes affect the information.  So, when I translated the tweet, I had to remove the hashtag from “#Снежное.”  When you remove the hashtag, Google translates it as “On a snowy…”

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No, Google!  Bad, Google!

Now, by manipulating the translation, you can see that this is the Cyrillic spelling of Snezhnoye a.k.a. Shizhne, a city in eastern Ukraine.

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As you see above, Google also translates some nonsense about coal and a buffet.

Now, I have experience in these necks of the woods, so I understood that’s probably a clue to a landmark.  So, now we need to search for уголек (coal) Снежное (the name of the city).”

The first two results looked promising, so I opened both links.  The first one wasn’t of much help, so I turn to Wikimapia to save the day.

If you click around, you can identify the street names and the name of a restaurant, which happens to be called “уголек.”  Why is that interesting?  Well, the Google translation of the tweet also mentioned a “buffet.”  Associating food with buffet, it becomes clear that the author of the tweet was referring to a restaurant named “уголек.”  On the map below, the restaurant is the blue arrow.

I then found the “50 Years of October Street (50 лет октября).”  On the map, this is the pink arrow. 

I then looked for a barren plot of land with a single tree.  Found it!  It’s the orange arrow pointing into the pink triangle.

So, what’s this pink triangle?  It’s the vantage point that the photographer had in the tweeted picture.  The point connected to the building on “50 Years of October Street (50 лет октября)” is roughly from where the photographer took/snapped the picture of the missing Buk anti-aircraft system that may have killed 298 persons.  And, inside of that pink triangle is where the Buk was (Yes, where it says, “BUK WAS HERE”).

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So, I was able to figure out that the Buk was parked at улице Карапетяна 13. In the Latin alphabet, the address is: Street Karapetyan 13, Snizhne, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine. If you search for the address, it may not show up properly, so the coordinates are: 48° 1′ 1.0014″N 38° 45′ 20.25″E.  Working with Jeffrey Lewis and Aric Toler, we have been able to more confidently determine this is the location where the separatists had the Buk anti-aircraft system.

Jeffrey Lewis has a better depiction of the angle/vantage point that the photographer had. As you can see, the satellite imagery lines up nicely with the tweeted photo.



Amazingly, @AricToler was able to find Russian-language sources to confirm that the rebels operate in the area.  He even found a video of the rebels driving by a roundabout just north of the street where the Buk was parked, meaning they have a presence in the area.  Taking this all together, we’ve helped the rebels locate their missing Buk system.

Update: The address “Street Karapetyan 13a, Snizhne, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine” was originally used based on Wikimapia showing Street Karapetyan 13a incorrectly.  Based on Yandex Maps, the correct address is one letter shorter: Street Karapetyan 13, Snizhne, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.

5 thoughts on “How to find the missing Buk system

  1. […] “How to find the missing Buk system,”, July 19, 2014. […]

  2. […] KoreanDefense writes: “The rebels in eastern Ukraine seemed to have lost the anti-aircraft system they’re using to shoot down planes, so, let’s help them locate it.” […]

  3. […] is the first to show the Buk dismounted from the trailer seen in previous photographs, and was taken around 1:30pm in the town of Snizhne.  Again, in this image, the Buk is heading […]

  4. […] is the first to show the Buk dismounted from the trailer seen in previous photographs, and was taken around 1:30pm in the town of Snizhne.  Again, in this image, the Buk is heading […]

  5. […] was precisely located and showed the Buk heading south out of Snizhne. The photograph was also located to 13 Karapetyan Street, less than 1 kilometer northwest of the location on the video. Based on […]

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