A deleted tweet from the Donetsk People’s Republic’s Twitter account, boasting of capturing a Ukrainian Buk anti-aircraft missile system, has been making its rounds on the Internet.
In the wake of the MH17 attack, the separatists and Russia have been engaged in a campaign to destroy evidence of the separatists’ responsibility for shooting down the Maylasian Airlines’ plane with a Buk missile launcher from the outskirts of Snizhne, Ukraine.
Researching the image posted by the rebels shows that they were, in fact, not the photographers. It appears they copied the photograph from elsewhere. The same photograph had been previously uploaded to VK.com as early as 2011. Contrary to what may have been widely believed at first, the photograph to the left did not show a Buk in the separatists’ hands at the time the photograph was taken.
Nonetheless, given the extraordinary amount of evidence stacked against the separatists, it’s clear that a Buk missile launcher was driving around Torez, Snizhne, and Luhansk, all of which are under separatist control.
Given that the Ukrainian authorities have previously denied the separatists had captured a Buk missile system and continue to claim that it can account for all sixty of its Buk systems, one has to question the motive for the separatists to claim to have captured a Ukrainian Buk while tweeting an older photograph of the Buk system.
The set of circumstances lends credibility to the theory that the separatists never controlled a Ukrainian military Buk, but were instead provided Buk missile launchers from Russia under the guise of “capturing” the system from Ukrainian forces.
Note: Should the link to the photo on VK.com not work, a screenshot can be viewed here. I also thank @Turnopil for helping locate the June 30th article of the Ukrainian authorities denying their Buk missile launchers had been captured.