We identified the scouts of the 17th Motorized Rifle Brigade (MRB) of Russian Army, who took part in combat operations in the Donbas in the summer and fall of 2014.
The 17th MRB (military unit 65384, stationed in Shali, Chechnya, part of the 58th Army of the Southern Military District of Russia), appeared in sight of InformNapalm volunteer intelligence community more than once. There are reliable evidences that the battalion-tactical group (BTG) of this unit was one of the first participants of an undeclared war against Ukraine during the summer-fall campaign of 2014 and suffered significant losses.
Our materials contain information about Russian officers and contract soldiers of the 17th MRB, who took part in the initial phase of the Russian aggression in Donbas in 2014, as well as about this brigade’s servicemen, who joined the illegal armed groups (IAG) of Novorossia later, in 2015-2016.
The main sources of information for the new OSINT investigation, like in many other cases, are the social media accounts of the Russian military men where they show off pictures reflecting their “Rostov-Ukraine missions”. Thus, during monitoring of social networks pages, we found a profile of the contract soldier of the 17th MRB, who in the summer and fall of 2014 took part in the Donbas hostilities.
Subjects of the investigation:
1. Rustam Ragimov
Born 3/24/1993, Originally from Gelendzhik, Krasnodar Krai.
He did his conscript military service in 2012-2013 in the 19th MRB (military unit 20634, Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia–Alania, South Military District). In April 2014, already in status of contract soldier, he was appointed to scout-machine gunner position in military unit 65384.
Judging by the timeline and geotagging of the photos uploaded to Ragimov’s album, after entering the contract service, short adaptation and retraining in early July 2014, he was sent to the Rostov Oblast within the BTG of the 17th MRB. From July to September 2014, he took part in the combat operations in Donbas within same BTG.
Even today, in Ragimov’s album there are photos from July – September 2014 (the Rostov-Ukraine deployment period), where he and his colleagues posed in full gear, wearing irregular uniforms and ubiquitous St. George’s ribbons.
But our attention was drawn to the picture captioned “machine gunners“, which looked familiar to InformNapalm investigators. More than that, we succeeded to identify other Russian military men, who are posing in this photo from September 2014.
Note: In the fall of 2014 we started monitoring the page of a Russian contract serviceman Denis Petrikin, photos from whose album were used in one of our publications in September 2014. Then we wrote that the unit from the 8th MRB (military unit 16544, Borzoi, Chechnya), represented by D. Petrikin, was spotted at the base camp of the Russian invasion forces in Rostov Oblast, bordering Ukraine, from which that unit made forays into Ukrainian territory. In the light of new information, it is safe to say that Petrikin represented not the 8th MRB but the 17th MRB from the same region – Chechnya. The 17th MRB, along with the 8th MRB, actively participated in the hostilities in Donbas in the summer and fall of 2014.
2. Denis Petrikin
Born: 1989. Originally from Stavropol.
As of 2014, a contract soldier of the 17th MRB.
The photos from Petrikin’s album are remarkably valuable, most of them have geotags. His album contains photos from the base camp of the Russian invasion forces in the Myasnikovsky District, Rostov Oblast, as well as from the camp of Russian troops deployed in close proximity to the Ukrainian border, in the Kuybyshevsky District of the same Rostov Oblast.
3. Valeriy Mezin
Born 4/23/1993, Originally from Gelendzhik, Krasnodar Krai.
He did his conscript service in 2012-2013 in the 10th Separate Special Forces Brigade of GRU (military unit 51532, Goryachy Klyuch city, Molkin settlement, Krasnodar Krai, South Military District). As of 2014 he was a contract soldier of the military unit 65384.
Accounts on social networks: VK1 (archived profile, photos, contacts), the profile was abandoned in November 2013. VK2 (archived profile, photos, contacts), last activity spotted in May 2014; ОK (archived profile, photos, contacts), inactive since December 2016..
4. Machine gunner “X”
The identity of the fourth machine-gunner not yet established.
P.S. InformNapalm continues the analysis of abovementioned investigation subjects’ pages. New findings will be given in following publications.
