The forecasting about Russia’s misinformation campaign aimed at diverting attention to another ‘unsuitable’ target in matters of supplying weapons to Hamas militants for attacking Israel was confirmed.
On October 7, RLI warned that by using its warm relations with Hezbollah, Russia would send to the Gaza Strip a few units of weaponry captured on Ukraine’s battlefields – as evidence to back their claims.
More on this story: Hamas assault on Israel suggests external support, planning
The next day, October 8, Russian affiliated military intelligence-Telegram channels were actively spreading a fake story claiming that Israeli soldiers near Ashkelon had found a pickup truck with a Soviet-made RPG-7 anti-tank grenade. The weapon allegedly had markings of a ‘Ukrainian unit from Mukachevo, Zakarpattia region’.
As we know, this weapon belongs to the 128th mountain infantry brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. While studying the materials, we came to the conclusion that this is the part of the weapons (including Soviet RPG-7 and AGS-17 automatic grenade launchers) the mentioned unit lost in December 2022 near the village of Pidgorodne, one mile in the north- east of Bakhmut town. They left the weapon while withdrawing from its positions, which came under the control of the Wagner PMC militants.
In this way Ukrainian Soviet-type weapons were transported by the Wagner Group to Russian territory, then the ammunition was sent by Russian Aerospace Forces to the Khmeimim airbase, Syria, and further to the training bases of Hezbollah and Hamas fighters in the vicinity of Damascus. However, we found evidence of Hamas militants being armed with Russian export AK-103-2 assault rifles.
Islamic Jihad fighter with AO-103-2 assault rifle.
In 2019, we tracked illegal AK-103 rifles sales on the Iraqi market after the Assad regime government supplying the guns.
The AK-103 entered service in Russia in 1993, precluding its placement in Soviet-era warehouses. Thus, these facts confirm the Kremlin’s involvement in the preparation and organization of the Hamas operation against Israel. As far as we know the Wagner and Redut mercenaries trained Palestinians at the training bases in Syria. Since both Russian units are under the operational control of the Main Directorate of the General Staff (formerly the GRU), the transfer of captured weapons to the Middle East is part of Russians’ preparations of the special operations in the region and may indicate that the attack on Israel could have been planned in the spring-summer of 2023.
Moreover, we think that there is a high possibility that Russian PMCs could enter the arms market by supplying both captured and Russian Soviet-style weapons to paramilitary and terrorist groups in the Middle East and Africa.
Prior, we published a report on ties and supplies of Russian weapons to terrorist organizations in the Middle East; in particular, the weapons were used during attack an Israeli school bus.
More on this story: Russia is staking on the Hezbollah
It is unlikely that the Israeli Merkava battle tanks were destroyed by Palestinian operators launching civilian drones equipped with a combat element drop system. Such an accuracy proves a high-skilled training and practice of the drone operators.According to our estimates, the UAV operators were trained by Iranian or Russian specialists who have got their skills during the war against Ukraine.