2,300 Unmarked Graves in Russian Occupied Ukraine

With Google Earth having updated into 2018, I thought I’d pay another visit to two cemeteries in occupied Ukraine. 

It should be noted, these are two cemeteries holding large numbers of burials. In addition there are also several smaller ones with a good many suspicious looking graves within them. To be added to this grim reaper total, are the known soldiers burials in Russia and 5 years of OSCE reporting detailing vehicles taking bodies out of Ukraine into Russia. We also know of Russian mothers having talked about their soldier sons having gone missing. All in all, we are talking evidence of many thousands of Russian soldiers and mercenaries having been killed in Ukraine.

Bringing all this together, later this week I hope to post an updated video and write up a more detailed blog post with links to all the evidence.

Russia’s Mass Military Graves in Ukraine.
I’ve reported on this first, secluded cemetery before. Incredibly, up to May 2018, it now holds at least 1,100 unmarked graves. In the town of Makiivka, on the outskirts of the occupied city of Donetsk, unusual burials started here back in June/July 2014. What makes them distinctive and suspicious, is the fact they are deliberately separated from local burials. All remain unmarked. The cemetery is remote, and it’s not designated as an official cemetery used to bury soldiers. Also worth adding the apparent, closely packed nature of the burials and the absence of any worn paths between the graves, where people have walked between them.

Yes, you might argue some of the earlier graves maybe unknown civilians tragically caught up in the heavy fighting during 2014/15, but with burials taking place in the many cemeteries across the entire occupied territory, this explanation seems highly unlikely. You might also consider these to be graves of so-called Ukrainian “separatists,” but again, with on-going burials since 2014, why do they all lack headstones, or signs of maintenance? With a static front line since around April 2015, it’s doubtful that many genuine Ukrainian military “separatists” who subsequently died after that time, would be unknown to their fellow fighters. So why so many unmarked & abandoned graves?

Russia's cannon fodder 4
Looking down on the cemetery. Coordinates: 47 59 52.78 N 38 0 4.90 E.
On the Left: Bordered by a path, local burials continue in the small, formal cemetery.
Along the top: Three sections mark the location of unmarked graves.

April 2018: Close-up of the unmarked graves. No 1 section on the right, which holds around 150 graves was used first, then number 2 centre section, and lastly number 3.

July 2014: First burials in number 1 section.

graves 1
Aug 2015: Burials continuing in number 1 section & number 2 now in use.
Note large numbers of pre-dug graves in both sections.

Russia's cannon fodder 3
April 8th 2018 number 2 Centre section. Note the heavily used vehicle tracks which lead to all three sections. Satellite images show vans and trucks near the burials. One assumes these are linked to the digging of the graves and disposing of bodies.

Grave numbers in this section are roughly 32 across, by (so far) 24 deep. This gives a total edging towards 800 graves in just this one section. Up to May 2018, there’s no evidence of any headstones having been erected, or the normal improvements made to graves by family and friends.

2014/15 saw heavy fighting right across eastern Ukraine, along with a large influx of Russian mercenaries and regular Russian army personnel. With burials at this site every year, the only logical explanation is, these are the forgotten, last resting place of soldiers. I would say the majority are Russian mercenaries, but some may indeed be regular Russian soldiers.

We do know Russia takes some of its dead out of Ukraine. But I suspect, if you have no family/friends able or willing to get your body out, you simply end up shoved in a Ukrainian hole and forgotten. It’s also worth considering, that in order to stop large numbers of on-going burials all over Russia, which would attract unwelcome media attention and awkward questions, Putin may have ordered many of the dead to be buried in Ukraine.

A location 1
Number 2 section May 4th 2018: Green shows the overgrown nature of the graves.  

A location
Yellow box marks the cemetery’s location. Blue box, the cemetery detailed below. 

The second cemetery is located a few kilometers away.
In the Proletarskyi district of Donetsk city, this one is reported by Russia’s Donetsk republic, as the official burial site for its soldiers. Like the previous cemetery, satellite imagery tell us burials began here in July 2014. Fast forward to May 4th 2018 and we can see around 1,200 have taken place. Coordinates: 47 55 59.93 N 37 56 43.47 E.

This means these two cemeteries hold at least 2,300 mostly unmarked graves. Some of the marked military graves in this cemetery are likely to be those of Ukrainians.

Russia's cannon fodder 8
The yellow box marks the location of the military burials. Above this area, local civilian burials continue. Old cemetery area is across the road on the right.

Employees unload a truck transporting coffins near graves of pro-Russian separatists at the Sixth Capital municipal graveyard on the edge of Donetsk
Aug 2014: Coffins brought into the cemetery by truck.

Aug 2014 video of the cemetery. A tractor digger is seen used to dig the graves and quickly cover them over. 

2016 video of the cemetery.

Traditionally for a year whilst the ground settles and allows for the erecting of a head stone, graves are marked with a simple wooden cross. But, one would still expect to see name tags, photos and flowers etc. The numbers in the above picture are probably cemetery reference numbers, rather than signifying the total number of graves.

As seen below, the majority of the graves still don’t have headstones. If these are so-called local Ukrainian “separatists,” why are so many of their graves left unmarked?

May 4th 2018: Close up of the military burials. 
In contrast to the previous cemetery, some of the graves, but far from all, are marked with headstones and surrounding borders. These tend to show up as white or black.
Note the pre-dug graves on the top left.

From videos put out by Russia’s Donetsk republic, we know the graves here are tended and kept in order. We can see paths between the graves and none of them look to be overgrown with weeds. Contrast this to the heavily overgrown and untended graves in the previous cemetery.

July 2014: Start of the military burials.

Location of cemetery.

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