New Satellite Imagery Exposes Russian Combat Troops Inside Ukraine

28 Aug 2014

Mons, BELGIUM – NATO released new satellite images on Thursday, 28 August 2014, that show Russian combat forces engaged in military operations inside the sovereign territory of Ukraine. The images, captured in late August, depict Russian self-propelled artillery units moving in a convoy through the Ukrainian countryside and then preparing for action by establishing firing positions in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine.

Dutch Brigadier General Nico Tak, director of the Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Centre (CCOMC), Allied Command Operations said the images confirmed what NATO and its Allies had been seeing for weeks from other sources.

"Over the past two weeks we have noted a significant escalation in both the level and sophistication of Russia’s military interference in Ukraine,” said Brigadier General Tak. "The satellite images released today provide additional evidence that Russian combat soldiers, equipped with sophisticated heavy weaponry, are operating inside Ukraine’s sovereign territory,” he said.

These latest images provide concrete examples of Russian activity inside Ukraine, but are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the overall scope of Russian troop and weapons movements.

"We have also detected large quantities of advanced weapons, including air defence systems, artillery, tanks, and armoured personnel carriers being transferred to separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine,” said Brigadier General Tak. "The presence of these weapons along with substantial numbers of Russian combat troops inside Ukraine make the situation increasingly grave,” he said.

Also released were images showing substantial activity inside Russia in areas adjacent to the border with Ukraine. NATO believes this activity is being conducted in direct support to forces operating inside Ukraine, and is part of a highly coordinated and destabilising strategy.

"Russia is reinforcing and resupplying separatist forces in a blatant attempt to change the momentum of the fighting, which is currently favouring the Ukrainian military," Brigadier General Tak said. "Russia's ultimate aim is to alleviate pressure on separatist fighters in order to prolong this conflict indefinitely, which would result in further tragedy for the people of Eastern Ukraine," he added.

The source of the images is an independent firm named Digital Globe. The images have not been altered or changed by NATO. Additional information has been added to identify locations, dates and equipment. DigitalGlobe images can be independently verified: http://www.digitalglobe.com

Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office
 
Release of Satellite Imagery - 28 August 2014


Image #1 provided by Digital Globe

Image 1 shows Russian military units moving in a convoy formation with self-propelled artillery in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine, well inside territory controlled by Russian separatists. The image was captured on 21 August 2014. There is confidence the equipment is Russian, since Ukrainian units have not yet penetrated this far into separatist controlled territory.
 
 


Image #2 provided by Digital Globe

Image 2 shows Russian self-propelled artillery units set up in firing positions near Krasnodon, Ukraine. They are supported by logistical vehicles which are likely carrying extra ammunition and supplies. This configuration is exactly how trained military professionals would arrange their assets on the ground, indicating that these are not unskilled amateurs, but Russian soldiers. Russian artillery systems like these have recently shelled Ukrainian positions outside the city of Luhansk in conjunction with a separatist counteroffensive to attempt to break the Ukrainian siege of the city.


Image #3 provided by Digital Globe

Image 3 includes two pictures (left and right) and shows a military deployment site on the Russian side of the border, near Rostov-on-Don. This location is approximately 31 miles or 50 kilometres from the Dovzhansky, Ukraine border crossing.
 
The image on the left was captured on 19 June 2014 and shows the area to be mostly empty at this time. The image on the right was taken two months later on 20 August 2014 and shows the same location. Russian main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, cargo trucks and tented accommodations can all be clearly seen. This is one example of the multiple encampments that Russia has positioned near its border with Eastern Ukraine. Many of these forces are deployed within a few kilometers of Ukraine, and are capable of attacking with little warning, and could potentially overwhelm and push-back Ukrainian units. Russia has also moved significant numbers of combat aircraft and helicopters to airfields along the border. Russian unmanned aircraft routinely cross into Ukrainian airspace.
 
Some equipment from these locations is moved across the border and is used to resupply and equip separatist forces operating in Ukraine. For months, Russia has provided separatist fighters with heavy equipment in the form of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, and multiple rocket launchers. Air defense systems have also been provided to separatists, even following the downing of Malaysian airlines flight MH17.
 


Image #4 provided by Digital Globe

Image 4, captured on 23 July 2014, depicts what are probably six Russian 153mm 2S19 self-propelled guns located in Russia near Kuybyshevo. This site is situated 4 miles, or 6.5 kilometres, south of the Ukraine border, near the village of Chervonyi Zhovten. The guns are pointed north, directly towards Ukrainian territory (see North indicator on image). See image 5 for an overview of where these guns are situated in relation to Ukrainian territory.


Image #5 provided by Digital Globe

Image 5 shows a wider overview including the position of the self-propelled guns from image 4. Note the North indicator on this image, and remember that the guns are orientated in this location. It is clear that from this location, it would be impossible NOT to fire into Ukrainian territory. This is clearly NOT an exercise; these guns are being used to support separatist forces operating in the territory of Ukraine.

 

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