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Russian Officers and Militants Identified as Perpetrators of the January 2015 Mariupol Artillery Strike

May 7, 2018

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Translations: Русский

The Bellingcat Investigation Team has determined conclusively that the artillery attack on the Ukrainian town of Mariupol on 24 January 2015, which resulted in at least 30 civilian deaths and over 100 injuries, came from Russia-controlled territory. Bellingcat has also determined that the shelling operation was instructed, directed and supervised by Russian military commanders in active service with the Russian Ministry of Defense. Bellingcat has identified nine Russian officers, including one general, two colonels, and three lieutenant colonels, involved directly with the military operation.

Furthermore, Bellingcat has determined that two artillery batteries of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) were transported from Russia into Ukraine the day before the Mariupol operation. In the early morning of 24 January 2015, these batteries were deployed near the village of Bezimenne exclusively for the shelling of targets in and around Mariupol, after which they were repatriated back into Russia.

In the course of analyzing the events in the eve of and on 24 January 2015, Bellingcat has also identified two Russian generals involved with the selection and assignment of Russian artillery specialists to commanding roles in eastern Ukraine.

This investigation was made possible due to access to raw video and audio data that is being submitted by the Ukrainian government to the International Court of Justice as part of an ongoing legal case. This data was made available to a small group of international investigative media for the purposes of independent assessment. Bellingcat and its media partners analyzed a large volume of intercepted calls from and to participants in the armed conflict located in the area of Bezimenne at the time of shelling. Bellingcat conducted detailed cross-referencing of events, names and locations, as well as metadata from the calls, to open source data, including satellite photography data, social media posts, and voice samples from public statements of some of the identified persons. A detailed analysis permitted the identification of persons and military units, and the reconstruction of events leading up to the shelling of residential areas in Mariupol.

While previous reports, including the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine report from 24 January 2015, have identified that shelling of Mariupol’s residential areas came from separatist-controlled territory, Bellingcat’s investigation is the first to fully detail and identify the role of active Russian military units, as well as the direct commanding role of active Russian army officers in this military operation.

Our full report identifying the nine Russian officers involved with the military operation that led to the deaths of 30 Ukrainian civilians in Mariupol will be published later this week. Today, we are revealing the names of these individuals, along with a sampling of the telephone conversations that led to their identification.

The Russian officers who were in charge on high and lower levels of the MLRS batteries on the day of the shelling at Mariupol, or provided target instructions from another location in Eastern Ukraine, have been identified by Bellingcat as:

Major General Stepan Stepanovich Yaroshchuk

Alexander Iozhefovich Tsapliuk, call sign ‘Gorets’

Alexander Anatolevich Muratov

Maksim Vladimirovich Vlasov, call sign ‘Yugra’

Sergey Sergeyevich Yurchenko, call sign ‘Voronezh’

Alexander Valeryevich Grunchev, call sign ‘Terek’

The Russian officers who were in charge of selecting and sending artillery commanders and artillery equipment to Eastern Ukraine have been identified by Bellingcat as:

Colonel Oleg Leargievich Kuvshinov

Major General Dmitry Nikolaevich Klimenko

Colonel Sergey Ivanovich Lisai

The two Russian and Ukrainian militants in direct charge of the artillery units that shelled Mariupol have been identified by Bellingcat as:

Alexander Mikhailovich Evtody, call sign ‘Pepel’

Grayr Manukovich Egiazaryan, call sign ‘Shram’

Our full investigation, with biographical details on each of these men, our research process, and our analysis of the shelling attack itself, will be published later this week.

Bellingcat worked on this report with its investigative partner McClatchy.

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45 Comments

  1. PJefferson Araldi

    Last week Russia stationed Iskander nuclear rockets ib the exclave of Kaliningrad. Would take minutes for one Iskander to reach Warsaw, Berlin etc.. Still the European “leaders” chose-again!- to turn a blind eye to Russian aggression.
    Hopefully in a few days Trump is gonna send that useless Iran nuclear agreement to the cesspool!

    Reply
    • Antonio Barbosa

      Trump is incapable of anything. A bofoon partying with daddy’s cash. I also am enclined to believe that he is owned by Putin too.

