Siberia Airlines Flight 1812: Wikis


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Siberia Airlines Flight 1812
Occurrence summary
Date 4 October 2001 (2001-10-04)
Type suspected shootdown by a surface-to-air missile
Site Black Sea
Passengers 66
Crew 12
Injuries 0
Fatalities 78
Survivors 0
Aircraft type Tupolev-154M
Operator Siberia Airlines
Tail number RA-85693
Flight origin Ben Gurion International Airport,
Tel Aviv, Israel
Destination Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport,
Novosibirsk, Russia

Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 crashed over the Black Sea on 4 October 2001, en route from Tel Aviv, Israel to Novosibirsk, Russia. The plane, a Soviet-made Tupolev Tu-154, carried an estimated 66 passengers and 12 crew members. No one on board survived. The crash site is some 120 miles (190 km) west-southwest of the Black Sea resort of Sochi and 90 miles (140 km) north of the Turkish coastal town of Fatsa and 220 miles (350 km) miles east-southeast of Feodosiya, Ukraine.


Initial information

The Russian ground control center in Sochi suddenly lost contact with the airliner. Soon, the pilot of an Armenian plane crossing the sea nearby reported seeing the Russian plane explode before it crashed into the sea about 1:45 PM Moscow time (9:45 AM GMT).[1]

Claim of missile strike and initial reaction

Occurring less than a month after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the crash was initially thought to be an act of terrorism. Nicholas Esterhazy, in an editorial in the Johns Hopkins Newsletter, speculated that, while Israeli and Russian intelligence immediately suspected a terrorist attack, US intelligence, due to fear of the mass hysteria that would surround yet another terrorist attack just weeks after September 11th, reported that the crash was due to an errant S-200 (also known in the West as an SA-5 Gammon) surface to air missile fired as part of a Ukrainian Air Defense Forces exercise staged off Cape Onuk (or Chuluk) in Crimea. Esterhazy considered this hypothesis unlikely due to the missile's range and safety-features.[2] He noted that the missile, with a range of 240 km (185 miles) could not have struck the plane which was more than 320 km away from the missile launch site.[3]

Russian officials initially dismissed the American claim as "unworthy of attention,"[4] and Russian President Vladimir Putin told the press the next day that "the weapons used in those exercises had such characteristics that make it impossible for them to reach the air corridor through which the plane was moving."[5] Ukrainian military officials initially denied that their missile had brought down the plane; They reported that the S-200 had been launched seawards and had successfully self-destructed. Indeed, Defense Ministry spokesman Konstantin Khivrenko noted that "Neither the direction nor the range [of the missiles] correspond to the practical or theoretical point at which the plane exploded."[6]

Subsequent Investigation

The following investigation conducted by Russian air safety officials discovered that the wreckage bore damage similar to that caused by the distinctive spherical shrapnel produced by the S-200. Also the timing of both the launch and the crash were reported matching.

Despite that, the Ukrainian military at first insisted that the launch was completed according to the exercise plan, supported by video shot from the command post. But later the government of Ukraine officially recognized its military's fault in the accident and started negotiating compensation payments for victims' relatives.

On 20 November 2003, the compensation agreement was signed between the governments of Ukraine and Israel. It was later ratified by the relatives of the victims who agreed to the conditions. In addition to compensation issues, the agreement has stated that "Ukraine is not legally responsible for the accident that occurred to the plane and free of any obligations regarding it". Commenting on the agreement, Gen. Oleksandr Kuz'muk, the ex-Minister of Defense sacked after the accident, told media that "the payments were a humane action, not the admittance of guilt".

Some Russian relatives of the crash victims refused to accept the compensation conditions offered by Ukraine. They brought a civil suit against the Ukrainian government to Pechers'ky local court in Kiev. During the court hearings, the government representatives stated that the airplane "could not be brought down by a Ukrainian missile" according to the radar data. They also questioned the conclusions of the Russian-conducted investigation, calling them "mathematically modeled, but not proven by evidence". They argued that the Soviet-made Identification friend or foe system of the missile in question would have prevented it from striking the Soviet-made airliner. The lawyer representing the plaintiffs argued in media that the fault of the Ukrainian government was effectively proven by the fact that it negotiated the compensations for Israeli relatives of the victims.

On 21 June 2004, the spokesperson of Ukraine's General Prosecution Office stated that none of the 11 forensic examinations carried out so far have proven the fact of hitting the Tupolev-154 by a Ukrainian missile so the criminal investigation continued.


Chief of Staff of Ukrainian Air Defense Forces

The Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander of the Air Defense Forces at the time of the incident was General Valeri Kamenski. General Kamenski had been the Commander of the Soviet Far East Military District Air Defense Force at the time of the Sept. 1, 1983 shooting down of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 with a complement of 269 passengers and crew, including Georgia congressman Larry McDonald. Kamenski had given the order for the shootdown even if KAL 007 was over neutral waters, though in prohibited air space.[7]. In a March 15, 2001 interview[8], Kamenski opined that such a shootdown of a civilian passenger plane could not happen again in view of the changing political conditions and alliances. Shortly after his interview, Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 was downed and on his watch.[9]

External links


  1. ^ "Russian jet explodes over Black Sea," BBC News, October 4, 2001; "Black Sea crash wreckage located," BBC News, October 5, 2001.
  2. ^ Nicholas Esterhazy, "Munich revisited: A look into current U.S. foreign policy. For King & Country," Johns Hopkins Newsletter, October 21, 2001.
  3. ^ Esterhazy, "Munich Revisited." On the particulars of the crash, see also Alan Philips and Andrew Sparrow, "Airliner blasted out of sky" Daily Telegraph (October, 2001).
  4. ^ Philips and Sparrow, "Airliner blasted out of sky."
  5. ^ Ibid.
  6. ^ Ibid.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Ukrainian weekly, “Facti I Kommentari”, March 15, 2001

See also

Coordinates: 42°11′N 37°37′E / 42.183°N 37.617°E / 42.183; 37.617


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