Interview with the Ukrainian Operator of Buk 312, Which Ukraine Claims Was Used to Shot Down Malaysian Boeing MH-17
Shariy: Gentlemen, do you remember the Buk Surface-to Air Missile vehicle, tactical number 312, the same Buk, no way you could have forgotten it, whose photograph was published by Ukrainian security services, which I then analyzed, and then was told that I was lying, and this was a Russian Buk.
But anyway, right now meet someone who served on that very Buk vehicle.
Shariy: Hello, good morning!
Guest: Good morning! Very pleasant to talk with you.
Guest: Yes, yes, I have been watching your videos and, what can I say, you’ve been telling the truth. I’m 23 years old, and I served in the Ukrainian Army as a contract soldier. The contract expired during the summer and I was discharged, you already know why. While in the military, I served on the TEL (transporter-erector-launcher) for the Buk air defense missile system, and, it turns out, it was my TEL that I keep seeing on the internet. The TEL has a crew of 4, crew chief (with the rank of sergeant), deputy crew chief, driver, and operator.
This TEL, on which you made a video earlier, it was being driven to Kramatorsk from Lugansk. It belonged to a regiment that was based in Donetsk and which was armed with the Buk system. The regiment has three battalions. So let me decipher for you what the number “312” means. 3 stands for Third Battalion, based in Lugansk. There is also a battalion in Mariupol, the Second, and the First Battalion is in Avdeyevka. “1” stands for First Battery, to which I was assigned. Finally, the “2” refers to the firing unit, of which each battery has two. Each firing unit consists of a TEL, a reloading vehicle. I couldn’t tell you whether the 312 actually shot down the Boeing [MH17], because when the fighting started, we were based in Lugansk. When Ukrainian military bases in the Crimea started being overrun, we were deployed to the field. At first we were sent to Kramatorsk. That photograph showing the 312 on a flatbed trailer was from our second redeployment.
Shariy: But the catch here is that they were saying this is supposedly a Russian Buk, it was being presented as a Russian Buk.
Guest: No, this is a Ukrainian Buk, I personally know that vehicle. The photograph that I sent you [which is shown on the video and above] shows the 312 in Lugansk, you can see the Yubileynaya coal mine in the background. The unit garrison is in the town of Metallist, which is why you see the Yubileynaya from the hill. It’s even funny, because everyone who has served in the Lugansk Battalion knows this vehicle, yet the Ukrainian Security Service is claiming this is a militia-owned Buk, or a Russian Buk, there were various stories.
Shariy: OK, and what is your opinion concerning who shot down the Boeing?
Guest: This one I don’t know. I know that the Ukrainian Security Service has been claiming that it was that very Buk 312 that shot down the Boeing, but it could not have done that. I don’t know what exactly happened, because by that time they sent me to the Avdeyevka Battalion, lots of soldiers and sergeants were being reshuffled, so much so that at one point I was the only member of the crew. I have talked to some of my former comrades and they had nothing to say about it, apparently they didn’t shoot down anything. So I can’t tell you anything about the Boeing.
But here’s the situation. Once we arrived at Kramatorsk, we were stationed at a military airport with another unit. After we spent a month at Kramatorsk, we were sent to the field. The poor-quality photograph [shown on the video] was made during that time. Our crew chief, I won’t mention his name, was driving the 312 on a hand break when its electrical system caught fire, nearly destroying the vehicle. There was even a danger of the missiles being launched. The firefighters were able to put out the fire, but that is the reason why the 312 was being towed on a trailer. It was being transferred from Kramatorsk to the Dnepropetrovsk Oblast.
Shariy: So it was in the Dnepropetrovsk Oblast?
Guest: Yes, yes. In the village of Novogrigoryevka. The Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, and Donetsk oblasts all meet there. At that point I, even though I was serving on a contract, did not think they would ever release me, so I started to screw up on purpose. Let me tell you a thing or two about the Ukrainian Army. We lived in the field, while the officers were getting drunk on the side. Yet the soldiers, even contract sergeants, were prohibited from going to shops themselves. And, being a “fighter for justice”, I started to speak up, why is it that some can go to grocery stores while others cannot, so I was put in my place. But the situation in the field was such that everyone was fed up with it. Every day people were leaving, soldiers were deserting, joining the militia…
Shariy: They were joining the Novorossiya militia?
Guest: Yes, we had a few cases of soldiers joining the militia.
Shariy: When and where was this?
Guest: It was when we were in the field, parents would come, take their sons, who would never come back. One went to a hospital in Kharkov and never returned. After all, the border is right there.
