Following a six-month investigation by Bellingcat, The Insider, and Der Spiegel, it was discovered that the Russian military’s “Main Computation Centre of the General Staff” used dozens of military engineers secretly to reportedly program missile flight routes.
The report states that these attacks on civilian targets “indicate that either the missiles did not follow their pre-programmed flight route, that targeting was based on inaccurate intelligence information, or that civilian injury was purposeful.” According to phone records discovered throughout the inquiry, the employees were engaged and in contact with their managers right before some of the Russian strikes. According to the research, the covert group is primarily made up of young people with backgrounds in computer gaming or information technology, some of whom have training in or experience with missile programming. The rest reportedly didn’t answer calls, refused to speak, or denied affiliation with the group. One member who was approached by the investigators shared anonymously that “certain contextual information about how the group was tasked with manually programming the sophisticated flight paths of Russia’s high-precision cruise missiles.”