      It took McCain and others to even have him signed sanctions on Russia from the House of Representatives and to this day nothing happened. Threatened sanctions on yet another failed attack on Syria. Then backed off.

      He is incompetent and a liar.

      Reply
      • Boris

        Yes, Trump is so incompetent that he became President of the United States against every effort of Democrat and Republican politicians, the news media, and international opinion.
        He must be quite untalented.

        Reply
      • Valery

        Yes, Trump is so incompetent that he filled all Manhattan with his black skyscrapers with his name written on each of them: Trump, Trump, Trump. Do you know who have ever allowed him to become a president? Were that those misguided people? They voted? That bad population again and again is always wrong from the liberal’s stand point. “Liberals” are always good, population is always bad. Amazing similarity between USA and Russia. Ah?

        Reply
  2. Taleo

    That is all very interesting, but why is there no info on Ukranian millitary shellings of the cities of Donbas? Where are the ukranian generals and officers responsible for the death of civilians in Luhansk and Donetsk? Bellingcat, i can clearly see on which side you are on. Its not nice. Yes, Russia is invlolved and Russia is lying, but Ukrain is not sinless in this conflict as well.

    Reply
    • klemm

      I agree it’s one sided. As horrible as it is when people who arnt involved in the combat die…but my question is why is it just Russia being investigated for this when all round the work the axis alliance has filled 10000’s and still no investigation.

      Reply
    • Alain

      Easy answer :
      -What does Russia in Ukraine?
      -Without Russia the conflict would have ended in September 2014, with thousands of deads less

      You cannot put Ukraine at the same level as Russia in this conflict!

      Reply
      • nyolci

        In order:
        1. What does Russia [do] in Ukraine?
        First of all these are the locals, not the Russians. Moreover, Russian and Ukrainian is less different than – say – the people of Normandia and the people of Nice. Most of the Ukrainians and most of the Russians think they are one and the same nation.
        2. Without Russia …
        It was a very unpopular coup de etat, carried out mostly with the help of neo-nazi thugs, clearly directed from the US (eg. Victuria Nuland herself handpicked the coup government, including the extremely unpopular Arseniy Yatsenyuk as a PM). No one in his/her right mind in the Ukraine wanted a civil war, and in the early days the soldiers were openly making friends with the rebels. The US had to infuse a massive amount of thugs to escalate the situation (like Right Sector squads).

        3. You cannot put Ukraine at the same level as Russia in this conflict!
        Yes, you can. You cannot put the US and allies at the same level.

        Reply
        • EM

          In order:
          1. “First of all these are the locals, not the Russians.” – Srtelkov-Girkin, Motorola, Chmuriy etc. are Russians. You’re lying.
          2.”Moreover, Russian and Ukrainian is less different than – say – the people of Normandia and the people of Nice” – No. You’re lying. They are different people with different culture, language and genetics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russians
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainians
          3.”Most of the Ukrainians and most of the Russians think they are one and the same nation.” -No. You’re lying.
          4.”It was a very unpopular coup de etat, carried out mostly with the help of neo-nazi thugs” – just your lie and propaganda.
          5.”No one in his/her right mind in the Ukraine wanted a civil war…” – There is no civil war. This is the Russian invasion.
          6. “You cannot put Ukraine at the same level as Russia in this conflict!
          Yes, you can.” – No, you can’t. Ukraine is defending itself . And Russia is an agressor.

          Reply
    • Black Star

      There is a very small amount of point in Taleo’s comment. Since Russian media is all lies, it is the job of western media to dig out the truth.

      Reply
      • Taleo

        What i meant is that all the effort of Bellingcat is to show the wrongdoings of Russia. But Ukranian military was also shelling civilians. Or not? Were the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk shelled like russian news is saying? If yes, why no investigation? So that we know the wrongdoings of both sides.

