Some Google Earth satellite imagery I’ve looked at this week.
First up is Russia’s large military fuel depot at IIoviask.
If it weren’t for Russia sending vast quantities of fuel into Ukraine for its tanks and military hardware, there simply wouldn’t be any conflict. Through the 409km of Ukraine’s border captured and controlled by Russia, fuels sent in by road and rail. Along with numerous road border crossings, Russia also has access to two Ukrainian rail lines.
Seen below in May 2018.
The town of IIoviask was probably chosen due to the need to keep such a vulnerable military target well away from the front line. From here, road convoys can easily transport fuel across the occupied parts of the Donetsk Oblast (province).
Coordinates: 47 54 58.54 N 38 11 37.63 E.
To give them added protection, large, white, fuel tanks have been positioned inside the buildings. Some smaller fuel containers can be seen on the bottom right.
Feb 2015: Russian military fuel trucks and 2 rows of small fuel containers arrived in the previously disused industrial compound.
Yellow marks the fuel depot.
Red marks a rail goods yard used to unload military supplies from trains.
The rail goods yard shown in previous image.
We can see numerous military transport trucks, some with their canvas roof covers removed. The red square marks a train engine. Conveniently, the rail line it’s on, leads direct into the large building on the left. Handy for unloading stuff which you don’t want anyone to see. On another rail line leading into this enclosed compound, the yellow marks two loaded rail cargo wagons.
Closer look at the train engine and transport trucks.
Satellite images show a military presence here from at least 2016.
Location of IIovaisk. It’s just 15km away from the occupied city of Donetsk.
Border Crossing at Kuznetsi.
In the Donetsk Oblast, down on Ukraine’s south coast, this small and remote crossing was previously closed. 2013 satellite images show it blocked by earth banks and ditches. But, with Russia’s 2014 invasion of eastern Ukraine, it was cleared and reopened by the Russian army. Satellite images show it in use by Oct 2014, but it was probably reopened in Aug/Sept. Russian supply and troop convoys use it to gain access to the nearby military base at Svobodne, and military positions in front of the Ukrainian held city of Mariupol.
What sparked my renewed interest in the crossing?
It’s the below May 2018 image. Highlighted in yellow, we can see Russia’s constructed a building next to the crossing. This maybe connected with countering OSCE monitoring along the border, especially their use of long range UAV flights. Since 2018, the OSCE has frequently filmed military convoys entering and exiting Ukraine via Russia.
Hidden in the trees on the Russian side of the border, the building may house military jamming equipment, used to disrupt OSCE, UAV flights. Also, soldiers will be stationed there to better guard the crossing and stop military traffic from using it, should OSCE vehicle patrols be seen in the area. This is yet another indication of how Russia has full and unrestricted access to Ukraine’s eastern border.
My video on some of the Russian convoys filmed crossing the border by the OSCE.
July 2017: No building.
Small village of Kuznetsi.
Oct 2013: The blocked border crossing.
Oct 2014: Ditches and banks have been cleared and the crossing reopened.
Kuznetsi. Russia’s forces hold much of the area leading west to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. They also control the official Ukrainian border crossing opposite the Russian village of Maksimov (bottom of yellow line). The advantage of the Kuznetsi crossing is it’s not used by civilian traffic, and crucially, OSCE vehicle patrols can easily be stopped well before they get near it.
Svobodne village & Russian military base (top left) is just 22km away.
Svobodne military base.
Satellite imagery shows Russian military having starting the construction of this large base in Oct 2015. Coordinates: 47 22 32.64 N 38 3 58.92 E.