The following is an English translation of Askai707’s Russian-language post on the presence of the 136th Motorized Infantry Brigade in eastern Ukraine in August-September 2014. The original post (in Russian) can be accessed here. English translation by Aric Toler.
At the end of August and beginning of September in 2014, Russia’s 136th Motorized Infantry Brigade (military unit 63354, Buynaksk, Dagestan) and other Russian units were involved in the hostilities near Luhansk. Evidence of the participation of T-90A tanks from this brigade has already been laid out in my previous post, “T-90 in the Donbass.” This post reviews evidence of the involvement of the howizters self-propelled artillery units of the 136th Motorized Infantry brigade in hostilities in the same area.
Until recently, there was only indirect evidence regarding the artillery units of the 136th Brigade in the fighting of the summer and fall of 2014. In September 2014, artillerymen of the 136th Motorized Infantry Brigade published photographs on social network sites of themselves in camouflaged uniforms without any military insignia. In the background of these photos were self-propelled 2S3 howitzers with painted-over identifying numbers and tactical marks:
In the beginning of 2015, photographs of medals received in December were first uploaded. Here is the medal of Vladimir Tyumentsev:
The medal of Vyacheslav Laputin:
The medal of Timur Orazov:
Once in a while we find online comments in which the servicemen of the 136th Motorized Infantry Brigade boast to their friends, not concealing their involvement in combat:
“Ilyas Shakiryanov: Brother, we really gave the Ukrops [note: derogatory term for Ukrainians] hell in Ukraine in 2014
Farit Akhmetgalin: That’s right, bro.”
Contract soldier Dmitry Kirillov of the 136th Brigade posted direct evidence onto his VKontakte page. He posted two videos and two photographs in a post, in which he signs it “The guys know, the guys get it.”
On the photos, we see eight men with automatic weapons, in camouflaged uniforms without military insignia. They are all posting on the roof of an armored vehicle:ы:
The first photograph carries the comment: “136 brigade!!!” The second has a geotag that shows that it was taken in the Krasnodon district of the Luhansk oblast. However, it is difficult to check the accuracy of the photograph’s location. On one video from the top of the turret of the self-propelled 2S3 Akatsiya artillery, destroyed Ukrainian military equipment in Novosvetlovka of the Luhansk oblast is filmed. However, the crew of the Akatsiya barely falls into the frame.
There is a much more interesting video than the first one. In this video are the same soldiers as in the photo from Kirillov’s previously discussed post, where they are on top of an armored vehicle exiting the town. It is not difficult to determine the location of the image: the southern outskirts of the village of Samsonovka in the Krasnodon district of the Luhansk oblast (six kilometers south of the location where the photographs of the T-90A tanks of the 136th Brigade were taken).
Above we can see the stretch of road that the video was taken on with the help of Google Maps.
Below is a comparison of objects in the vicinity of the video of Dmitry Kirillov with the same objects in a video and photo at the entrance into Samsonovka from the southern side. On the left part of the collage of screenshots from the Kirillov video, and on the right are screenshots of the video “Trip from Luhansk to Krasnodon and back” and a photo from the VKontakte page of Igor Komissarov.
Of the eight men in the photographs and videos in Samsonovka, I have found six of their VKontakte pages. One of these men remains unidentified (unnumbered in the below group photographs), and it is unclear exactly who he is and what division he’s from. There is another soldier (number 7) who appears often in photographs with his comrades from the 136th Brigade, but I have not found any of his social network accounts.
Below is a list that matches the assigned numbers (from group photos above) with the name that each serviceman registered under on the VKontakte social network, along with an archived link to their account pages:
1 – Ivan Smirnov https://archive.is/pnAm0
2 – Ruslan Bukreyev https://archive.is/ZP8Nu and his second account – http://web.archive.org/web/201509101850
3 – Arman Atkaliyev http://web.archive.org/web/201509151620
4 – Dmitry Petrov https://archive.is/xbZTB and his second account – https://archive.is/8DSXc
5 – Kolyan Gavrilov https://archive.is/FIke2
6 – Dmitry Kirillov https://archive.is/WXnDo
7 – Unidentified serviceman of the 136th Motorized Infantry Brigade (no pages found)
Ivan Smirnov’s VKontakte account has little information, as he has only saved a few photographs of himself in civilian clothes.
However, we often find Ivan Smirnov in the photographs of his colleagues from the 136th Motorized Infantry Brigade.
