In July 2016, the situation in the east of Ukraine saw a sharp deterioration. The combined Russian-terrorist forces have stepped up provocative attacks on Ukrainian positions across the line of contact in Donbas. Reports on the killed and wounded Ukrainian soldiers keep coming almost daily from the front line. Official Kremlin continues to deny its involvement in the armed conflict, despite overwhelming evidence of weapons and equipment supply through uncontrolled areas of the Russian-Ukrainian border. Mercenaries with Russian citizenship, under the cover of the Russian Main Intelligence Agency (GRU) and the Federal Security Service (FSB) are receiving training in camps in Rostov region and are being transferred to Ukraine for combat operations. In addition, both military and volunteer intelligence continuously records the presence of the Russian military personnel of individual and combined units of the Russian army in the occupied territory. The international diplomatic pressure and extension of economic sanctions have a significant, but not sufficient impact on the aggressor continuing a hybrid war in eastern Ukraine.
The international volunteer community InformNapalm continues to analyze and publish data found through monitoring of the pages of Russian servicemen on social networks. To date, there is information collected on the participation of military personnel and equipment of 75 structural units of the army and security agencies of Russia in the war against Ukraine (incidents database).
This investigation deals with a new verified episode of servicemen of the 33th Motorized Rifle Brigade of Russian Armed Forces (MRBr, military unit 22179) participating in the war in Ukraine.
In the previous investigation, InformNapalm revealed the presence of military personnel of 33th MRBr in occupied Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Horlivka.
Another object of our investigation, giving away the location of the Russian military, is Vitaly Tupikin from Volgodonsk, posing on social networks under multiple accounts (account 1, account 2). He is so obsessed with the social networks, that he registered an account for his dog. Tupikin’s main profile is in the style of “I’m a militiaman” bravura (archived account, album, contacts). All accounts have a number of shared photos. Our analysis yielded the following findings.
On 28, October 2015, Tupikin posted in his album on the Odnoklassniki social network a photo made in the barracks of his unit in Novocherkassk.
The interior corresponds to a photo in the album of Grekov, of whom we wrote before.
The 33th MRBr or military unit 22179 is permanently stationed in two settlements. Main part of the unit with the command and conscripted soldiers is stationed in Maikop, Republic of Adygea, whereas contract servicemen are based in Novocherkassk, Rostov region.
Just like Vitaly Grekov in our previous investigation, Tupikin took a lot of winter photos in Ukraine:
22.12.2015 – photo in Amstor supermarket, as evidenced by the contact phone number on a billboard with cakes to order (062-348-89-80).
01.28.2016 – photo on the background of a Russian Tiger infantry mobility vehicle with additional power cables connected, which may indicate its use for electronic warfare. There is a boiler house chimney visible in the background.
The same chimney is visible on the other image:
Presumably, the shots were made on the grounds of a hospital or a medical center. On the last winter photo a name tag is visible on the foregrip of the rifle (this detail is an indirect indication of the weapon belonging to military personnel, rather than a mercenary).
Several months later, Vitaly is in Donetsk again, this time accompanied by Alexei Borodin, another soldier of the 33th MRBr (archived account, album, contacts). Borodin is being more careful in his social network activity than Tupikin. Before posting the photos to his account, he blurs his Donetsk Peoples’ Republic (DPR) shoulder insignia on the pictures, whereas his comrade does not.
During the second trip to Donetsk, Vitaly Tupikin inspects the city attractions, posing against the backdrop of street statues, “not forgetting the staff work”, as he puts it. His account features an aerial image of Donetsk districts.
Tupikin’s selfie on the roof of the building of the former Eastern Customs of the State Fiscal Service in Donetsk, both in winter and in summer, may indicate that Russian servicemen installed radio transmitters or other means of communication on the roof of the building. The building is located on the territory of the paramilitary rescue service station in Donetsk on Levitsky street. We wrote about it in our previous investigation of the Russian 66th Signal Brigade. Satellite images of the soccer field located behind the building of the rescue station consistently show it filled with military equipment.
In the following InformNapalm investigation we will provide additional analysis on the presence of exclusively Russian arms and military equipment in Donbas.
It is obvious, Russia is not only sponsoring terrorism, supplying arms and equipment to the war zone in the east of Ukraine, but it also acts as the main driving force of the conflict, constantly providing military personnel to wage the hybrid war for the “Russian world” in Ukraine.
Sanctions are a weighty, but not a sufficient tool to stop the aggressor. Ukraine is standing as an outpost in the way of imperial ambitions of the Kremlin, it needs much more meaningful support from the world community. Once this outpost falls, the aggressor will target the borders of other European countries.
This publication was prepared by Victory Krm, a volunteer of InformNapalm international community
Translation by Alexander Okhrimenko
Edited by Artem Velichko
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