Revealed by Bellingcat and their partners: Identities, including photos of Russian cruise missile flight path programmers and their military commanders.
Associated image attribution: Dsns.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The photo shows the emergency service of Ukraine disposing the warhead of a Russian Kalibr cruise missile.
Updated 3rd May 2023. Reason for update. A related YouTube video has appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s YouTube channel.
A report recently published by Bellingcat reveals, according to telephone data, that contacts between these programmers and their commanders spiked just before many of the Russian cruise missile strikes that killed hundreds and denied millions of people in Ukraine access to electricity and heating.
Image attribution: Kyivcity.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Read the full article and view the photos of Russian military commanders and their subordinates.
Photo source and article: The Remote Control Killers Behind Russia’s Cruise Missile Strikes on Ukraine. Bellingcat. 24 October 2022. Online.
Updated 03 May 2023: The Bellingcat article featured here has recently featured on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s YouTube channel. Death Of A Journalist: How RFE/RL’s Vira Hyrych Was Killed By A Russian Missile. External link.
Should Bellingcat have gone public with this?
I do not think so. By going public, Bellingcat immediately alerted all the actors in this aggression. The insecure methods of communication used by these programmers were, I am sure, immediately replaced by more robust practices.
It can be argued that the Russian cruise missile flight path programmers could have had access to the open source information published by Bellingcat, should they have bothered to find it. Clearly they were incompetent to the degree that they did not realise that their methods of communication were insecure.
What could Bellingcat have done differently?
They could have shared this information with western intelligence, who would, I am sure, have shared this with Ukrainian intelligence. This would have enabled Ukraine to gain seconds of extra time to prepare for the missile attacks. These could have been seconds that might have saved lives and integrity of some Ukrainian infrastructure.
While there are multiple website publications about this story, no one seems to have pointed out, as far as I am aware, that another course of action, as outlined above, could have been the better option.
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