With Google Earth having updated, it’s a chance to see what Russia’s forces have been up to both inside & outside of eastern Ukraine. My first port of call was to check up on the vast Russian ammunition supply depot at Russkoye. Located inside Russia, just a few kilometres from the Ukrainian border, it started to be built back in Aug 2014. One gigantic open-air structure, there’s no doubt whatsoever, its sole purpose was to supply Russian forces invading and then subsequently occupying eastern Ukraine. Using UAV, the OSCE even filmed and photographed numerous military convoys crossing the border near the depot; convoys which were almost certainly carrying ammunition.
Check out my previous post for info on OSCE films and imagery related to the Russkoye ammo depot. Dept Coordinates: 47°45’4.39″N 38°57’56.93″E
My video on the Russkoye ammo depot.
Well, the depot has now completely disappeared. The below satellite image for April 21st 2019 shows the whole caboodle has been cleared away, including the buildings. Using Google Earth we know this clearance must have happened sometime between Aug 2018 & April 2019.
Does this signal some move by Putin to pull out of eastern Ukraine?
Very unlikely. The depot provided epic amounts of ammo during the early heavy fighting years of 2014/15. It will have held (and no doubt still did) huge quantities of rockets, tank and heavy artillery shells, all ammunition hardly used in any significant quantities since 2016. Yes, 2020 has seen an upsurge in firing along the front line, but in the main its mortar, anti-tank rocket & small arms fire, all stuff that small vehicle convoys or more likely trains can take across the border as and when.
The current level of fighting in eastern Ukraine doesn’t warrant massive ammo depots, especially ones visible on Google Earth for the world to see. And the Kremlin sure doesn’t want the OSCE repeatedly publishing film footage and photos of military convoys crossing the border into Ukraine, all happening near a giant-sized Russian ammo depot.
However, if there is a crumb of comfort, the depot clearing may signal Putin has no intentions of advancing further into Ukraine.
The depot seen in April 2018.
The below photos taken by Russian soldiers back in 2015 show the depot contained hundreds of thousands of ammo boxes, all stacked out in the open.
Check the Inform Napalm website for more info on the photos.
Due to its convenient location, the Russkoye depot (red) could supply Russia-led forces both inside Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. The grey line marks the boundary between the two Ukrainian regions.