Shariy: OK, so let me ask you this: what was the sense of sending the Buk to the combat zone?
Guest: As far as I know (and the officers know more, the battery commanders, the chiefs of staff), when the military bases were overrun we were sent to the field and away from the border. They were afraid the missile systems would be captured. And later it may be it was sent to the combat zone because they were in general short on people. The Buk system is made to shoot at aircraft, it cannot be used against ground targets, so there was no use from us in the combat zone.
Shariy: That’s what I can’t understand, why were they keeping you there? What was the purpose?
Guest: Maybe they sent us because they were short on people in the combat zone. After we were sent to Dnepropetrovsk we were scattered among the units, they were preparing a major march, I was sent to the First Battalion because I did not want to go to the combat zone, a Major General came to us to talk, and I told him that I served out my time and don’t want to go to the combat zone, what for? Nobody ever explained to us what was going on. Then I was in Novogrigoryevka, then Vasilkovka, also in Dnepropetrovsk Oblast, about 80km, then I lived with the First, Avdeyevka, Battalion. The commander of the Avdeyevka Battalion actually had an arrest warrant put out for him in Russia—he remained in Avdeyevka base, with a few soldiers. However, the commander has some mental issues, he is known for assaulting his soldiers, known for physical violence, he has his oddities. So he remained in Avdeyevka with about 10 soldiers, average age of 20, and they were defending the garrison, where Buk systems were also based. Incidentally, a few TELs were left behind in Lugansk, not all were operational, and when we tried to deploy, half of our vehicles promptly broke down as soon as we left. Some of them managed to reach their destination on their own, others were put on trucks. There are videos on the internet, one shows a Buk being driven through Gorlovka. But three TELs were left behind because they could not be moved and some of their subsystems were missing, and whatever was left behind was taken over by the militia.
Shariy: But they would have to know how to use them.
Guest: No, as far as I understand, they have no shortage of specialists, as far as I can tell. But people who have been walking past the garrison could see through the fence that someone is busy there, always fixing and repairing.
Shariy: OK, your personal opinion, as a specialist, who shot down the Boeing?
Guest: It seems to me it was the Ukrainian Army. I don’t know the specifics, but looking at the zone of fire, it would have to be the Ukrainian Army.
Shariy: But why?
Guest: I don’t know. The specialists could have gotten confused. I can tell you from personal experience that the Ukrainian Army drinks in the evening, after the work day is over, so anything could have happened.
Shariy: But one has to first receive target information, concerning altitude, coordinates, it’s not simply a matter of pushing a button.
Guest: Yes, yes. There is a button for identification “friend or foe” (IFF). You press the button and are supposed to receive a response—friend or foe. And something might have not worked out.
Shariy: But what is the sense of firing? If they made a mistake, did they think they were shooting at a militia fighter? They could not have been thinking that.
Guest: I don’t understand the situation myself. Lots of people have left the Ukrainian Army. In my unit only 3-4 sergeants still remained, everyone else had left. Half of my friends are now in Russia: Moscow, or in Novosibirsk, or in Rostov. But now the situation is different. No matter what you do, short of deserting or shooting someone, they will not fire you. A law has been adopted not to release anyone from the army. They will release you only if you have close relatives for whom you must care, otherwise they will not. There was a soldier, 33 years of age, sitting with us out there in the field, who had a stomach ulcer, but they would not dismiss him. He went four times to the hospital.
Shariy: So how did he leave the military.
Guest: Well, he simply left the hospital. They probably put him on the Missing in Action list.
Shariy: So if there is large-scale desertion, are they simply being classified as missing?
Guest: Yes, it’s a puzzle for me too. At the time we had 15 sergeants in the unit. After a while there were only three left, right now they are still in the combat zone. And they have sent, maybe two months ago, even the Avdeyevka Battalion to the combat zone. Even though I don’t see the sense of Buk systems being there, what are they afraid of, fighter aircraft? So maybe it is simply the personnel shortage.
Guest: Right now the draftees are in their eighth month, and they are constantly promising to discharge them soon, and you have seen the video…
Shariy: Yes, yes, they were all accused of being Kremlin spies. Because a true Ukrainian should want to serve 3, 4, 5 years.
Guest: For 150 hryvnia a month.
Shariy: Yes, yes [laughing]
Guest: I’m not afraid of anything, I have nothing to hide. Looking forward to new videos and revelations!
Translated by Mike for FortRuss.blogspot.com