Their OSINT investigation focused on Russian artillery officer Rodion Zobunov from MLRS battation of the 28th separate motorized brigade (military unit 61423, Ekaterinburg, Central Military district).
Here are his details: Rodion Nailevich Zobunov (archives of profile, album, contacts, Odnoklassniki page), born Sept. 15, 1989, Kazan; senior lieutenant. Serves in MLRS Grad battalion. Vehicle number С656СХ/116RUS.
Investigators noticed an interesting fact in Zobunov's profile: after many "Rostov drills," as Donbas operations of Russian regular troops are dubbed, with Grad MLRSes application, this officer was awarded a medal "For battle honors." This honor is only awarded to those who have fulfilled combat tasks.
This medal is a rare and significant award. The first wave of awarding with it came after the Chechen wars, the second one - after invasion of Georgia, and the third awarding batch started after launch of military activities in Ukraine - it is now received by those who are killing Ukrainians, the article reads.
Zobunov was smart enough not to place geo tags to his images, but he still uploaded a bunch of photos from Ukraine-bordering regions of Russia during December 2014 - March 2015, when the Donbas hostilities were at their peaks. Here are archives from his first "trip": 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
There are more images posted by Zobunov from Rostov oblast at the border with Ukraine. This time he is wearing summer uniform, which might mean his second 'trip' to the area in summer. Images were added in summer-fall 2015. See archives here: 1, 2, 3.
"This is not the first time of Russian army using Grad MLRSes and other missile and artillery weapons for shelling Ukrainian territories. As a rule, the shelling is conducted using 'rowing battery' tactics at border areas of the Rostov region in Russia or by quickly moving into Ukraine, committing attacks, and moving out as fast.
Given the information above, Zobunov must have received his reward for something more significant than simple 'drills' at the border with Ukraine, 1,700 km from his deployment location. It is worth noting that the 28th brigade from Ekaterinburg has been previously seen at "Rostov trips" of the Russian army.