Slidstvo.Info journalists received the contents of the phone of a Russian soldier who fought near Bakhmut in May this year. In this phone, journalists found photos and videos from Russian positions, personal documents of the military and photos of Russian weapons. 

In the video, the Russian contract soldier complains about the conditions of service in the Russian army, the lack of ammunition and food. The video has English subtitles.

Slidstvo.Info journalists identified the Russian occupier. The phone with these materials belongs to Russian soldier Andrey Badakhov. This is a 25-year-old man from Ulyanovsk who, before his participation in the war, worked as a construction worker for the Russian companies Mostpromstroy M and Mip Stroy 1

A photo of him in a military uniform can be found online, and he appears to have served in the police.

Badakhov came to Ukraine as part of the 72nd Separate Motorised Rifle Brigade of the Russian Federation. 

The Institute for the Study of War reported that the 72nd Separate Motorised Rifle Brigade was formed in the Orenburg region of the Russian Federation as part of the 3rd Army Corps, a new formation that mostly consists of volunteer battalions. The 3rd Army Corps was formed specifically for the war in Ukraine. Thus, the Russians wanted to strengthen their positions. 

The Ukrainian armed forces have defeated this brigade twice. In September last year, in the Kharkiv oblast, the media reported that the Ukrainian counter-offensive had destroyed the components of the 3rd Army Corps, including the 72nd Separate Motorised Rifle Brigade. 

This brigade was defeated for the second time in May this year near Bakhmut. The 3rd Assault Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces drove the occupiers out of their positions in the Bakhmut district. According to the Institute of War, Ukrainian forces destroyed the 6th and 8th companies of the 72nd Motorised Rifle Brigade near Bakhmut and advanced 2.6 km along the front line in the area.

Screenshot from a video by the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade

Last May, the 72nd Brigade of the Russian Federation had a conflict with the Wagner PMC. As the Russian soldiers fled the battlefield, Wagner’s fighters lost a lot of personnel. Later, Roman Venevitin, a lieutenant colonel of the 72nd Motorised Rifle Brigade, fired at Wagner‘s vehicles, for which the late Yevhen Prygozhyn took him prisoner and forced him to apologise. 

Roman Venevitin in captivity in the Wagner PMC, a screenshot from Yevhen Prygozhyn’s telegram channel

While the showdown between the Wagner PMC and the 72nd Brigade of the Russian Federation was taking place, Andrey Badakhov was recording his video diary. The occupier was constantly complaining about the conditions of service and the lack of weapons, and demonstrated the flooded trenches.

“It’s been three days since we’ve been on the defensive. We are holding on to our dugout, which is sinking. Today we shot down a quadcopter, but it turned out to be ours,” Andriy tells his wife about one day on the job.

The man served with another Russian soldier, Sergey Mikhailov. In all the videos recorded on the phone, the men appear together.

Sergey Mikhailov, a photo from the phone of a Russian soldier

Sergey Sergeevich Mikhailov, Badakhin’s “colleague”, is from the same Ulyanovsk oblast. Before joining the war, Sergey worked at the Dmitrograd Component Plant, which manufactures components for transport. He was a “machine and automatic line adjuster for the production of plastic products”. 

“Less than ten days later, we were reduced by half. Two were injured, and one was even killed. They sent more men, but it got neither better nor worse. So the three of us are still fighting here,” Sergey says in one of the videos about his new life.

Both men are contract soldiers. They had previously served in the army and decided to return to the Russian army in 2023. 

Slidstvo.Info journalists found documents in Andrey’s phone that confirm this. In particular, the order of the leadership of the military unit No. 13637, which is part of the 72nd Brigade, to enlist Andrey in the Russian armed forces for two years, and Sergey for six months. Both men were to be drivers.

Thus, both Andrey and Sergey deliberately came to Ukraine to seize other people’s land and commit war crimes. 

According to Slidstvo.Info, in 2021, Andrey worked two jobs. At the time, the man received about $500 a month. His “colleague” Sergey earned about $400 a month. Both men also had debts. 

For their service in the army, the newly recruited Russian soldiers were promised to be paid about $2,500 as a lump sum and about $400 per month. This is according to the contract signed by the military, excluding allowances. In total, the Russian Ministry of Defence promised the military more than $2,000 a month.

A screenshot from Russian propaganda media

The last video from the Russian soldier’s phone is dated 15 May 2023. According to Slidstvo.Info, Andrey Badakhov was killed during a counter-offensive by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. 

In one of the last shots, Andrey complains about the conditions of service and says: “Don’t come here, you don’t need it”.

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