KYIV, May 7 - The Bellingcat investigative group said that it identified nine Russian officers who allegedly were directly involved in the rocket attack on an eastern Ukrainian city that killed at least 30 civilians in January 2015, The Associated Press reported.
The findings corroborate a investigation by the SBU, the Ukrainian security service, which had separately established involvement of Russia’s regular servicemen in the attack on Mariupol.
The Bellingcat group, which has previously released reports on the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the fatal downing of a Malaysian airliner over rebel-held territory, says it analyzed video and audio data that Ukraine is providing to the International Court of Justice.
Mariupol, a strategic port city on the Azov Sea, came under rocket fire on Jan. 24, 2015. Separatist rebels initially announced they were advancing on the city, then backtracked and blamed Ukrainian forces.
Russia persistently denies allegations of supporting separatist rebels in Ukraine. The Defense Ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment on Monday’s report.
Meanwhile, the investigators of the SBU have established the involvement of regular servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces in a missile attack on the Skhidny residential district of Mariupol on January 24, 2015, which killed 31 people and injured 117 more, SBU Chief Vasyl Hrytsak said Monday.
"During the investigation conducted by our investigators and operatives, it was established and documented that this crime had been committed by regular Russian servicemen. This terrorist attack was carried out by two regular missile divisions of the Russian Armed Forces. From Russian territory the operation was directly led by Chief of Missile Forces and Artillery of the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces Major-General Stepan Yaroshchuk and in the temporarily occupied Donetsk the shelling was directed by Colonel of the Russian Armed Forces Alexander Tsaplyuk with the call sign 'Gorets'," he said at a briefing in Kyiv on Monday.
He said that the SBU would transfer to the International Court of Justice (ICC) part of the materials on the events in Mariupol in 2015, in particular, intercepted negotiations. (ap/ez)