In 2014, a hybrid war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine had diverse character. It was not enough to supply weapons, equipment, mercenaries and even military personnel through the uncontrolled areas of the Russian-Ukrainian border in order to execute the plans of annexation and holding of a territory. The Russian military command has repeatedly resorted the undisguised aggression conducting the attacks on the Ukrainian troops from the territory of Rostov Oblast. This OSINT-investigation of the InformNapalm international volunteer community presents another fact based on which all the mentioned figurants can become witnesses and defendants of the future military tribunals.
Ruslan Khafizov (on June 10, 1984) is a figurant of our investigation. He graduated from the Kazan Higher Artillery Command School named after marshal of artillery M.N. Chistyakov (page in ‘VK’, ‘My World’ page and the photo album). Based on the information posted by himself in the social network, Khafizov is an officer of the Russian Armed Forces and has a captain rank. He serves in the missile artillery battalion of the 18th separate motorized rifle brigade (military unit No. 27777, deployed in Khankala and Kalinovskaya, Republic of Chechnya). These conclusions were made based on the following information – obtained military education and analysis of the photos where Ruslan is in the uniform in front of the military equipment. We draw your attention to the collar insignia on the field and parade uniform, the badge ‘For Service in the Caucasus’ and chevron of the 18th separate motorized rifle brigade.
In the summer of 2014, Ruslan Khafizov’s unit got an assignment to move to Rostov Oblast in order to conduct the ‘exercises’. We were able to establish the dispositions of his unit using the photos’ geotags. Note that they were located between the Kuybyshevo and Novoshakhtinsk settlements at a distance of about 10 km from the border of Ukraine. The photos below were uploaded to the photo album in October of 2014. However, judging by the color of vegetation and brown skin of the war criminals, it seems that all these photos were made in the summer. It just proves that the ‘assignment’ ended in October of 2014.
Also at one of the photos Khafizov ‘exposed’ the military machines (2B26, ‘Grad’ MLRS mounted on KAMAZ-5350 and CSV) on the route march near the Kryukovo village. It is noteworthy that there are no any registration numbers on the automotive equipment.
The photo below is the most interesting photo from our point of view. Here are three 2B26 machines in the firing position and fully ammo charged (in the beginning of February, 2016, volunteers of the InformNapalm already recorded these machines in the Ukrainian territory, so you can find more details here). We were able to determine the exact location (northeast of the Novaya Nadezhda settlement) and the direction of aiming for firing thanks to the presence of geotag and reference points in the photo.
For reference: ‘Grad’ MLRS depending on the type of missiles can hit targets at distances up to 20 km and with the new ammo (like 9M521) up to 40 km. The screenshots below show the direction of aiming, the presumable impact point when shooting at maximum range, as well as the impact zone in case of change the fire direction.
We remind you that in the summer of 2014 the Russian Armed Forces actively used cannon and missile artillery for striking Ukraine from Rostov Oblast. The one of the most famous cases was the shelling from the town of Gukovo. You can find more details in the article “Positions of the ‘Grad’ MLRS, which Fired on the Ukrainian Territory from the Russian Federation, Have Been Determined” (RU). Also, analyzing the summary of the events in July-August 2014, we found the evidence of the MLRS attacks on the positions of the 79th airmobile brigade near the Dyakove and Bobrykove villages (more details are available here (RU) and here (UK)). It is clear from the screenshot above that all these settlements also were in the impact zone of the Khafizov’s unit. In addition, on July 19, 2014, the positions of ATO forces near the state border between Ukraine and Russia were shelled three times during the day. This was announced by Dmitry Tymchuk, the Head of the ‘Information resistance’ group. The shelling was carried out from the Russian territory using ‘Grad’ MLRS and mortars. The firing positions of the Russian combat crews, which attacked the Ukrainian forces, were located near the Novaya Nadezhda settlement (Rostov Oblast, Russia). Afterwards, Pavlo Klimkin, the Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, called the shelling of the Ukrainian territory as an act of the Russian aggression (the source is UNN – RU).
The one of the interesting moments in our investigation is the fact of awarding the captain Khafizov with the state military awards in a peacetime:
- the ‘Medal of Suvorov’
- the ‘Cross of Saint George 4th class’
Perhaps, Khafizov obtained these awards for the participation in the aggression against Georgia in 2008 (Ruslan graduated in 2007), when he was still a ‘fresh’ lieutenant. Nevertheless, it is likely that he got it for participating in the hybrid war against Ukraine. All investigations of the InformNapalm team, which mention awarding the Russian soldiers for participating in the combat operations in Ukraine, can be found here. The photo below, where Khafizov is in the parade uniform, presumably was made on May 9, 2015.
Based on the contact list and group photo from the Rostov assignment three artillery officers have been identified. Ruslan Satdinov (born on January 22, 1985) graduated from the Kazan Higher Artillery Command School named after marshal of artillery M.N. Chistyakov (his page in VK and photo album).
These are the investigations of the InformNapalm team where figured the 18th separate motorized rifle brigade of the Russian Federation’s armed forces:
- 3 Trips From the 18th Brigade to Donbas — ‘Cherchez la femme’
- ‘Putin’s Eleven’ — Selfie Soldiers of 18th Russian Motorized Rifles Brigade in Donbas
- A Story Behind the Photo: Separatist Leader Pavel Gubarev and the Russian 18th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade
- Tanks of the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade in Ukraine