The Soviet Deception of the location of KAL 007’s Water Landing
On September 1, 1983, a Soviet Air Defense Forces Su-15 interceptor downed Korean Air Lines Flight 007 carrying 269 passengers and crew just west of the Soviet island of Sakhalin and in international waters. The Soviets at first denied knowing anything about it being downed, then admitted that they had downed an aircraft but that it was a U.S. spy plane that they had attacked, a RC-135, and then admitted that it was indeed a passenger plane belonging to South Korea that they had downed but that the aircraft was on an espionage mission. Throughout the changing stories, the Soviets maintained that the Soviet Union had no knowledge where the plane finally went down, and that they were no closer than the U.S. and the rest of the world in determining its location and its fate.
At his Sept. 9, 1983 press conference, Marshal of the Soviet Union and Chief of General Staff Ogarkov stated:
“We could not give the precise answer about the spot where it [KAL 007] fell because we ourselves did not know the spot in the first place. And as for assertions in the Western Press that the U.S.S.R. is hindering searches by the U.S., Japanese, or any other forces, that does not correspond to reality at all…”
But the General was lying on two counts:
· The Russians had indeed hindered the United States and other forces from searching for KAL 007 The Soviet/ U.S naval confrontation .
· The Russians knew the exact spot where KAL 007 was to be found. This was the only land mass in the whole Tatar Strait, 4 ½ mile long, 3 ½ mile wide Moneron Island. Moneron Island was 42 miles from the Sakhalin Island port of Nevelsk, and 24 miles from the nearest point of Sakhalin, and was in Soviet territorial waters.
Flight 007 had crossed the Kamchatka Peninsula from the North East, traversed the international waters of the Sea of Okhotsk, and entered over Sakhalin Island from Terpinee Bay in Sakhalin’s North East. The Soviet real-time military communications of the shoot down of KAL 007 and its aftermath, handed over to the International Civil Aviation Organization in 1992 by the Russian Federation, for the first time revealed the deception of the Soviets.
Gen. Anatoly Kornukov: (6:24)
Comrade General, Kornukov, good morning, I am reporting the situation. Target 60-65 [KAL 007] is over Terpinee Bay tracking 240, 3 km from the state border, the fighter from Sokol is 6 km away. Locked on…
KAL 007 was flying in a south westerly direction and two minutes prior to being struck by a missile had almost traversed Sakhalin Island and was about to fly out into international waters of the Tatar Strait.
Gen. Kornukov: (6:24)
Oh, [obscenities], how long [does it take him] to go to attack position, he is already getting out into neutral waters. Engage afterburner immediately. Bring in the MiG 23 as well,... While you are wasting time, it will fly right out.
And it is clear that from two minutes after missile strike, beginning at 6:28 a.m., that KAL 007 has survived the attack and is maneuverable. Six minutes after this, at 6:34, is the time of first indication that the Russians knew KAL 007’s exact location – spiraling down once again in Soviet territory over Moneron Island.
Lt. Col. Gerasimenko: (6:34)
Turning left, right, apparently it is descending.
Gen. Kornukov: (6:36)
It is over Moneron.
Flight Controller Titovnin: (6:38)
Descending… and lost over Moneron.
KAL 007 had, thus, once again entered Soviet territorial waters.
Lt. Col. Novoseletski: (6:38)
So, the task. They say it has violated the State border again now?
Flight Controller Titovnin:
Well, it is the area of Moneron, of course, over our territory.
Lt. Col. Novoseletski:
Get it! Get it! Go ahead, bring in the MiG 23.
It is clear that the Russian military commanders considered Soviet territorial Moneron Island itself, not international waters to the North where it had joined the U.S., Japanese, and South Korean vessels in the search for KAL 007, to be the site of KAL 007’s expected set down. And, it was to Moneron Island itself that Gen. Strogov at 29 minutes after missile strike, directed nearby ships.
Gen. Strogov: (6:55)
What ships do we have near Moneron Island, if they are civilian, send [them] there immediately.
It is evident from the above, that, from the very first moments after the attack, top Soviet military commanders, beginning at the apex with the deputy commander of the Soviet Far East Military District, General Strogov, knew that KAL 007 was alive and well and knew precisely its location – four 1/2miles long, three ½ mile wide Moneron Island. We may, therefore, conclude that the Soviet’s search and subsequent salvage operation, mainly in international waters to the north of Moneron Island, was intentionally misleading and an audacious ruse – successful beyond all expectation!
This ruse and pretense of searching by the Soviet Union is well authenticated by the following:
In 1992, Russian president Boris Yeltsin disclosed five top-secret memos dating from late 1983, within weeks of the downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007. These memos were published in the Soviet news magazine, Izvestia #228, October 16, 1992, shortly after being made public. They contain the Soviet's own recording (from KGB head Viktor Chebrikov and Defence Minister Dmitri Ustinov to Premier of Soviet Union Yuri Andropov) of their deception of the U.S. fleet and the world, confirming that while they were pretending to search and while they were harassing the U.S. fleet, they already knew where KAL 007 was, had already boarded her, and had secured for themselves the sought after "Black Box":
"Simulated search efforts in the Sea of Japan are being performed by our vessels at present in order to dis-inform the US and Japan. These activites will be discontinued in accordance with a specific plan...
