Back in March 2016, the Petr and Mazepa website published an interesting article by Serg Marco, called “When the Gods of Artillery Use “Tochka-U.” The article covered the details of the use of the tactical rocket systems 9K79-1 “Tochka-U” (NATO designation SS-21 Scarab B) and multiple launcher rocket systems 9K58 BM-30 “Smerch” by Ukrainian Armed Forces against Russian Army units in the summer of 2014 in Donbas. If the words of the Head of the Ukrainian General Staff Viktor Muzhenko are to be believed, Ukrainian missilemen were delivering devastating blows to the battalion tactical groups of Russian military during the active phase of the Russian intervention in Ukraine. But was this information actually correct?
The volunteers of the international community InformNapalm decided to check this statement by comparing the dates of rocket strikes with the dates of deaths of Russian servicemen or other unusual events in the field of military medicine, since this kind of rocket strikes often results in high numbers of casualties.
On August 13, 2014, the reconnaissance assets attached to the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) headquarters detected a battery of BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers near the town of Snizhne. By the decision of the missile and artillery branch of the ATO headquarters, the 1st Rocket Battalion of the 19th Separate Rocket Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (military unit A4239 based in Khmelnytskyi) conducted a single rocket strike, which destroyed the battery.
We quickly found the confirmation of the deaths of four servicemen of the 17th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the Russian Army (military unit 65384, based in Shali, Chechen Republic) on August 13th, 2014. That confirmation was a memorial stele installed in the territory of the brigade’s base. It said that Sergeant Dmitriy Sergeevich Goncharov, Sergeant Ibragim Arslanbekovich Dzhankhuvatov, Private Ahay Aidemirovich Sajitkhanov, and Private Aleksey Viktorovich Upenok died on August 13, 2014 while “performing their duty”, without specifying the exact causes of deaths (see more in our publication “Inglourious Basterds”: Memorial to Servicemen of the 17th Motor Rifle Brigade at Shali, Chechen Republic.)
One of the subscribers to the Euromaidan twitter account made a good remark about this stele: “Five years passed with no losses, and then sudden August heart attacks start happening”. And somehow those “heart attacks” happened on the exact same day, when the Ukrainian Army conducted a Tochka-U rocket strike against Russian occupants…
Let us look at another episode.
After the loss of Savur-Mohyla, one of Ukrainian scouts, who was leaving the area on foot, found a group of Russian Army troops near the village of Pavlovske, where the road goes to Amvrosiivka. The scout then called his commander and reported the information.
On August 27, 2014, at 10:30am, the camp was attacked by multiple Tochka-U rockets. The scout, positioned near the camp, provided targeting for the strike. It is impossible to evaluate the effectiveness of the strike precisely, however, according to the soldier, the camp was completely destroyed. After the strike, the soldier went towards Ukrainian positions and as late as 7pm he could still hear the sounds of ammunition explosions coming from the direction where the rockets hit the target. Unfortunately, I could not find, which Ukrainian unit conducted the strike, but I think that it was the same 1st RB of the 19th Brigade.
This information reminded us about the report published by the popular Saint-Petersburg media website “Fontanka”: “Eyewitnesses: ‘Ambulance Vehicles Accompanied by Military Moving Through Saint-Petersburg’.
“The readers of “Fontanka” are reporting that ambulance vehicles are moving through the city, accompanied by military traffic police units. The first report was received by the editor’s office at 6:27pm on Wednesday, August 27. ‘7 military ambulances with their emergency lights on and accompanied by military traffic police are moving along Kamennoostrovsky avenue’ – wrote Petersburg resident Pavel. In a phone conversation he specified that the procession was moving from the north, where the military airfield is located. Another report came several hours later and had pictures of the procession attached: ‘Around 9pm we noticed a column of ambulances with emergency lights on and accompanied by military police. They left the military airfield Levashovo and drove in the direction of the city.’ – wrote the reader Sergey in the comments to the pictures he sent. According to the comments “Fontanka” received from the Ministry of Emergency Situations, State Traffic Safety Inspectorate, and ambulance services, there were no registered emergencies in Petersburg on August 27th, which would require this many special vehicles to transport the injured.”
