"A person named Nikolai Statsuk has come to our attention - Instagram profile (archive), VKontakte profile (archive, album archive, contacts archive). He was born in Maisky (Kabardino-Balkaria, Russia) on Sep. 9, 1994. His compulsory service took place on the naval base in Novorossiysk (military unit No. 90921) and ended in 2014. Statsuk was initially assigned to Zheleznyakov sea minehunting ship but signed a ground service contract afterwards.
"Statsuk uploaded several fresh photos from Mozdok (Northern Ossetia, Russia) to his blog on Dec. 3, 2015. One of them (archive) has an intriguing dialog with some @slynko56 (archive), check out an extract from it:
- Have you signed a contract?
- Seven months ago.
- Gotcha… do they pay well?
- Enough for me. Write me in private, I'll answer!
"The arm badge drew our attention on this picture - crossed arrows in front of specific pentapetalous carnation - the departmental emblem and official symbol of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate's units. Bluish-pink core of the sign is much less visible, so we were not able to determine the military unit and had to seek further.
"Here are the most interesting points in this investigation:
"A set of pictures - 1, 2, 3 (archives 1, 2, 3) uploaded by Statsuk during his "trip" on Nov. 18-20. There is also a dialogue with @dmitriypasha (archive):
- Where are you?
- Write me in private, I'll answer
"Several photos at the same time show Statsuk posing in an unofficial camo with "Donetsk People Republic" badges (archive). A forest, an unfinished construction site of a 5-storey building, garages, power lines can be seen in the distance - everything resembling Donetsk landscapes. Another picture with a "DPR" emblem and a modernized SVD-S sniper rifle (which is in service of Russian units only) comes with Nikolai's comments (archive):
- What have you become?)
- I'm in SpOp now!)
- What is that?)
- Special forces, Spetsnaz.
"Further analysis resulted in identification of Zhenya Savisko (archive, photo archive, contacts archive), a friend of Statsuk who served with him. In his blog Savisko poses in an army uniform with the same arm badge as Statsuk in Mozdok. Moreover, there is a photo in his social account's album showing a banner with the 346th Separate Special Forces Brigade's symbols, where both these soldiers serve now.
"Note: the 346th brigade was created not so long ago and there is no much information about it on the Internet. Some details about this military unit were provided by InformNapalm in April, 2014. It should be taken into account that the brigade is based in the town of Prokhladny (Kabardino-Balkaria) - the same region where Statsuk comes from. This brigade has already been mentioned in our investigations into Rostov-Ukraine "trips." Its appearance has also been registered near the border of Ukraine.
"There are also other indirect evidence about Statsuk belonging to the military unit located in Kabardino-Balkaria. For example, the comments in the blog of some @soldier_boys07, one of Statsuk's friends, where the service in this region was mentioned.
"Some other facts also confirm that the Russian serviceman Statsuk has participated in the war conflict in Ukraine. For example, the same garages as in the photo from Statsuk's Ukrainian "trip" were found on the page of Dmitry Gromakov (archive, photos archive, contacts archive), a separatist fighting in the ranks of the so-called "Nikolaevsky special forces battalion" in the "DPR" and is a common friend of Anatoly Ivanenko (archive, photos archive, contacts archive), another serviceman from the 346th brigade. The building itself is supposedly located in Starobesheve. Gromakov is Statsuk's "friend's friend" and poses with a borrowed SVD-S and AK with a night scope attached.
"Thus, this article vividly demonstrates that the Kremlin continues to deploy its hybrid servicemen in Ukraine. And when these special forces soldiers or other occupants are captured, the Russian media quote the words "Russian servicemen" and "Spetsnaz soldiers" or humbly add something like "got lost" or "allegedly fight" in Ukraine," the article notes.
Please refer to other publications about the Russian 346th special forces brigade: