"Some information at the moment is being used for investigation. We received photos that were identified as images of an operating terminal of a Russian R-330ZH 'Zhytel' jammer. Time, location, and these images, together with additional analysis of satellite images, conducted by InformNapalm volunteers, allow stating that this jammer had been used in battles for Debaltseve in winter 2015," the authors of the investigation inform.
The automated R-330Zh 'Zhytel' jammer provides, among other, detection, location, and analysis of signals by radio-frequency sources within operating band.
This station is in service in the Russian army only, and it being found in the Donbas proves the facts of the Russian Federation's use of modern means in the aggressive war on Ukraine's territory. The station is being served by Russian career soldiers.
In a recent article about R-330Rzh 'Zhytel' station in the Donbas, information about the Russian station in the Donbas has been revealed. The station was featured in a video showing redeployment of equipment to the Ukrainian border in summer 2014, together with images of the station found in the social medium profile of a militant from 'Vostok' gang, made in summer of 2015 near Makiivka, as well as recent photos by a drone, which confirmed the location of the station in the same area in March and April 2016.
"There was only one element missing in the body of evidence: we needed to get inside the 'Zhitel' station. Hackers of the Trinity group gave us this opportunity. The cloud storage connected to the mobile phone of a Russian serviceman contained two interesting photos. During the analysis, we found that these photos were taken on Jan. 24, 2015 at 7:49 p.m. and 7:51 p.m. Kyiv time using a Lenovo A516 smartphone. They are showing working screens of the R-330Zh 'Zhitel' AJS terminal. The first photo:
"The upper left corner of the screen: The Russian inscription "АСП Р-330Ж" stands for AJS R-330Zh "Zhitel". The lower left corner - the date: 24/01/2015. Also on the map, names of Ukrainian settlements can be identified: Horlivka (marked in red), Zaitseve, and others. The red line with the bundle of rays shows the main direction of signals intelligence effort of this Russian AJS, pointing towards the area of Svitlodarsk, Luhanske, and Popasna.
"For comparison, here is a frame from a SEIMTV channel news piece titled "Electronic warfare troops conduct exercises," clearly identifying our photo as a typical screen of the 'Zhitel' jammer workstation.
"The second picture retrieved from the cloud storage shows the results of a radio frequency mapping in the area at 115-175 MHz band (frequency and directional chart). The vertical axis represents the azimuth of 0 to 360 degrees; the horizontal axis shows the frequencies. Red dots indicate the subscribers that have gone offline, green dots are for the active subscribers. The captured bearings are mainly within 150-175 MHz frequency range, which falls into the VHF band. For example, one of the most popular radios with the Ukrainian servicemen is Baofeng UV-5R, which can operate in the VHF mode at the frequencies of 136-174 MHz. Another thing worth noting is the reflection of the ceiling lamps (typical for the military KUNG modules) in the upper left part of the image.
"For comparison, here is another frame from that SEIMTV piece about the electronic warfare (EW) troops exercises, showing the frequency and directional chart screen.
"The frame from the Russia 1 channel piece from Nizhniy Novgorod of March 30, 2011 titled "EW company on a scheduled field exercise" also allows comparing the ceiling lamps with the one featured in the screen reflection above.
"Let us return to the first photo and try and establish the exact position of the AJS on the basis of the cartographic data. The red label is marking the Vuhlehirsk reservoir near the village of Svitlodarsk, the Donetsk region, Ukraine.
"It is clear that in winter of 2015 the AJS was based in the territory of Horlivka Fire station No 28, at the exact coordinates 48.3103372N 38.1189859E.
"The only open question is whether the station seen in Makiivka and then in Horlivka is the same or if there were several units of this Russian AJS deployed in Ukraine.
"Shown below is the coverage area of this station as positioned on the identified images from Horlivka," the article reads.
In addition to the analysis of the data obtained from hackers, InformNapalm volunteers conducted intelligence of the areas using Google Earth satellite maps to confirm the authenticity of the pictures and our assumptions as to the location of the AJS. Satellite imagery dated Feb. 27, 2015 confirms the presence of R-330Zh 'Zhitel' AJS in the territory of Horlivka city fire station No 28 (the control truck is in the shadow of the building, only its antenna is visible).
"Based on our analysis, we can assert that the station remained in that place roughly from Jan. 24, 2015 to Feb. 27, 2015, exactly at the height of the battle for the city of Debaltseve, which falls within the 25-kilometer coverage zone of this AJS.
"In this publication, we deliberately did not disclose the identity of the Russian soldier who kept secret photos in the cloud, as we foresee further activities in the interest of the investigation.
"There are reasons to believe that the identified station(s) belongs to the 18th Infantry Brigade. From open sources, it is known that R-330Zh 'Zhitel' is in service with the 18th Separate Infantry Brigade (18th SIBr, military base No 27777, Kalinovskaya, the Republic of Chechnya, Russia). The participation of military personnel and equipment of this brigade in the Russian aggression in Donbas has been repeatedly documented by InformNapalm OSINT investigators," the article reads.