Russia’s Forces may Have Used Ukrainian Airfield

Part of my daily routine is taking a spin around the conflict area using Google Earth. Although some areas inside Russia can be viewed in 2018, most of eastern Ukraine is on average a year behind. However as these images show, despite the year long time lag, there’s still lots to see.

Probably a legacy of when part of Russia, Ukraine has lots of small and remote airfields spread across the country. These would have been used by light aircraft and helicopters. Today many of them lie disused, nature slowly reclaiming their concrete runways and parking areas. Relatively close to the Russian border, one such airfield is located near the launch site of the Russian BUK missile which downed flight MH17.

airfield 1
Sept 21st 2015.

On the airfield, 2015 images show Russian tanks, trucks, military vehicles and a new building/tent. What’s interesting is the cleared circle area (marked red), and the large number of vehicle tracks. This may indicate Russian military helicopters used it.

2015 saw some of the most intense fighting inside Ukraine. Russian forces were pushing deep into the country, but finding Ukrainian resistance stiffening by the day. Russian military helicopters would almost certainly have been used for the rapid evacuation of badly wounded Russian soldiers. Remote and far away enough away from the front line and Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems, this airfield would have been ideal. Satellite images after 2015 don’t indicate any use by Russian forces.

airfield 4
Sept 12th 2015.

airfield 2
July 2010. Airfield becoming overgrown. Note helicopter landing pad marked out in top area.

airfield 3
Yellow square marks site of Russian BUK launcher which shot down flight MH17.
Red square marks the location of the airfield. This border area was back then and still is today, a major invasion route for Russian military entering/exiting Ukraine.


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