“Retirees” and “cannon fodder”. How changed the tasks of the Russian military in the war in the Donbass

Since the conflict began in the Donbass in the spring of 2014 the official Kremlin denied and continues to deny the participation of armed forces in hostilities – despite statements by the Ukrainian military, the testimony of journalists and independent investigators and reports of the OSCE observers on the penetration to the Donbas from Russia, “a large number of people in a form similar to the military”.

Even the arrest of the personnel in the Donbass Russian soldiers and officers, as in the recent case of Viktor Ageev, not force Russia to recognize the fact of Russian military aggression, the prisoners are called “retirees” has already been dismissed from the ranks of the Russian army.

To the naked eye

In Kiev the presence of Russian troops in the Donbas recorded from the beginning of the armed conflict – the SBU said about the participation of sabotage and reconnaissance groups of the GRU of the General staff of the Russian Armed forces in the battle for Sloviansk in April-may 2014.

Over the next months, the journalists recorded the intersection of Russian military equipment to the Ukrainian border and the participation of officers in command of the armed detachments of separatists. An international team of independent analysts Bellingcat has been collecting evidence of Russian aggression in the Donbas from the beginning of the conflict.

To VideoMate Russian citizen Viktor Ageev turned to Peter Poroshenko with a request to pardon son

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In their work they use only data from open sources – publication in social networks, satellite images from map services.

The findings of the Bellingcat testify that participation of the Russian army in the fighting on certain stages it was noticeable even to the naked eye. For the past three years, analysts, in particular, has gathered evidence of Russian origin missile launcher “Buk”, which is July 17, 2014 was shot down the Boeing “Malaysian airlines”. With the help of satellite images online services such as Google Earth and Yandex.Cards, Bellingcat found evidence of Russian artillery shelling Ukrainian positions across the border in July-August 2014.

The analyst reports say about the “direct Russian invasion” during the battle for Ilovaisk, Saur-Mohyla and the Luhansk airport. Selfi in social networks Instagram and Facebook point to participate in the battle for debaltseve in the January-February 2015 Buryat tank.

The new strategy

With time to collect evidence of the presence of the Russian army in the Donbas has become increasingly difficult, says DW one of the analysts Bellingcat Aric Toler.

“As far as we know, were introduced severe restrictions on the use of social networks by the military. Besides, now the conflict involves more than professional soldiers, they are less likely to share things in social networks. Similar situation we see in Syria,” he says.

And most importantly – for the last two years have changed the strategy of participation of the Russian army in the Donbas conflict.

According to Bellingcat, the actions of the Russians have become more hidden, and their military has significantly integrated into the armed forces of the separatists. “The Russian army is no longer firing on Ukraine from artillery, not sending thousands of tanks. Now the Russian military are predominantly for the supply of equipment, for example, the drones carrying out the recruitment and training of militants from the local population,” says Aric Toler.

Videotiny Russian Viktor Ageev told why he agreed to serve in the Luhansk region

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Commandos and effective control

Interview prisoner Victor Ageev Ukrainian TV channel “1+1” partly confirms the observation that Bellingcat. The military said a corporal contract servicemen of military intelligence and participated in the work of the subversive-reconnaissance group, which performed combat missions on the frontline.

It looks like combat mission, according to their testimony, had carried out and detained in may 2015 Russian intelligence officers – captain Evgeny Erofeev and Sergeant Alexander Alexandrov. Other detention indicate that the Russian military in the armed forces of the separatists can perform including command functions, the so – called effective control, which Ukraine says a lot in the context of the international responsibility of Russia for the conflict.

So, on 9 July, the security Service of Ukraine (SBU) together with border guards detained at the Moldovan border Valeria Gradova, which according to the Ukrainian security services is a Colonel in the Russian army.

The Donbas Grata, according to the SBU, was involved in training militants and self-proclaimed Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR) had to take the post of “Minister of state security”. The source DW to the armed forces General staff and some commanders at the front on condition of anonymity, saying that concrete evidence now not so often fall into the hands of intelligence.

Ageev and Grata – the only likely Russian soldiers detained by Ukrainian military over the last year.

Videosto up with Russian agents to infiltrate the territory of Ukraine

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“Attached” to the separatists

Ukrainian military intelligence, however, often reports on the participation of the Russian army in the conflict in the East of the country. In particular, the scouts Facebook announced the planned inspections of the General staff of the Armed forces of the Russian Federation in the Donbass, which is supposed to investigate the theft of tools, fuel and ammunition to military units of the “DNR” and “LNR”.

On Tuesday, July 18, Hur reports on the facts of desertion “in the formations and units of Russian occupation troops.” “We are talking about structural parts “of the Ministry of defence DND” or “national militia of LNR”, which are “attached” soldiers from certain units of the Russian army commanders, trainers, special forces, explains DW source in the General staff of the armed forces. – Advanced well and still fighting, mostly local “militias” such a “cannon fodder”.