Journalists published a new report, estimating approximate numbers of Russia's troops in Eastern Ukraine based on the images of the medals they had been presented with
Journalists from Bellingcat have published a new report, unveiling the numbers of Russian soldiers, most likely involved in combat in Eastern Ukraine.
According to the document, more than ten thousand Russian troop either fought in Donbas or contributed to the fighting.
The report is based on the analysis of identified servicemen who published photos of their medals. The experts say, most of the higher Russian medals have ‘a consecutive numbering, explicitly stating the number of medals awarded so far'.
Bellingcat journalists claim that photos of two medals, presented at different dates, allow to calculate the overall number of medals, awarded between both dates. They say, the number of awards, presented by Russia significantly increased during the conflict in Donbas.
‘The large number of awarded medals "For Distinction in Combat", 4300 awards between 07.11.2014 and 18.02.2016, strongly suggests larger combat operations with active Russian military involvement in this period', the report says.
February 18, mentioned in the reports, is the date of fierce fighting in Debaltseve, where Russian-backed separatist forces managed to take control of the town, directly violating the Minsk agreements.
The analysts say, considering that not every soldier is usually presented with the medal, it's possible to conclude that the numbers of Russian troops in Donbas likely reached tens of thousands. They admit, though, exact data is near impossible to uncover.
‘The most direct evidence could be provided by the Russian bureaucracy. However, such an information is also most likely a Russian state secret and not publicly available', the report says.