Below is a picture from the page of Dmitry Kirillov. From left to right: Ivan Smirnov, Dmiitry Kirillov, and an unidentified serviceman (number 7 on group photos). The photo has a geotag with for the Buynaksk region, and Smirnov is wearing his military uniform with insignia of the missile troops and artillery:
The below photograph with Smirnov (furthest to the right) is from the account of Dmitry Petrov (fifth from the left). Second from the right is Nikolay Gavrilov (number 5 on the group photos). The servicemen are posing in front of an 2S3 Akatsiya:
The below photograph with Ivan Smirnov is from the page of Nikolay Gavrilov. From left to right are the servicemen Dmitry Petrov, Ivan Smirnov, and Nikolay Gavrilov.
The below photo shows Ivan Smirnov in the foreground and was taken from the page of another soldier of the 136th Motorized Infantry Brigade, Elvert Gubaydullin. Behind Smirnov are the same soldiers who were in the video in Samsonovka: Dmitry Kirillov (first from the left), the unidentified soldier numbered 7 (second from left), Ruslan Bukreyev (first from the right), and Dmitry Petrov (second from the right).
Ruslan Bukyreyev very actively covered his military service on the VKontakte social network site, and even had two accounts. In the field for “Military service” he noted the military unit 63354–that is, the 136th Motorized Infantry Brigade.
He uploaded a photograph in April 2014 where he is in front of of a self-propelled artillery Akatsiya with the commentary “My beauty :)”
Below is a photograph of work being done on the engine-transmission compartment of an artillery unit with the tactical mark of the 136th Brigade:
Before his trip to the Ukrainian border in August 2014 , the mechanic-driver Ruslan Sergeyevich Bukreyev wrote a report with a request for a military service contract with a 3-year term. He left the commentary “I’m going to Rostov!” with the photo.
In a photograph uploaded on September 7, 2014, Ruslan Bukreyev poses in front of a road sign for the town of Prodorozhne, located at the entrance into the southern side of the village in the Krasnodon district of the Luhansk oblast:
In the video at Samsonovka (three kilometers south of the village of Pridorozhne), Ruslan Bukreyev is driving the MT-LBu armored vehicle.
On one of the September photographs, we see Bukreyev inside of an armored vehicle with a colleague who is wearing a radio safety helmet with the number 743:
In the Russian army, they often register their armored vehicle inventory with their hull numbers in order to provide order and prevent theft. One of the artillery control (fire control/direction) vehicles in the 136th Brigade happens to have the number 743. A picture of this vehicle is on the pages of two servicemen who were in the Samsonovka video: Ruslan Bukreyev and Dmitry Petrov (numbers 2 and 4 in the group photos).
Photographs of hull number 743 from the accounts of other servicemen:
There is additional information from the VKontakte pages of the remaining Russian servicemen who were located in the village of Samsonovka.
Arman Atkaliyev (number 3 in the group photos) is a participant of the public group “Army, Byunaksk 136th Motorized Infantry Brigade 58 Army”
Atkaliyev has all of three photographs, and there are none of his military service. However he is in the group photos (second row, furthest to the right) that were taken from the territory of the 136th Brigade base, which are saved on his comrades’ pages (1, 2, 3, 4).
Dmitry Petrov has a more informative page. He is in the closed group called “military unit 63354.”
Below are photographs of Dmitry Petrov in Buynaksk:
Petrov in his military uniform with the insignia of the missile forces and artillery:
Nikolay Gavrilov (number 5 in the group photos and screenshots from the Samsonovka video) can be seen below. He indicates that he served in the 136th Brigade in Buynaksk on his own VKontakte page:
Gavrilov (first from the left) is seen in photographs along with Ivan Smirnov (second from the left):
Finally, there are photographs with the unidentified soldier who was marked by number 7 in the group photos and was also in the Samsonovka video. He is in many photographs taken and uploaded by his colleagues from the 136th Motorized Infantry Brigade, and apparently he is a contract soldier in his military service.
Below is a photograph from Dmitry Petrov’s page, in which the unidentified soldier number 7 is in a red square:
Photograph from the page of Dmitry Kirillov:
In sum, we can say, with the help of open source information, that there is both indirect and direct evidence of the artillery and tank units of the Russian 136th Motorized Infantry Brigade in the Donbass. These units participated in military activities in the Luhansk area in August and September 2014 while active servicemen with the armed forces of the Russian Federation.