Soldier’s ‘selfie’ sparks concerns over Moscow’s role in Ukraine

Russian Soldier selfie published by the Guardian

Soldier’s ‘selfie’ sparks concerns over Moscow’s role in Ukraine

Alexander Sotkin, a Russian soldier, recently uploaded a series of ‘selfie’ images of himself in uniform.  Although the photographs show little of the 24-year-old’s location, the applications geolocation data shows that some of the pictures were taken in Ukraine.

MSN News reported that the photos have ignited concern over Moscow’s denials that it has not intervened in the conflict across its border.

Earlier images posted on Vkontaket (Russian social media) showed Stokin’s location in Russia in the village of Voloshino.  His unit is based in this location.  However, two pictures posted from early July are geotagged across the border in Ukraine, about 6 miles from where Stokin is based.

According to Yahoo News, these photos may be proof that the Russian army has crossed into Ukraine despite denials from Russian authorities.  The Russian Defense Ministry will not comment on the reports.

Other postings from Russian soldiers support the allegations that Russian troops have crossed as well.  “We pounded Ukraine all night,” wrote soldier Vadim Grigoriyev on July 23 under a photo showing two artillery pieces in a wheat field with open shell boxes nearby.

He denied posting the photos.  “They were photos taken a long time ago. Most likely my Vkontakte page was hacked,” Grigoriyev said on Rossiya24.

“Grads toward Ukraine,” wrote another soldier, Mikhail Chugunov, alongside two photos of a rocket launcher on Vkontakte.

According to MSN, Russian MPs have ordered soldiers to stop using social networking sites to share information of potential value to its enemies.

“These soldiers will reveal anything, like that they are in Ukraine, for example, just to show off to their girlfriends,” Russian MP Vadim Soloviev said.

Soloviev, who recently proposed a bill aimed at limiting Internet use by Russian soldiers, believes that over-sharing is a “threat to Russia,” and that information “can be used by Westerners for espionage or disinformation.”

“Soldiers should be subject to rules of confidentiality and if they violate that, they should answer to the disciplinary board,” the MP said.

Military expert Alexandre Golts, deputy editor of Russian website, said it was “difficult to understand how this law could be applied.”  He stated it would be more effective to forbid soldiers from using the Internet entirely.

“We understand why this law is needed,” Golts said. “After all, it is thanks to photos posted by soldiers that the world knew that Russian Special Forces were present in Crimea.”


Here is another selfie published by the Guardian:

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 9.51.01 AM


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