Thus, on August 27, 2014 witnesses saw two columns of ambulances at 6:27pm and 9pm. The first column included 7 ambulance vehicles, while the number of vehicles in the second one wasn’t specified. The ambulances, along with military police units, were moving from the general direction of the military airfield Levashovo, which is the base of the 33rd Separate Combined Air Transport Regiment (including An-72, An-30, and An-26 fixed wing aircraft and Mi-8 helicopters). Based on the information about Russian servicemen we found in hacked mailboxes, we know that the 1602nd Military Clinical Hospital of the Russian Defense Ministry in Rostov-on-Don was used to treat the wounded arriving from the territory of Ukraine, while the more severe cases were transported to the Kirov Military Medical Academy in Saint-Petersburg – for more, see this report.
Most likely, on August 27 the wounded were transported to the military airfield Millerovo (about 90 kilometers driving distance from the location of the rocket strike).
It is also known that after the treatment in the Military Medical Academy the servicemen are transferred to the Branch 14 of the 442nd Military Clinical Hospital in the village of Kamenka in Leningrad Oblast for rehabilitation – see more here. Is this another coincidence?
Another interesting fact: obviously, with the increase in the number of patients, the needs for medical supplies increase too. Let us look at the bid applications made by the Kirov Military Medical Academy.
- August 28, 2014 at 12:38pm, there is an electronic bid application “Kits, instruments, traumatological equipment”. Starting bid is 24 953 217 rubles.
- August 21, 2014 at 12:15pm – application “Hemostatic medications”. Starting bid is 12 300 000 rubles
- August 26, 2014 at 1:00pm – application “Hematopoiesis stimulants”. Starting bid is 13 200 000 rubles.
- August 27, 2014, 2:45pm – application “Materials for bone tissue regeneration”. Starting bid is 1 265 000 rubles.
Let us also take a look at the tenders issued by the 1602nd Mlitary Clinical Hospital in Rostov-on-Don:
- On August 28, 2014, there is an application for “Hemostatic dressing materials”. The sum is 832 000 rubles.
- On September 3, 2014, there is an application for “Nitrofural 0.02% sterile for external application, in 200 ml flasks”. It is used to treat and prevent purulent inflammations, including suppurating wounds and burns of the second and third degrees. The sum is 484 440 rubles.
In August 2014, some Russian regional media reported the deaths of two tankmen from the 21st Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (military unit 12128-zh based in the village of Totskoye-2, Orenburg Oblast, Central Military District). Russian propaganda claimed that Vasiliy Karavayev and Abdulla Ismagilov were killed in the shelling of Rostov Oblast near the border with Ukraine. One of them died on August 27, 2014 (sources – http://archive.is/6ccbm, http://archive.is/fu9o4).
Note that in the end of August 2014 the 21st Brigade lost two T72BA tanks near Starobeshevo on the road between Voznesenka and Gorbatenko in Donetsk Oblast, 20km from Pavlovskoe (details here). Another T-72BA tank was destroyed west of Kumachovo (12km from Pavlovskoe), also in the end of August 2014.
This allows us to assume that the base camp attacked by the “Tochka-U” rocket strike belonged to the 21st Brigade of the Russian Army.
It seems that the August of 2014 was a month of surprisingly tragic coincidences for the 17th and 21st Brigades: this includes deaths of servicemen, who were “performing their duty”, but died under fairly strange circumstances; this also includes casualties transported to a military hospital in Saint-Petersburg, which on the next day had to request new supplies of medications and dressing materials; and there are even tanks which were destroyed in the close proximity of the place of a rocket strike.
As a bonus for our readers here is the video of a “Tochka-U” missile launch by the 19th Rocket Brigade in August 2014 (obscene words present):
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