Since Sept 2014, Russia’s had total control over 409km of Ukraine’s eastern border. The area stretches from the south coast and the sea of Azov, up to the border area roughly parallel with the Ukrainian city of Luhansk.
August 27th 2018 situation map.
The Red line shows the Ukrainian border controlled by Russia. Light beige colour is the area of Ukraine occupied by Russia-led forces. Control of the border gives Russia access to 12 official Ukrainian road border crossings and 2 rail lines. I say official, as the Russian army also uses several previously closed Ukrainian crossings which they’ve reopened. Marked by a red square, for this article we focus on the Ukrainian town of IIovaisk.
On the main rail line from Russia into Ukraine, IIovaisk makes for an ideal supply depot. Close to Donetsk city, military convoys can easily transfer rail goods by road up to the front line and the towns rail junction also has lines branching off to other parts of occupied Ukraine.
By early 2015 Russia started converting IIovaisk into a rail military supply depot.
A – Is a rail goods yard. Used for the delivery of military supplies.
B – Is a large fuel supply depot.
A – The rail good yard.
June 2017: Importantly to avoid prying eyes (but not eyes from space), trains can enter the goods yard and the yards gates can be shut behind them. This is important as should an OSCE patrol arrive, they can simply be denied entry. Marked in yellow are two rail carriages and in the top, a train engine. Clustered around them are Russian transport trucks, with a number of them having open tops.
July 2017: 5 rail carriages can be seen, along with a large number of military transport trucks.
Highlighted in yellow square, here we can see the engine from the June 2017 image. The gates and rail line indicate trains can drive into the large industrial building. This would be a bonus should you want to better hide the unloading of military supplies and military vehicles.
Feb 2015: Outside we can see 3 rail carriages and a number of military vehicles clustered around one of them. In the top, a train has entered the building, with two of its carriages seen sticking out of the gates.
July 2017: Here we see the military fuel depot. The white containers are fuel tanks.
Russian transport and fuel trucks can be seen parked and exiting the depot.
Feb 2015: Russian fuel trucks have arrived. Previous satellite images show this yard was disused.
Sept 2015: On the far right, some smaller white fuel tanks have been positioned in place.
Oct 2016: Larger white fuel tanks have now been positioned in the buildings.