        Reply
        • Big Bob

          “Were the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk shelled like russian news is saying? If yes, why no investigation?”
          Do you still trust russian Goebbels-news agencies? The key word here is “if”: “If yes, why no investigation?”
          And here are just a couple of citations:
          1. “Goebbels was a talented man.” © Mr. Putin, 2014
          2. “Luhansk was shelled by [Russian-backed] battalion led by Igor Plotnitsky.” © Mr. Bolotov, the first leader of Luhansk terrorists, 2016
          Note that Bolotov escaped from Ukraine to Russia in 2014 and enigmatically died in Moscow in 2017 from heart attack, just a month after he gave his scandal interview to Rosbalt news agencies (www.rosbalt.ru/world/2016/12/08/1574039.html)

          Reply
    • Alex

      Maybe because investigations of ANY shellings of civilians reveal russian army’s responsibility? Maybe because russians are aggressors and invaders in this war, and are aimed at damaging Ukraine and , while Ukraine just defends and is aimed at regaining control over its own territory and returning to peaceful life, so doesn’t have any reasons for shelling its cities?
      Or maybe you have any facts pointing at Ukraine’s guilt in some of such shelling? Or just bla-bla-bla repeating the lies of russian propaganda, “Ukraine is bombing Donbass, crucifying babies” and so on?

      Reply
      • Taleo

        Yes, maybe you are right. So did Ukranian army shell Luhansk and Donetsk?

        Reply
        • Alex

          Ukrainian army doesn’t perform deliberate shelling of Ukrainian civilian objects and citizens, as distinct from russian invasion forces. Once more, if you have any other facts, you can do and publish (even here) your own investigation the same way as Bellingcat do. If not, it’s time to stop this empty talk.

          Reply
          • Valery

            Of course, the rebels fire on themselves. Just sit in Donetsk and Luhansk and fire on living districts. In order to blame Ukrainian army. We have heard that from Ukrainian officials many times. They would not lie.

          • Valery

            In the meantime an “unidentified jet” bombed the apartment building in Snezhnoe, soon before the Boeing was shot. Honest Ukrainian officials honestly were unable to identify where that jet could have appeared from. Probably all military and civilian radars were turned off in the same way as Ukraine reported to DCU MH17 investigation when asked for the primary radar data. No data – no problems.

    • Daniel Romein

      To my opinion the big difference is that Russia has always denied that officers and soldiers of their army were involved in the conflict in Ukraine. Russian officers and soldiers should not be there in the first place. Another difference is that the intercepted phonecalls clearly show the Russian officers involved in the Mariupol shelling were aware residential areas were hit, but they kept on shelling the city still for several hours.

      Reply
  3. John Presland

    Pjefferson. You are an idiot. Without the Iran agreement we’ll have a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

    Reply
  4. Eugene

    Taleo, Ukraine defending its territory and sovereignty against russian military aggression. Ukraine don’t shelling civilian objects. Donetsk and Lugansk are not destroyed as Aleppo or Grozny after they were captured by russian troops.
    Ukraine has all rights to fight against military invasion of russian troops and pro-russians militants on its own territory.

    Reply
    • klemm

      Ukrainian govt is a puppet nation to the ones who are trying to make Russia look bad. American CIA has already been looked at and was said to be behind the sensation of Ukraine’s former leader, poisoned (will find article)

      Reply
      • Basilews

        lol man Russia doesn’t need anyone to make it look bad, it’s just is.

        Reply
      • Mad Dog

        Yeah right, Russia never does anything wrong and it is just the CIA at work. No problem with Russia at all, whether it be in the Ukraine or in Syria, cause they are just good guys (and the Ukrainians are all dishonest as one of our Russian friends here so frequently points out).

        Reply
        • Valery

          Do you agree with all that the russia’s haters write here in this comment section? Most of them are from Ukraine. That specific way to behave is what I call dishonesty. I’m not saying all ukrainians are like that. There are a lot of great, talented and honest people. But that mentality is somewhat typical for their national character. At least from I’ve seen on the internet and from my personal experience with my coworkers. Especially among Ukrainian immigrants. Compare to Russians. People are all different, but there is such thing as a culture, or its absence, in some average statistical meaning. That is not a racistic statement, I believe. Just need to be careful with the other cultures you don’t understand, so to say.

          Reply
          • Mad Dog

            Nope, I don’t agree with Russia Haters, but you can see what is just bile and what is a bit factual. And again, you still come of as being a bit racially biased. Compared to Russians? Such a thing as culture? Which Russians should we compare them to? The guys who ran the Gulags? The troops who raped and pillaged in Berlin? The 80% of the voters who chose Vlad? So, how do Ukrainians lack culture compared to Russians. If I remember correctly, the life span of males in Rodina is decreasing rapidly, mainly due to alcohol abuse. What to you think of Chechans? They most certainly should be worse, right?

