SHAPE, BELGIUM - NATO is providing a series of
images (see below) to the public in order to inform debate regarding recent events in the
border region of Russia and Ukraine.
The imagery shows that on 30 May in
Rostov-na-Donu, a Russian unit was deployed, but no tanks were present at the
time the image was taken.
Imagery from the 6th of
June shows the Russian unit departing, which we believe was part of a Russian announcement
to pull troops back from the border region. In the context of this
overall withdrawal, 8 main battle tanks are shown to have arrived.
On the 11th of June, 10
main battle tanks can be seen at the site. 3 of these are parked, 4 are
in the training area, and 3 are loaded heavy equipment transport trucks that
are normally used to move tanks, likely indicating imminent movement by
On the 12th of June, Ukrainian officials
report that 3 main battle tanks and several armoured vehicles crossed the border
at the Dovzhanskyy border crossing, which was under the control of pro-Russian
elements of the so-called "People’s Republic of Luhansk.” Sightings of
these tanks were later reported in open sources in Snizhne and then Makiivka,
near Donetsk. The tanks do not bear markings or camouflage paint like
those used by the Ukrainian military. In fact, they do not have markings
at all, which is reminiscent of tactics used by Russian elements that were
involved in destabilising Crimea.
- Map of referenced areas
These images raise significant
questions concerning Russia’s role in facilitating instability in eastern
Ukraine and its involvement in the movement of military equipment from Russian
territory into Ukraine. Russian officials have been repeatedly
misleading and evasive regarding their roles in both Crimea and eastern
Ukraine. It is important to bring relevant facts to light in an effort to
ensure Russia remains publicly accountable for its actions.
If these latest reports are
confirmed, this would mark a grave escalation of the crisis in eastern Ukraine
in violation of Russia’s Geneva commitments.
Yesterday the NATO Secretary General
expressed his concern over
these reports and again urged Russia to
complete the withdrawal of its military forces on the border with Ukraine, to
stop the flow of weapons and fighters across the border, and to exercise its
influence among armed separatists to lay down their weapons and renounce
violence. He called on the Russian Federation to meet its Geneva
commitments and cooperate with the government of Ukraine as it implements its
plans for promoting peace, unity and reform.
The following images are of a deployment site near Rostov-na-Donu, in southwest Russia.
Graphic 1 - The image on the left, dated May 30, 2014 shows the deployment of a Russian military unit. This unit was deployed to this location as part of Russia’s build-up of forces along its border with Ukraine. This location is approximately 75 Kilometres (KM), from the Dovzhanskyy, Ukraine border crossing. By road, this is 90 KM to the Ukraine border. Please note there are NO Main Battle Tanks (MBT) on this image.
The middle image, dated June 6, 2014, shows the departure of the Russian military unit. However, it shows the arrival of 8 Main Battle Tanks, which were not present on the May 30, 2014 image.
The image on the right, dated June 11, 2014, indicates overall, there are 10 Main Battle Tanks in the area (3 parked, 4 in training area, and 3 on low loaders). The next graphic will provide more detail.
Graphic 2 - Taking a more detailed look at this third image dated June 11, 2014, we can now see there are actually 10 Russian Main Battle Tanks in this area. (Top left inset) Three
are in the parking area. (Two right insets) Four
are in the training
areas. (Bottom left inset)
Three Main Battle
Tanks loaded onto Low
Loaders, also referred
to as Heavy Equipment
Transporters. This is
the primary method of
moving Main Battle
Tanks over road
Graphic 3 - Video posted on the internet June 11, 2014, has shown 2 T-64 tanks driving through Makiivka, Ukraine at the intersection of Sverdlova St and Donbasu Ave. These tanks are accompanied by a vehicle flying the Russian flag. Please note, none of these vehicles have markings. This is consistent with Russian vehicles and equipment that were deployed to Crimea.
Graphic 4 - The second image, also taken from a video posted on the internet June 11, 2014, shows a lone T-64 driving through Snizhne, Ukraine. Please note this tank also
has no markings on it.
Graphic 5 - These final unclassified images depict a Ukrainian T-64 with the lone T-64 driving through Snizhne, Ukraine. Please note the difference in the paint schemes.
According to Open Source reporting, Russia still has approximately 2,000 T-64 Main Battle Tanks which it has phased out of service and were slated for destruction. It is highly likely a large number of tanks are still operational.
Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office