A year later, two studies offer differing theories on passenger plane shot down over the Ukraine

Dutch investigators tasked with getting to the bottom of what caused the crash of a Malaysia Air passenger plane over the Ukraine last year issued its verdict on Tuesday: a Russian-made surface-to-air missile brought down the plane.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung ran two stories about the finding in its October 13 online edition. The top story delivered the results of the Dutch study. However, it was a second, four-paragraph story about a separate investigation undertaken by the manufacturer of the Russian Buk rocket system that caught my eye -- both for how the story was framed and its brevity.

In that story, the reporter (Julian Hans in Moscow) writes that the Russian Almas-Antei armaments firm invested  140,000 euros in its study to ascertain, among other things, what sort of rocket might have brought down the plane and where it was fired from. The study concluded that it was a Buk rocket last manufactured in the former Soviet Union in 1986 and that it had to have been fired from an area under the control of Ukrainian forces at the time of the accident. The study also pointed out that the Russian military had retired the specific rocket under question -- a 9M38 -- three years earlier.

The Dutch study had made no effort to name who might be responsible for firing the rocket, other than to say that its trajectory suggested it came from an area under control of Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists at the time of the accident.

The doubt with which the second, Russian study was received by the German press was underscored by the story's headline: "Their very own version for 140,000 Euros" (Eine ganz eigene Version für 140 000 Euro). The story places further editorial doubt on the Russian manufacturer's version of events in its concluding paragraphs, saying first that international experts were not invited to participate in the investigation because of lack of space in the test facilities. ("Ausländische Experten seien zu den Untersuchungen nicht eingeladen worden, weil in den Bunkern auf dem Testgelände nicht genug Platz sei.") . The story then ends with the point that the Almas-Antei investigation report not only contradicts the Dutch investigation but also the results of a domestic  Russian investigation, which had concluded a Ukrainian fighter jet had shot down the passenger plane.

 

This photo of the destroyed Malaysia Air passenger plane reconstructed in a Dutch hangar was provided by  Getty Images and ran online in Tuesday's Sueddeutsche Zeitung. 

 

 

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