We continue gathering evidence of Russia’s armed forces’ participation in combats in Donbas. At the conclusion of another OSINT investigation we got new information regarding the ‘Rostov-Ukraine assignment’ of the 74th separate motorized rifle brigade (military unit No. 21005, Central Military District, Yurga, Kemerov Oblast, Russia) in the summer and fall of 2014. Also we have proofs that certain servicemen of this unit are still in the occupied territory of Donbas and serve in the ranks of the illegal armed formations of so-called ‘Novorossiya’.
Conducting the in-depth analysis of the information found in VKontakte’s ‘Unit 21005, Kemerov Oblast, Yurga‘ group, we found a set of topics with the correspondence between the relatives and close people of the 74th brigade’s servicemen. All those conversations concerned the events during the ‘southern assignment’ of the unit in the summer and fall of 2014. The ‘Who knows anything about our guys in Rostov? Calm me down. No news for 4 days‘ (archive) topic is worth sharing. Between August 30 and October 2, the readers of this topic discussed the details of Yurga’s brigade’s participation in the combat actions in Donbas, including fights for the Luhansk airport. Here are several quotations (provided also as screenshots):
Svetlana Kovalenko: “the things are bad there! my friend’s husband called today and said they tried to capture the airport yesterday! they were shelled and he was laying wounded in a hospital. He said there are many wounded”
Chayana Mongush: “There are wounded indeed, but no information about killed”
Chayana Mongush: “Nobody from Yurga’s unit was killed, this is for sure. It’s morning there, they are sleeping, commanders store the mobiles. They will call when get the phones back.”
September 3, 2014
Another topic, named ‘Here is how our heroes live )))‘ (archive), contains a photo with comments. Taking into account the informal outfit and the white identification arm badges, the photo shows one of the raids to the Ukrainian Donbas made by the 74th brigade from Rostov Oblast. You can see the masked military equipment in the background.
Note: some pages of the conversation participants have been removed. Their too loose tongues and the corresponding reaction of the authorities may be the reason for that. Or maybe the women ‘whose men won’ never met their husbands again.
The 74th motorized rifle brigade has been already mentioned in our early investigations. The photos of the Yurga’s brigade’s servicemen were published in the materials gathered in November, 2014. The pictures were made in the field camps near the Ukrainian border, which were used as bases for the raids to Donbas. Also the copies of the “non disclosure agreements about the restricted information regarding the execution of the special tasks related to the Russian Federation’s security” were provided. There were also photos of the 74th brigade’s T-72 tank burnt in Donbas.
According to our observations, the Russian command used a different tactic of their troops usage in Donbas in the last 6 months. In the period of the Minsk agreements’ terms the Russians gave up using classic (battalion or company) tactical groups, since such large units can not stay unnoticed (especially since two Russian-terrorist army corps were created as illegal armed formations of new type). Now the Russian contract servicemen man by man or in small groups are assigned to different ‘Novorossiya’s units as instructors or specialists. The following servicemen have been noticed withing such ‘instructors’:
- 291st artillery brigade (military unit No. 64670, Troitskaya, Republic of Ingushetia, Russia)
- 7th military base (military unit No. 09332, Gudauta, occupied Abkhazia, Georgia)
- 8th mountain motorized rifle brigade (military unit No. 16544, Borzoi, Republic of Chechnya, Russia)
- 23rd motorized rifle brigade (military unit No. 65349, Samara, Russia)
- 19th motorized rifle brigade (military unit No. 20634, Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, Russia)
Now we can add here also the 74th separate motorized rifle brigade which serviceman now serves in the 3rd ‘Huligan’ [Hooligan] battalion of the so-called ‘LPR’ of ‘Novorossiya’. In result of the studying and analysis of the social profiles of ‘DPR/LPR’s militants, we found VK profile of Ilya Sekerin (archive, photo album archive, contacts archive) from Omsk, aged 23. According to the photos, after finishing the involuntary service and working a little bit in a security company, Sekerin signed a contract (intended for 3 years) with the 74th brigade in 2013. As the result of the summer assignment to Donbas he was awarded with a medal ‘For Military Valor’ of the 2nd class according to the order No. 841 from December 23, 2014, signed by Russia’s Minister of Defense and by colonel A. Boldyrev, the commander of military unit No. 21005. I. Sekerin apparently was not satisfied with the 2nd class medal and went for another assignment a year later, in August of 2015, chasing the 1st class one. Now he fights in the ranks of the 3rd battalion of ‘LPR’.
There are a lot of colleagues from the ‘Huligan’ battalion among Sekerin’s friends. And these can also be Russian contract servicemen: Sergei Kosyakov, Aleksandr Olegovich Kamenev, Leha Ivanov, Ilya Pikalov, Aleksei Izvarin, Timofei Kravchenko, and another participant of the summer-fall campaign in Donbas and the owner of the same medal Aleksei Pyrin.
As mentioned before, the 74th brigade has already been described in our materials in the context of the ‘Rostov-Ukraine assignments’:
- Russia again concentrates its military forces on the border with Donbass
- 74th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade — Another Proof of Russian Presence in Donbas
- The units of the 61st marine brigade as part of the invasion forces (in Russian)
- Another ‘photoshopped’ evidence of the Russian command: military convoy near Starobesheve (in Russian)
- Troops of the Rostov Group Undergo Intensive Training in Steppes near Ukrainian Border
We thank Vlad, our project’s friend, for the provided source materials for this article.