the home of online investigations

The Avalanche that Went from Russia to Ukraine

May 31, 2015

By Askai707

Translations: Русский

Читать пост на русском языке

One of the most obvious examples of Russia’s supplying of military equipment to the Donbass can be found in the infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-2) with the inscription of “Lavina” [Avalanche] and painted-over hull number.

At the end of August 2014, “Lavina” was recorded in Staraya Stanitsa, Russa, just north of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky (coordinates of video here). “Lavina” was seen in a column of military equipment with the eloquent inscription of “За Донбасс!” [For the Donbass!] and flags of so-called Novorossiya. Army tractor haulers are carrying the equipment. Residents of Staraya Stanitsa recorded this column on video.

lavina_1

 

lavina_2

 

lavina_3

They also posted photos on social network sites:

lavina_4 lavina_5

(Archived here)

In September, the “Lavina” BMP-2 showed itself in Ukraine, as seen in this photo from Associated Press reporter Darko Vojinovic in Zhdanivka in the Donetsk oblast’:

lavina_6

In October, a video was uploaded online in which “Lavina” was recorded in a convoy of military equipment moving through Yenakiieve (coordinates of video here)

lavina_7 lavina_8 lavina_9

As seen on social network sites, separatist fighters pose in front of this BMP-2:

lavina_10 lavina_11

In 2015, the “Lavina” BMP-2 actively participated in the battles for Debaltseve. “Lavina” is repeatedly seen in Vuhlehirsk in videos shot by both separatist and Russian correspondents (coordinates of videos here).

lavina_12

 

lavina_13 lavina_14

Screenshot from this video:

lavina_15

Screenshot from another video:

lavina_16

Thus, with the help of online open source information, it is possible to verify that Russia has sent military equipment into Ukraine with the intent of the equipment’s use in ongoing hostilities.

lavina_17
Askai707

Join the Bellingcat Mailing List:

Enter your email address to receive a weekly digest of Bellingcat posts, links to open source research articles, and more.

Support Bellingcat

You can support the work of Bellingcat by donating through the below link:

68 Comments

  1. Robert Johnson

    the letters seem rather different on these various photos.

    Some are thick, some are thin, some are blurred.

    Sometimes there are white dots, sometimes not.

    Reply
    • Aric Toler

      Hi Robert,
      The photos show the tank from two different sides. The “driver’s side” (at least in America) has Лавина in thicker script than on the “passenger’s” side.

      Reply
      • Zardos

        не знаешь куда Игги Останин пропал? Почему он больше ничего не публикует?

        Reply
        • Aric Toler

          Iggy has been presenting at various conferences regarding open source intelligence work, such in Kyiv at the Mezhyhirya Festival in June. He may also be busy with schoolwork 🙂

          Reply
      • Robert Johnson

        do they? or do they just show different tanks with the same slogan?

        In world war II thousands of Soviet tanks had the same slogans in the same style of writing.

        Reply
        • John

          Robert, if you look very, very closely at the photos, several things on the tank seem larger and blurrier – and SEEMINGLY different because of the quality, the source of light, distance to the tank and the lens focus. But you must compare only the SAME side. This effect is true if I took a picture of you with different cameras with different light sources, time of day, different cameras and different focus. But now look very, very closely at the DAMAGE on the rear end. It matches exactly!!!

          How can these “different” tanks with the “same slogan” have exactly the same, millimeter to millimeter, dents in the rear end? You can paint words and paint doesn’t mean anything except as a reference point. But it IS funny how the painter must have been the same guy with exact way of painting since it matches exactly if you measure it against positions on the tank – even the exact location of the green paint above the letters. That painter is one good painter to keep painting so exactly different tanks! LOL

          Reply
        • Not Mark

          Rob, is this a rhetorical question? YES they do! No, these pictures do not show different tanks with the EXACT same damage and EXACT same hand painted letters.

          Reply
  2. Robert Johnson

    these kinds of vehicles are ten a penny in ukraine anyway, abandoned in the hundreds by ukrainian forces.

    why on earth would anyone need yet another of them smuggled from Russia?

    Reply
    • Hopea Kone

      Because there isnt hundreds of BMP-2s being left intact on the battlefields, why would Russia need to supply the rebels with T-72Bs and T-72B3s when the rebels had captured dozens of T-64s earlier?

      Before Russia stepped in at the battle of Ilovaisk the rebels were losing, Luhansk and Donetsk were in danger of being cut off from and surrounded by Ukrainian forces and the defeat of the rebels was unacceptable for Russia.

      Even before the battle of Ilovaisk there were vehicles coming in from Russia, Chechens with their BTR-82A being the most notable example.

      Reply
      • Robert Johnson

        i have seen BMP-2’s in very large numbers abandoned by ukrainian forces.

        i also find the stories of supposed Russian T72B3’s highly dubious. The Ukrainian media reports seem like the lies of 8 year old childen. They make no sense.

        See my comments to that effect on other threads.

        Reply
        • Hopea Kone

          Well on the debate regarding the T-72B3s you just showed complete lack of knowledge regarding different T-72 variations, and on top of that you refused to believe any of the actual evidence that was given to you.

          Most of BMP-2s on rebel arsenals are captured, same goes for most of the small arms and T-64s, but on top of that there has been a steady flow of equipment from Russia a long with those so called “vacationers”.

          You show me a Ukrainian T-72 upgrade that looks exactly like a T-72B3 and your argument would be believable.

