Eliot Higgins Profile picture
Oct 24, 2022 20 tweets 9 min read Read on X
Ever wonder how Russian cruise missiles find their way into Ukrainian playgrounds, power stations, and apartment buildings? Well thanks to @bellingcat’s @christogrozev wonder no more. It’s time to meet the team behind the targeting of Russian missiles on civilian infrastructure. Image
Scourge of the Russian intelligence services, Christo Grozev, has spent the last several months piecing together the team responsible for programming Russian cruise missiles launched at targets in Ukraine, frequently hitting civilian infrastructure. Image
The missile programmers are part of the Russian Armed Forces’ vast Main Computation Centre of the General Staff (GVC), and working with @the_ins_ru and @derspiegel we’ve identified the 33 military engineers involved with cruise missile attacks in Ukraine. bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-eu…
Some of the members of this unit also took part in planning cruise missile attacks on targets in Syria and/or worked at Russia's military command centre in Damascus. Some are also recipients of various military awards, including from Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Image
The unit within the GVC that we identified appears to consist of three teams of approximately 10 engineers each, with each team dedicated to programming flight-paths of one specific high-precision missile type, launched from the sea, land, and air. Image
The direct commander of the missile pre-planners sub-unit appears to be Col. Igor Bagnyuk. This was established on the basis of the analysis of telephone data of eleven members of the group of engineers obtained from data sources on the Russian black data market. Image
One of the team members, Maj. Andrey Ivanyutin, can be seen in the background of this photograph of a meeting between President Putin and Syrian President Assad held in a secure Russian compound in Damascus in January 2021 Image
By examining telephone metadata from the members of the unit it has been possible to link phone activity to attacks on Ukraine, including the October 10th strikes on Kyiv. Image
During the investigation we discovered Lt. Col. Bagnyuk was also an active user of the auction website Avito.ru, where he actively sells coins, even taking time to do so during the attack of Kyiv.
His current offerings include a medal awarded by President Putin in 2014. Based on descriptions of other offerings of the same type of medal, it was awarded “for contribution to the organisation of the Sochi Olympics”. Image
Phone records of Bagnyuk and his subordinates from the weeks prior to the 10 October attacks shows a surge of communication starting on 2 October and peaking on 9 October, with a total of 11 calls to engineers made on the last day before the strikes. Image
Prior to 2 October there was a lull of communication for approximately two weeks, consistent also with the absence of reports of intensive cruise missile use. This suggests that the planning for the 10 October attack began approximately one week earlier.
This timing also implies that the attack on the energy infrastructure and Kyiv may not have been a direct consequence of the partial destruction of the Kerch Bridge in Crimea on 8 October 2022.
Bellingcat and @the_ins_ru approached multiple members of the unit, who responded in a variety of ways. Capt. Sergey Ilyin, who spoke with Bagnyuk by phone more than 30 times over the last four months claimed he was a self employed plumber, despite photos of him in uniform. Image
Another member of the team appearing in Bagnyuk’s phone calls around the time of missile attacks was Artem Vedenov. He took our call and confirmed his name, but said he works on a farm, and offered to the reporter to explain how to butcher a pig or pluck a chicken.
More details of the investigation, and the responses from the unit’s members can be found on the Bellingcat website: bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-eu…
The Russian language version can be found on @the_ins_ru, with added details, including DMs between one of the programmers and prostitute, can be found here theins.ru/politika/255158
We did try to buy this medal so Christo could wear it during interviews about the article, but it didn't work out as Bagnyuk had to go away for work
Bellingcat's @Michael1Sheldon also managed to geolocate the group photo to the Russian MoD building in Moscow, but we couldn't fit that into the article: ImageImageImage
Bellingcat is a charity, so if you'd like to support our work you can donate through this link bellingcat.com/donate/

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More from @EliotHiggins

Jun 7
🧵 I think what's key to answering this question is recognising that how we encounter and consume information has changed dramatically over the last 15 years, and this has particularly impacted Gen Z and Gen Alpha
We’ve shifted from a top-down, gatekeeped model of information consumption (for example getting our news from newspapers and TV news), to a more peer-to-peer relationship with information thanks to social media.
That also changes how we interact with information, where we’re more active participants in that flow of information, in both how we respond to it, and how we share it. Importantly, we have to understand that for Gen Z and Gen Alpha this is their default state.
Read 16 tweets
Jun 6
Reposting this to make the point clearer, this is a real image that is being dismissed as AI because of a crap AI detection website that doesn't actually work, because AI gives people a permission structure to deny reality. A video of the incident is here aljazeera.com/program/newsfe…

Image
It's not the first time I've seen someone do this with Israel and Gaza. Bad AI detection tools are used to deny reality, but ultimately people who don't want to believe something is true will just dismiss it as AI generated anyway.
It's no different from calling every video from Gaza Pallywood, or claiming the White Helmets fake videos in Syria. It's just propagandists creating a permission structure to deny reality.
Read 4 tweets
Jun 2
🧵 I've been digging into this, and it's pretty clear that part of this campaign against Graham Phillips is driven by an article on a fake news website that appears to be run by John Mark Dougan himself.
I'm not sure where this all started, but the first time the spat appears to have gone public is this post by Graham Phillips about John Mark Dougan, stating "Dougan is accused of having 'gone rogue', and suspected of having taken money from western agencies." t.me/grahamwphillip…Image
The following day, John Mark Dougan posted this now deleted Telegram post, making various allegations and linking to an article on a site called "ukpoliticking", published on the same day. t.me/BadVolfNews/16…
Image
Read 14 tweets
Apr 3
Several weeks ago the FvD's @PvanHouwelingen submitted questions to the Ministry of Justice based on reporting by @AndereKrant and @TheGrayzoneNews. Last week those answers were received, but neither Pepijn nor the two publications cited have reported on them. Let's find out why. Image
Just before Christmas the @AndereKrant and @TheGrayzoneNews published false claims that Bellingcat had submitted an article to the Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) ahead of publication to allegedly ‘attack journalists’. Image
@AndereKrant @TheGrayzoneNews These allegations appear to have been entirely based on claims made by @CeesCees72, apparently without any attempt to fact check the claim made in his tweet:
Read 11 tweets
Mar 5
The new OECD report is one of the better examples of an intergovernmental report on dealing with disinformation, and actually gets it's not just about factchecking, but also creating a cycle that includes transparency and accountability. oecd.org/publications/f…
Image
I believe that the current issues we face with disinformation are symptoms of a broader social and cultural shift that has occurred over the last 15 years, and Bellingcat and open source investigation is also part of the same shift.
One fundamental issue is people, especially in Western democracies, feel increasingly detached from political process, and don't feel part of the democratic process. It creates a sense of total disempowerment, and that draws them to online communities.
Read 13 tweets
Mar 1
Anyone who has followed George Galloway knows his head consists entirely of tankie brain worms, having taken a denialist position on a wide range of war crimes and atrocities in Syria, Ukraine, and elsewhere, because he sees the victims as being on the side of "imperialists"
So look forward to some tired tankie bullshit being repeated in Parliament on the rare days he bothers to turn up.
There's noting maverick about taking the opposite side to whatever you imagine is in the interests of the west and then denying a bunch of war crimes to justify your position.. It's boring, tedious, and basic, Twitter is full of idiots like that.
Read 6 tweets

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