· The structure and armament of the 17th MRB.
The 17th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade, military unit 65384 (Shali, Chechnya)..
Composition: the Command, 3 mechanized infantry battalions, special forces battalion, separate sniper company, tank battalion, the 1st self-propelled howitzer artillery battalion, the 2nd self-propelled howitzer artillery battalion, rocket artillery battalion, antitank artillery battalion, antiaircraft artillery battalion, antiaircraft missile battalion, reconnaissance battalion, UAV company, engineer battalion, NBC protection company, control (communication) battalion, EW company, control and artillery reconnaissance battery (of the artillery commander), control and radar reconnaissance platoon (of air defense commander), control platoon (of reconnaissance commander), maintenance battalion, logistics battalion, headquarters company, medical company, instructors platoon, training simulator platoon, training range, brass band.
Armament: 40 pcs. T-72B3, 1 pc. T-72BK, 159 pcs. MT-LBM 6MB and MT-LB VMK; 6 pcs. GAZ-233014 Tigr (IMV), 18 pcs. BM-21 Grad MLRS, 36 pcs. 2S19 Msta-S 152-mm self-propelled howitzers; 18 pcs. 2S12 Sani 120-mm mortar, 12 pcs. MT-12 Rapira 100mm anti-tank guns, 12pcs; 9P149 Shturm-S self-propelled anti-tank missile systems, 11 pcs. BTR-80, 4 pcs. BRDM-2, 12 pcs. 9A33BM2(3) Osa surface-to-air missile systems (SAM) – 6 pcs.; 9A34(35) Strela-10 armored vehicle surface-to-air missile system, 6 pcs. 2S6M Tunguska self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, 27 pcs. 9K38 Igla man portable surface-to-air missiles.
The 17th MRB featured in 13 episodes of our community investigations, mostly in publications, related to the facts of invasion and involvement in the hostilities in the Donbas in summer – autumn 2014. But there is evidence of later participation of contract servicemen from this brigade in Donbas war:
- The 17th Motorized Rifle Brigade of the Southern Military District of the Russian Federation is in Ukraine2014-09-09
- “Tankman”: Russian Officer of the 17th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade Who Participated in Armed Hostilities in Donbas2014-10-13
- “Inglourious Basterds”: a monument to the soldiers of the 17th Mechanized Infantry Brigade in Shali 2015-02-06
- Officer of the Russian 17th Motorized Rifle Brigade Awarded Order of Courage for the Donbas War2015-06-18
- 2S19 ‘Msta-S’ Self-Propelled Howitzer of the 17th Brigade near Novoazovsk2015-08-12
- The 17th Brigade in Donbas in Summer, 2014. Photo proofs2015-04-27
- Another ‘Hybrid Miner’ from the Russian 17th Brigade2016-02-10
- Veterans of Donbas from the 17th Mechanized Infantry Brigade and their Orders of Courage07/12/2016
- Russian officer who lost his Order of Courage09/12/2016
- “F#cked-up brigade” – former contract soldier about 17th MRB of the Russian Army (Video) 2016-10-07
- Identified: infantrymen from Chechnya in Donbas 2016-12-02
- Identified: tankman of the 17th MRB Russian Army – fought in Donbas, was awarded Medal for Courage 2017-01-04
- Russian tankman gave away colleagues from the 17th Motorized Rifle Brigade in Donbas 2017-01-09
Databases of the Russian servicemen and evidence of the participation of the Russian hybrid forces in the war in Ukraine are available here: https://informnapalm.org/en/category/top-investigations/.
This publication was prepared on the basis of an OSINT investigation of InformNapalm volunteer intelligence community. Author Irakli Komaxidze . Evgeniy Kalashnik, edited by Artem Velichko
(CC BY) Information specially prepared for InformNapalm.org site, an active link to the authors and our project is obligatory for any reprint or further use of the material.
We call on our readers to actively share our publications on social networks. Broad public awareness of these investigations is a major factor in the information and actual warfare.