The infamous Russian 53rd anti-aircraft brigade fought last year in Izium, Kharkiv Oblast, according to the American NPR radio. This is the unit that in 2014 took part in the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines plane flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over Ukraine. 298 people died then.
NPR, which relies on Ukrainian intelligence, reports that for much of 2022, the infamous brigade was involved in fighting around the city of Izium in the northern Kharkiv region Ukraine.
Since the downing of a Malaysian airliner in 2014, Russia’s 53rd airborne brigade has become an “international pariah,” at least among war crimes investigators. According to the radio, the fact that the unit is fighting in Ukraine today means that “the Russian president is mocking the rest of the world.”
– This unit did not suffer any consequences after shooting down the Malaysia Airlines plane. She has not been held accountable for the crimes she has committed,” George Barros, a security analyst at NPR, told NPR. Russia at the War Research Institute. He added that this shows the “systematic manner” in which Russia violates international law.
A key unit of the Russian army
NPR points out that although it is known about the brigade’s involvement in military operations in Ukraine, the exact locations where it was stationed and fought are difficult to determine.
As NPR writes, the Russian 53rd Air Brigade specializes in anti-aircraft missile systems. “Unlike infantry or mechanized units, its members do not fight on the front lines, where photos of captured prisoners of war can be used to provide information about the unit’s activities and whereabouts,” explains American radio.
“The military is making significant efforts to hide its key assets on the battlefield,” explains Barros. “Fifty-three is definitely one of them, because it was created to protect units on the front line from air attacks,” adds the expert.
Malaysian plane crash
On July 17, 2014, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down in eastern Ukraine by a Buk surface-to-air missile. 283 passengers and 15 crew members died.
In November last year, the district court in The Hague, in justification of the sentence sentencing two Russians, Sergei Dubinsky and Igor Girkin, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko to life imprisonment for their part in the downing of the plane, stated that “there is no doubt that the plane MH17 was shot down at using the Buk surface-to-air missile.
The investigation shows that the missile system that was used to shoot down the plane belonged to the Russian 53rd anti-aircraft brigade. At the same time, the international Joint Investigation Teams (JIT) announced in February that there are “strong indications” that Vladimir Putin decided to hand over to the separatists in Ukraine the weapons that were used to down the Malaysian plane.
Main photo source: ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/PAP/EPA