July 17, 2005, was the one-year anniversary of the downing Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over the Donbass area of eastern Ukraine. On this anniversary, Russian media repeated the claim of weapons-manufacturer Almaz-Antey that Russia could not have been involved in the tragedy, as Russia had no BUK-M1 missiles in its arsenal. (Almaz-Antey manufactures the missiles, the type generally believed to have been used to shoot down MH17.) It was reported by Russia’s First Channel, Russia 24, and Nezavisimoe Voennoe Obozrenie, among others.

In early June 2015, Almaz-Antey representatives presented a study finding that the passenger plane was brought down by an anti-aircraft guided missile that could only have been fired from a position within Ukrainian. The rationale was that the BUK-M1 was no longer used by the Russian military, while it was still in use by the Ukrainian.

Statement by Almaz-Antey

Statement by Almaz-Antey, tass.ru

This theory first appeared in Russian media in October 2014. At that time it was based on a letter, supposedly intercepted by CyberBerkut hackers.

But the fact that the BUK-M1 is no longer officially used by the Russian military hardly means that there are none remaining in its arsenal, or that the missiles could not have been transferred to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. It is also worth noting that after its annexation of Crimea in March 2014, Russia gained access to BUK-M1 missiles from Ukraine’s stockpile.

Lifenews story about BUKs in Crimea

Lifenews story about BUKs in Crimea

But the claim that the BUK-M1 was decommissioned is Russia also seems questionable. On March 6, 2014, TASS reported that Russia’s Western Command used the missiles during maneuvers.

TASS on Russian air defense excersises

TASS on Russian air defense excersises

In Vladikavkaz, the capital of Northern Ossetia in the Russian Federation, BUK-M1 missiles were displayed during a military parade on May 9, 2015, as reported by Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Victory Day 2015 in Vladikavkaz

Victory Day 2015 in Vladikavkaz

There is another photo from the International Expo of military armament, equipment, and weapons from September 2013 in Nizhniy Tagil, Russia, during which the capabilities of the BUK-M1 were showcased.

Military Expo 2013 in Nizhniy Tagil

Military Expo 2013 in Nizhniy Tagil

The RF Ministry of Defense meanwhile reported on April 29, 2013, that anti-aircraft gunners of of the Russian Western Command had successfully completed training exercises in Kapustin Yar, where “they executed fighting firing practice on pinpoint targets from surface-to-air BUK-M1 missile systems.”

Military excercise reported on web-site of Russia's Ministry of Defense

Military excercise reported on web-site of Russia’s Ministry of Defense

Only in late 2013 did Ria Novosti report that “there is a planned rearmament from BUK-M1s to BUK-M2s, and in the future they will be getting BUK-M3, starting from 2016.”

RIA Novosti about BUK rearmament

RIA Novosti about BUK rearmament

Representatives of the armed separatist groups in eastern Ukraine continue to deny that they had BUK-M1 missiles on July 17, 2014. The “ex-prime minister of the DPR” Eduard Basurin made this claim to Lifenews on July 17, 2015. Stopfake.org has already debunked such claims in the past.

StopFake.org