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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 329
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Does New Video Show The Russian Military Taking Control Of Krasnodon?
5 years
Shelling Targeting Donetsk Airport Increasing Right Now

A new video has surfaced which may show Russian soldiers and military vehicles moving into Krasnodon in the Lugansk region, where several embattled separatist commanders have been attacked, or even assassinated, by other separatist units in recent weeks.

Weeks ago, a prosecutor for the self-declared 'Lugansk People's Republic' (LNR) admitted that an arrest warrant had been issued for a separatist commander, Aleksandr Bednov, known as "Batman," for operating a torture chamber, and that afterwards he and many of his men were killed in an ambush. Some have speculated that "Batman" and his men had grown too independent, and required more careful "managing" by the Russian military, others, including notorious Batman member Alexei Milchakov, claimed that the Bednov had been killed for having interfered with the activities of drug runners connected to the LNR leadership.

On January 10, the separatist 'Odessa' militant unit announced on their VKontakte page that their base in Krasnodon had been surrounded by what they described as private military contractors. They noted that readers ought not to confuse these PMCs with the "polite people," a popular term for unmarked Russian soldiers as seen in Crimea.

Ukrainian journalist Roman Bochkala claimed, however, that the forces surrounding the Odessa unit were in fact Russian spetsnaz troops, "allegedly," he wrote, "Vympel, supported by heavy equipment."

The unit surrendered without a fight and was disarmed. There there were no reported casualties. 

Crimean blogger Colonel Cassad reported that the 'Lugansk Guard' group had announced that Odessa fighters would be integrated into the "army of the LNR," but that the unit had ceased to exist and the fate of the commander was now unknown.

There have been several claimed reasons for the units defenestration, with allegations from Odessa themselves that Oleg Bugrov, the "commander of the LNR People's Militia," was betraying separatist fighters.

Another separatist militant quoted by Colonel Cassad, 'Sych' (owl), claimed that the media had exaggerated the situation, denying the presence of spetsnaz or PMCs, claiming that rather than a wave or repressions being under way, the LNR leadership is disarming looters.

A source of Cassad's in Krasnodon claimed that one of the main causes of the conflict has been miscommunication about humanitarian aid and its ferrying down the line from the border town.

The Ukrainian Sirgis Inform website reported that one member of Odessa, known as Varyag, had said, in a video uploaded to YouTube but now rendered "private," that his unit had been attacked for disrupting smugglers' activities on the border.

Video footage, geolocated near the Odessa base in Krasnodon, may in fact show the forces that surrounded the unit.

The first thing we noticed was that Russian BPM-97 armoured vehicles are seen in this footage. These weapons, discussed at length here, are exclusively used by the Russian border guard (the Ukrainian government does not possess these vehicles) and are so new to this fight that a report which is only months old from Armament Research Services (ARES) does not include them on the list of weapons used in this war. The presence of these vehicles suggests either direct Russian intervention in this case or the use of BPM-97s, recently supplied from Russia, by LNR forces. We also know (and ARES confirms) that T-72s, also visible in this video, are not used by Ukrainian forces. To our knowledge, the GAZ Vodnik is also not used by Ukrainian forces and we're not aware of it being used in this conflict before now. Krasnodon has, of course, regularly seen the arrival of fresh armour and troops from Russia.

The combination of these weapons, all of which had to have been supplied by the Russian military, and the size of this convoy is suspicious and cause for alarm. 

The following is an assessment of this new video by blogger Dajey Petros of Ukraine At War, authorized by The Interpreter: The original video was removed by the user, but Petros uploaded a copy before it was erased.

Petros also notes that this may be proof that the Russians are taking direct control of the situation in Krasnadon. However, as we can see, the narrative is not so clear, and the line between the Russian military and at least some of the groups which they support is blurred, at best.

 -- James Miller and Pierre Vaux

A video appeared of a secretly filmed convoy with the newest Russian armor, reported to be in Krasnodon.

Screenshots of the video show GAZ Vodnik, BPM-97, T-72B1, about 30 vehicles in total with lots of infantry.





These GAZ-3937 have been spotted in Ukraine several other times already.

The video is reported to be in Krasnodon, but unfortunately there is no Google streetview available in Krasnodon. Nevertheless we can still safely conclude it was there:

There are only a few cities in East-Ukraine with trolleybus lines (Donetsk, Alchevsk, Lugansk and Krasnodon).

  1. Also, this blog already geolocated another video with BPM-97 in Krasnodon. This video may be related to that event, and it also shows that the streets are either similar or the same.
  2. All elements in the video indicated in the pictures below can indeed be found in Krasnodon:


This Panoramio photo shows that Krasnodon indeed has similar trolleybus line, lanterns and the white paint on the bottom of the poles, matching the picture above:


This Panoramio photo shows that there are also big billboards and some perpendicular poles for the trolleybus lines:


Matching this screenshot from the video:


Now we can try to find a billboard at the side of the road and see if we can match everything with a screenshot.

This location gives a perfect match:


On the map that looks like this:


They are driving towards the base of the 'Odessa' unit.

-- Dajey Petros