          Why you choose to remain in complete denial when faced with facts is beyond me.

          Reply
          • Robert Johnson

            ive already shown numerous Ukrainian T72s which look exactly like T72B3s.

            I dont believe the Ukrainian childish lies that they were previously captured from Russia.

          • Hopea Kone

            No you havent, you posted pictures from a Russian field exercise and an article that featured a picture of a T-90 which they had labeled as a “T-72”.

          • Not Mark

            No Rob, no you didn’t. EVERY single image you claimed was a T-72B3 in a different post here was shown to be incorrectly identified. Everyone, please go find the “Tank hunting” article on the homepage and look at these fallacies yourself.

          • Not Mark

            Hopea, Rob isn’t in denial. He knows the truth (lest the russians be VERY brainwashed) but he doesn’t get paid to write truthful things.

          • Max

            THX, that was my suggestion rite in that moment.

            Maybe Robert Johnson should rename himself in the bellingcat forum, because Robert Johnson is a quasi-synonym for complete lack of knowledge and randomly posted stupid questions.

          • Not Mark

            Andrew Gilmour, what point are you trying to make? That a Ukrainian tank is in Ukraine? I’m not sure what you are trying to say?

        • Yuri

          Robert, have you seen also an infinite amount amount ammo that so called rebels are using for over more than a year?

          Reply
    • Not Mark

      Robert, your logic is flawed. Certainly there are TENS OF THOUSANDS of AK-47s in the middle east, yes? Does that mean that no more AK-47s are smuggled into the region? Absolutely not! As we speak probably hundreds are transported to places they shouldn’t be.

      Reply
    • John

      Excellent question! Maybe they DON’T have all those “ten a penny” tanks in Ukraine. They didn’t have it before, now suddenly they are everywhere.

      It is interesting how you try to dispell facts by pointing out superficial things, like trying to make a case out of a blurry photo, but once a more significant fact (ie, exactly same damage on vehicle, etc) comes to your attention, you then try to dispel it again by refocusing on a rhetorical question. Do you think that sways anyone?

      You are right, if the rebels had all these tanks, why is one so obviously coming from Russia? I think this answers your own question!

      Reply
  3. Not Mark

    Good job Bellingcat! Another 100% satisfactory match and geolocation. There is no way any logical person would dispute that these pictures are of the same tank.

    Reply
  4. Robert Johnson

    Hopea Kone wrote:
    No you havent, you posted pictures from a Russian field exercise and an article that featured a picture of a T-90 which they had labeled as a “T-72″.

    You will need to convince me. What you think is of no importance to me.

    Reply
    • Not Mark

      LOL! Man, have you ever heard the phrase “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”?

      Reply
      • John

        Haha! perfect phrase in this case, NotMark! It just hit me that so-called “Robert Johnson” is too obviously a Kremlin Troll. You see how he sits on this site over and over and article after article on Ukraine and tries his sleight-of-hand attempting to fabricate things in such a coordinated and persistent manner? He tries to confuse the data and once the facts are pointed out – he then throws out some extraneous info to again miss the point. He is either a Kremlin Troll or should be — if he is spending such massive amounts of his free time here without getting paid I will ROFL!

        Reply
        • Not Mark

          I’ll admit, I have refocused a lot of my free time to this website in the last few days. I have only done so the help counter some of this massive operation to spread russian propaganda once I found it so prevalent and obvious in the comments section. Go through the posts here and you will find me “trolling the trolls”, so to speak. Every time I make a solid argument against a theory they simply ignore that point and bring up some moot point. It is laughable really but it is an excellent “turing test” of sorts to weed out russian “media relations” employees.

          Reply
    • John

      What he thinks is of no importance because you will get paid anyway — great job Robert Johnson (or should I call you Yura, Sasha or Igor?) LOL

      Reply
  5. Not Mark

    More random disparaging propaganda from you guys….. Please add useful information to this argument instead of wasting space with this. We all know the russian ruble is worth less than half of one hrynia.

    Reply
  6. Not Mark

    Soooo, you don’t have anything else to discuss regarding the actual article, eh? I guess you go into *red alert anti-Ukrainian propaganda mode* in such instances?

    Reply
  7. Not Mark

    Yep, we can now safely confirm you guys go into *red alert anti-Ukrainian propaganda mode* when there is nothing else you can deny about the article at hand.

    Reply
  8. Not Mark

    And to go along with your rambling, wouldn’t everything get better quickly if russia stopped dumping MASSIVE amounts of fuel on this fire? Surely, the ukrainian military would have been able to take back control of their own country if they weren’t really fighting russia? Long live Novorossiya!

    Reply
  9. Not Mark

    So we can all agree that russia is sending in these vehicles illegally and in violation of the minsk agreement then? Why does russia keep lying about it? Why not just come out and say they are doing this? The US does this when they want to participate in some good ol fashioned war and it usually doesn’t draw the scorn of the whole earth. Not as much as bold faced lying would do, at least.

    Reply
    • Andrew Gilmour

      Not all agree simply because the border is controlled by OSCE ppl and they never reported anything like that.
      Also, the US satellite images NEVER revealed any columns of RUs tanks or military vehicles crossing the border. Considering that the sat images can show little objects on the ground the US would always use this opportunity to demonstrate such images. Such evidence was never presented.

      Reply
      • Not Mark

        When has the US ever released such kind of satellite images? These things are not made for public consumption. These images are shared between friendly country’s intelligence agencies. The people that matter are able to see what is going on.

        Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)