          • Valery

            Cultural difference, not racial. Living in the “melting pot” in USA, turning into “salad” recently, right, you probably have experienced that with different groups of people.

            I don’t know why most hatred, finger pointing and alike is coming from Ukrainian side, but usually not vice verse. I believe that is somewhat cultural. There is a slightly different attitude to individualism verses collectivism, to tell it the most politely, may be, I can hardly explain or generalize that. With all the various unpleasant consequences like what we are observing here….

          • Valery

            Mad Dog, a good article for you, to the question of who is guilty in the new escalation. Not completely unbiased, but good enough for such a fake-news as New York Times, and for a brother of another famous writer Marsha Gessen. It gives a lot of details on the internals and actors of Washington’s politics on Russia:
            https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/magazine/the-quiet-americans-behind-the-us-russia-imbroglio.html
            I would add from myself, that you will break your teeth against Russia. The major problem of your politicians who deal with external affairs is amazing self-conceit multiplied by incredible incompetence.

      • Black Star

        Tovarich Klemm, you need to attend more English classes.

        “sensation of Ukraines former leader”, what does that even mean 😀

        Reply
        • ClaudioGentile

          Obviously English is not Klemm’s first language but it’s not difficult to discern the meaning… presumably you’re a bit unclever..

          Reply
          • Antonio Barbosa

            “Unclever”?

            Yes, his meaning is well understood. Maskirovska.

          • ClaudioGentile

            I just knew the subtlety of using “unclever” to make my point would be lost on someone…

  5. Destiny of Russia

    Thanks once again Bellingcat ! Russia is such a psychiatrically sick country ! It’s mind boggling….the people there are used to lying all the time , you just need to look at cretins such as Peskov , Zaharova not to mention the main street criminal himself , Putin ….poor , poor , country of mentally deficient slaves…..

    Reply
    • PJefferson Araldi

      “Mentally deficient slaves” perfectly describes Russians. According to Russian public opinion Stalin is the world’s greatest leader ever; Purin comes second. The more murderous the despot the more the Russkies love him!

      Reply
  6. Anton Som

    Russia must be recognized as agressive state with revanchist ideology. After dissolution of the USSR Russia surrounded itself by belt of hot conflicts:
    Georgia – War in Abkhazia 1991-1993 (as a result Abkhazia was separated from Georgia);
    Moldova – War in Transnistria 1992 (as a result Transnistria was separated from Moldova);
    War in Tajikistan 1992-1997 (as a result prorussian government installed);
    War in Georgia 2008 (as a result North Osetia was separated from Georgia);
    War in Ukraine 2014 (as a result Crimea annexed by Russia, part of Donbass districts separated from Ukraine).
    This list not including neverending turmoil in North Caucasus (Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan) and fueling of Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, support serbians in Balkan wars and many others including support of Assad regime in Syria nowadays.
    If other remained post-soviet bordering states (Belarus, Kazakhstan etc.) drop their loyalty to Russia they will be next targets of russian proxy green-troops.
    Such agressive politics leads to instability, forced migration, deaths of many civilians and demands punishment of russian agressor.
    Any economic, political and military actions that can stop Russia in their revanchism (also called “ruscism”), can stop spread of russian propaganda amongst other nations, can set trials to judge and punish russian government and affiliates for their deeds ARE WELCOMED.

    Reply
    • Taleo

      Thanks for sharing. It saddens me that there are a lot of people out there who will just say “its fake organized by sbu (ukranian security service)”. F*cking zombies

      Reply
      • Paul Williams

        Frankly if its based on alleged ‘tapped phone calls’ provided by the SBU with no proof these aren’t just fakes or cut and pasted conversations its worthless.

        Reply
        • Taleo

          What do you mean? What is a proof then? All that is needed is to prove that these voices do belong to those people. I suppose this can be done, no?

          Reply
  7. Lard

    Oh wow…people still care about this! I’d love to see some of your reports on civillian casualties caused by NATO forces around the world.

    Reply

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