"...Therefore, if the flight recorders shall be transferred to the western countries their objective data can equally be used by the USSR and the western countries in proving the opposite view points on the nature of the flight of the South Korean airplane. In such circumstances a new phase in anti-Soviet hysteria cannot be excluded.
"In connection with all mentioned above it seems highly preferable not to transfer the flight recorders to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) or any third party willing to decipher their contents. The fact that the recorders are in possession of the USSR shall be kept secret...
"As far as we are aware neither the US nor Japan has any information on the flight recorders. We have made necessary efforts in order to prevent any disclosure of the information in future.
"Looking to your approval.
"____ December 1983"
(From Top Secret Memos disclosed in 1992 by Boris Yeltsin and published in Izvestia, #228, Oct. 16, 1992., Cited in Christopher Andrew, "KGB Foreign Intelligence from Brezhnev to the Coup," Intelligence and National Security, vol. 8, no. 3 (July 1993), p. 60." and by Benjamin B. Fischer,Center for the Study of Intelligence (CIA), A Cold War Conundrum, 1997)
The latest indirect but powerful support for the contention the the Soviets deceived the West by pretending to search for KAL 007 while they knew exactly where the passenger was to be found comes from an official of the Russian Federation itself. Mikhail Prozumentshchikov, Deputy Director of the Russian State Archives of Recent History comments on the shooting down of KAL 007 in RIA Novosti, September 1, 2003--the twentieth anniversary of the tragedy.
"Large numbers of American, Japanese and Soviet planes and ships concentrated in the area of the incident. They did not so much as co-operate to look for the remnants of the airliner as interfered with each other's efforts and even deliberately provoked each other (US ships repeatedly announced in Russian that if Soviet planes flew over them, they would be shot down). But since the USSR, for natural reasons, KNEW BETTER WHERE THE BOEING HAD BEEN DOWNED [emphasis added], and also thanks to a wind blowing towards the Soviet coast, the principal exhibits from the sunken plane came into Soviet hands... Even with deepwater ships available to the USSR and the US, it was very problematical to retrieve anything, ESPECIALLY AS THE USSR WAS NOT PARTICULARLY INTERESTED [emphasis added]."
This statement acknowledges Soviet knowledge of the plane's location and their efforts to mislead the US and other nations while perpetuating the ruse that they were looking for the crash themselves
When did the Soviets access the downed KAL 007
- The Soviet Dec., 1983 top secret memos, reflecting the information supplied by the military echelon to the political echelon, give the date as October 20, 1983.
- In the 1991 Izvestia series on KAL 007, the date that the Soviet civilian divers give for their first dive to KAL 007, earlier than the date given in the Soviet top secret memos, is September 15, 1983
- The dates for the Soviet military divers from Soviet Gavan going down to visit KAL 007, as given by the later civilian divers teams from Svestapol and Murmansk are beginning sometime prior to Sept. 15 and ending at that date.
- The date that the Soviet real-time military communications give for the first air (rescue helicopters) and sea missions (KGB patrol boats, civilian trawlers, and naval vessels) to Moneron Island, the earliest of all date assigning - September 1, the day of the shootdown, within 1/2 hour of the attack.
Despite, the now disclosed and documented deception of the KAL 007's true set down site within Soviet territorial waters, and the Soviet self disclosed deception of the West in beginning and maintaining a search for KAL 007 in international waters far from the true location while they already knew where KAL 007 was and had gutted the aircraft of its black boxes, and despite the Russian military communications pinpointing the true set down site of Moneron Island and the disclosure of Soviet mission orders involving the sending to Moneron Island within 1/2 hour of the shoot down, rescue helicopters, KGB patrol boats and civilian trawlers(see KAL 007: Soviet stalk, shoot down, and rescue mission orders transcripts), nothing has been done by any nation or international body to investigate the reports that have surfaced in the intervening years of survivors to this great tragedy. Among the 269 passengers and crew of KAL 007 were a sitting Congressman Larry McDonald and 22 children under the age of 12 years.
- KAL 007: Soviet stalk, shoot down, and rescue mission orders transcripts
- KAL 007 and the Soviet Top Secret Memos
- KAL 007/ Russian Ram attempt
- Soviet deception in the search for KAL 007: a seaman's testimony
- Moneron Island
- Korean Airlines Flight 007
- KAL 007: The Russian Explanations for the Missing Bodies
- Soviet diver to KAL 007 says no bodies, no luggage
- The KAL 007 related Soviet/ U.S naval confrontation