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Saturday, March 26, 2022

Another Missile Misfire in Kiev

March 26, 2022

(rough, incomplete)

When it happened before

Early on in the Russian campaign in Ukraine, I analyzed a terrible missile strike in Kiev, Feb. 26, that probably killed more than the zero people reported. This is a famous scene still pushed as a Russian crime. 

Anyone who doesn't know, we can be fairly sure that was a Ukrainian surface-air missile that malfunctioned and slammed into an apartment tower.  The Russians always said so, FWIW, and so did several informed observers, and the evidence supports that as well.  

The missile's exhaust plume was seen from launch to impact in two publicized videos. See composite view below, from a wide video pan. The plume is widely considered to be consistent with a SAM, and the unusual bend where the stage 2 liquid fuel failed to ignite fully (?), it turns horizontal with a weak plume and begins to fall, then maybe ignites more fully at the end for the final explosive dive into that tower. 

Monitor on Massacre Marketing: Triangulating the Source of Kiev Apartment Missile Attack (libyancivilwar.blogspot.com)

The launch was clearly just outside of, or perhaps within Kyiv city limits, where no Russian forces were known to be. Two views of the plume, both of which I geolocated myself, and two carefully set lines of sight allowed a clear placement of that launch on a loop off the highway, about 1.5 km from Sikorsky airport, where SAM defenses would be likely. Russia was blamed only vaguely, but deaths were denied, even CNN's Clarissa Ward could see it might be a Ukrainian accident ... what more should we need to know?

A Misfire in March

The Re-Surfaced Video

Now we have a second such video, with several postings on and since March 18. It's easy to take this as a new view of the February incident, but it was actually a less new view of a later incident. Here is a composite view from two frames.  

SOme recent postings on Twitter:






I think all come pre-stamped with that KAK TO TAK. If anyone finds a different version, let me know. 

But to start, this is not a new video. It was on my to-do list for about a week before these postings, after Chris Kbusk, another sharp-eyed observer, brought me that composite frame AND what seems to be another view of the same plume, on March 10 (mid-day here, would be night in Kiev). He showed me both scenes already geolocated to suggest launch and impact area, after finding them, seemingly new,  but were already impossible toa day or so earlier. But he couldn't re-locate them when we talked about it on the 10th, as if they were quickly removed (or just hard to find).  

He had asked for my thoughts - it took a while to come back to it, double-check the work, and assemble this post, and in the meantime the video resurfaced. I checked the work and it's good - somewhat re-created here with some open questions below in a try at crowd-sourcing for the relevance of this finding. 

Plume view 1: location: 50.389606° 30.464330° - roughly a corner apartment in that block, with a view to the west and northwest - map labels agree with this basic color-coding. Note building in white is absent from the satellite views I used - built since then, but with a lot already marked out.

Note the long shadows of morning, with a solar azimuth (shadow line up the middle from view building corner to yellow building corner) which I read as ~122.5 = about 8:35-8:40 AM (NOAA solcalc), if this was on March 10, or about the same on prior days. 

Below is a sort-of sharpened view of the plume - up steeply, then a sharp bend into a semi-circle, for a sickle-shaped start, then it's almost invisible for a while before it re-appears, wiggling lower for a long ways before it hits - a small-seeming dark gray mushroom cloud means it detonated in the city, causing damage. Distances are hard to gauge right off, but it seems the impact spot seems to be a bit further from the camera than the launch spot is. 

Impact line of sight: to the NW, across nearby buildings, the Sikorsky airport's open airfield, what must be the next sizeable building, the main terminal, and that plume is rising probably not far behind that tallest building I found, marked gold = Mykoly Shepeljeva St, 5 (Google Maps) - somewhere north-northwest of there.

Below is a close view of that line in orange, marked where it seemed to cross two nearby buildings, one of which wasn't even built in the satellite view I used. Also the line to launch spot traced in yellow in a similar way. They meet nicely in a space not quite where the camera was, so this isn't exact. 

After that, the yellow line extended - note how close it comes to the Feb. 26 launch spot.

The Alternate View
As I said above, there was also a second image of the same plume ... just a screen grab provided, with red box already added. Possibly more on the source...

Chris already geolocated this to the railroad tracks just meters from the Feb. 26 launch spot. It's a bit of a vague spot, but almost certainly the one - as provided, not oriented to north - here I'd pin a spot just across the tracks as a nearest possible point AT that level, with what happens below less clear (white shape gives just some idea), with a middle option lined up with the trees and scrub there, to establish lines of sight - yellow, to launcher - and a white line to a spot roughly beneath the plume when it vanishes:

We can see the plume for a ways here, but not to impact. At first, it curves a bit towards the camera and right, turns left towards the camera and finally to almost straight ahead up the tracks - as seen above, it visibly fades away after that hook, and it must do the same here, and we just see more of that curve from this angle - here, it seems to be aiming up the tracks at last sight, but it's hard to follow from there - in the full mapping below, a white line traces to where we can't see it. From there, it must angle more to the left than you'd think to line up with the seen plume.

this could allow a similar launcher placement ... I hesitated over the possible blowback of disclosing air defense locations, especially noting how the images seem to have vanished. But these systems are mobile for a reason, this video is out there anyway, and the Russians probably can already say where these things ARE, not just where they were back on March 9 or so. It is a slightly different spot from the one used Feb. 26, but very close, apparently a the cloverleaf exchange, SW part (red vs. pink for the earlier spot). Do they always launch from around there, or only these misfires?

Open questions

Can anyone find a posting of that video anywhere on March 10 or earlier? Or even before March 18? That would help clarify how it predates the recent postings. Or does anyone know of reports or images that might correlate? Again, the established details to spark a memory or guide a search: 

* a missile impact on this area of Kiev: near Sikorsky airport, perhaps called Vidradnyi district

* On March 8-10, or possibly earlier

* in the morning, around 8:30-8:45, if a time is specified 

* especially anything with visuals. 

I'm curious how was this sold, if at all. But even with a few hours digging, I didn't find a likely match-up yet. One possibility at least worth suggesting:

3/11 Russian missile in Kyiv. Had not reached the target.


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