This video released by the InformNapalm international investigative community gives an overview of 2,5 years of their open-source investigations of Russians taking part in military hostilit.ies in Donbas. It was prepared for and presented at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey on 19 November 2016.
Russia has consistently denied its military presence in Donbas, where the armed takeover of government buildings after the victory of the Euromaidan revolution in February 2014 grew into a full-fledged war that the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk “People’s Republics” are waging against Ukraine until now. However, social media is implacable: the accounts of Russian soldiers give away their participation in Putin’s covert war.
In the database russian-presence-in-ukraine.silk.co, InformNapalm gathered each case of Russia’s participation in the war in Ukraine – a total of 165 incidents.
75 Russian military units were found to have been sent to Ukraine on the orders of their command, often along with the latest Russian weapons and military equipment.
45 were from the ground forces, most of which are from the mechanized infantry units of the Russian Southern Military District (136th, 18th, 17th, 8th, 19th, 205th, 33rd and 34th Motor Rifle Brigades), as well as two from occupied Abkhazia. According to InformNapalm, most of these brigades are staffed by contract soldiers with combat experience gained through so-called counter-terrorism operations in the Russian North Caucasus.
12 airborne units have been deployed for rapid response in critical situations and to retain initiative primarily in offensive operations. InformNapalm claims that the most difficult battles for Ukraine (battles of Ilovaisk, Debaltseve, and Donetsk airport) were fought with the participation of paratroopers either forming entire assault groups or reinforcing illegal armed groups.
7 units of GRU special forces were engaged in subversive activities, such as seizing administrative buildings, attack Ukrainian military installations and convoys. Presently they are considered to be integrated into the illegal armed groups of the “republics,” holding key positions under cover identities and helping to maintain sophisticated types of weapons.
4 naval units.
5 units of the National Guard, all of them contract soldiers with combat experience in the North Caucasus.
2 air defense and signal troops belonging to the Russian air force, who brought the latest Russian surface-to-air missile and gun systems Pantsir-S1 with them. One of the surface-to-air missile systems was proven to be assigned to the 606th Air Defense Missile Regiment.
The Russian military units identified by InformNapalm in Donbas belong to different military districts, and some Russian professional servicemen have been coming to Ukraine from very remote military bases in the in the Far East, in the Arctic or even outside of Russia – in Tajikistan, Transnistria and occupied Abkhazia.
Military units from the recently occupied Crimea have been also involved in the war in Donbas, and now servicemen of at least 16 Russian units are now involved in the ground offensive in Syria, of which 13 of them had earlier participated in the war against Ukraine. Having orchestrated instability, death, and chaos in Ukraine, Russia is now doing the same in Syria.
Each case in the database is supported with open-source evidence such as social media posts and news from mainstream media.
Previously, InformNapalm has produced a database of weapons used by the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk “people’s republics” which could have only come from Russia.