Eliot Higgins, the founder of the open-source investigation website Bellingcat, says Russian defense officials have misinterpreted shadows and objects in an attempt to show there was a problem with lighting in videos produced by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing into the downing of flight MH17 over Donbas in 2014.
"So the Russian MoD [Ministry of Defense] is claiming there's something dodgy about the lighting in the videos, but it's just misinterpreting the shadows and objects. I'll explain how," he tweeted on September 17.
The Russian side uses images to claim the white part of the cabin of the truck, which, according to the JIT's conclusions, transported a Buk missile system from Russia to Russian-occupied Donbas, shouldn't be visible in shadows. The Buk was used by Russian-led forced to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines Boeing. "…We see the white part of the top of the cabin turns black when it enters the shadow, but the top right part doesn't. But this is based on the idea the top of the truck that goes dark is white, but it's not. It's a dark band that's reflecting sunlight making it look white in the low quality footage, and without the reflecting light, it's much darker," he explains.
The Russian MoD uses the following images to claim the white part of the cabin on the top right shouldn't be visible in shadows. In the second image we see the white part of the top of the cabin turn black when it enters the shadow, but the top right part doesn't 2/ pic.twitter.com/uNQHNLZ9az— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) September 17, 2018
"In the HD version of the video the Russian MoD presented you can see this effect clearly as it passes the camera. Clearly Russia's 'experts' don't have a clue what they're talking to, and don't have access to the same original source material we have," he said.
There is also satellite imagery of the Russian Buk convoy to serve as additional evidence.
"The Russian MoD doesn't seem to realise the Buk convoy seen in this video was captured by a passing satellite," he added.
The Russian officials also allege that one of the images from the JIT report was fake as the truck with the Buk was moving in the wrong direction.
"Something else from the Russian MoD video, they use the following animation from the JIT to claim one of the photographs is fake. This is misleading, and based on an error in the original JIT animation. The Russian MoD is correct in saying it's moving in the wrong direction in the JIT video, but the location the photograph was actually taken is different," he said.
The camera was facing south, and the Buk is pointing east, which means it's actually travelling in the correct direction, just the JIT animation was wrong. The Russian MoD uses this to falsely claim the photo is fake 3/3 pic.twitter.com/tgcCAaO7db— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) September 17, 2018
"The camera was facing south, and the Buk is pointing east, which means it's actually travelling in the correct direction, just the JIT animation was wrong. The Russian MoD uses this to falsely claim the photo is fake," he added.
The JIT also responded to Russia's new "proof." The JIT says it will meticulously study the materials presented on September 17 as soon as the Russian Federation makes the relevant documents available to the JIT as requested in May 2018 and required by UNSC resolution 2166. "From the start of the investigation until today, the JIT has always carefully analyzed and processed the information provided by the Russian Federation. In doing so, the JIT has found that information from the Russian Ministry of Defense previously presented to the public and provided to the JIT was factually inaccurate on several points," it said.