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Lorry load

Thursday 1am (Ukraine time): A low-loading lorry carrying a radar-controlled missile system — known by the Russians as the Buk-M1 and by Nato forces as the SA-11 Gadfly — crosses the Russian border and enters Ukraine. The system has four missiles capable of shooting down aircraft flying at up to 72,000ft but it cannot tell between military and civilian planes

The launcher crosses the porous border with Russia near the village of Sukhodolsk

A team of three to six Russian military operators accompanies the vehicle

Potential targets for the missiles were Ukrainian military transport aircraft being used to re-supply government troops

9am: The launcher reaches the city of Donetsk, the rebels’ stronghold and command centre

The lorry receives an escort of T-72 tanks and armoured personnel carriers and heads east

(Ukraine officials provided unverified and edited intercepts of purported conversations between “Sergei Nikolaevich Petrovskiy”, a Russian military intelligence officer codenamed “Khmuryi”, and a rebel fighter codenamed “Buryat”)

Buryat: “Where should we load this cutie?”

Khmuryi: “Is it what I’m thinking about?”

Buryat: “Yes, Buk. Buk.”

During a separate exchange between Khmuryi and another fighter codenamed “Sanych”, one of the men says: “The point is that my Buk-M will go with your people.”)

Around 4pm: The missile, by now commanded by a junior rebel officer nicknamed “Miner”, stops near the village of Pervomaysk

Shortly afterwards, its radar system detects a large aircraft flying at high altitude

4.10pm: A Russian operator reports the aircraft to Miner

Miner, mistaking the Boeing 777 for a Ukrainian AN-26 transporter, gives the fateful order to fire, according to the Ukrainian officials

4.21pm: The last time when the location of Malaysian Flight MH-17 was tracked

4.40pm: A militia leader, Igor Bezler, claims in a widely reported audio intercept: “We have just shot down a plane. That was Miner’s group....”

11pm: The Buk system starts moving towards the Russian border

11.30pm: The team leader receives a phone call from a rebel leader and the vehicle disappears back into Russia.