With a recent Google Earth satellite update, it’s a chance to see what’s been happening at Russia-led military bases in eastern Ukraine.
First up is a base located on outskirts of the Ukrainian border town of Torez. In Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast (province) and close to the Russian border, it was established in early 2015. It’s changed from a tented camp into one of the largest bases in eastern Ukraine. Giving it a permanent look, the buildings and large parade ground seen below on the left are first appear in July 2016. Seen below in June 2018, opposite the buildings is a large, military vehicle park (yellow). Location coordinates: 47°59’30.16″N 38°36’7.81″E
June 2018 image.
A full year later in June 2019, the vehicle park is abandoned and two new ones have been constructed (yellow). A smaller one has been built closer to the buildings, with a larger one positioned next to the old park – each one has individual parking places, protected by earth banks.
June 2019 image.
As with all these military bases, there’s always a permanent detachment of military hardware stationed within them. Torez is best known for the having around 60 tanks kept there, both at the base and in a nearby farm compound. Along with live firing training exercises, the base is almost certainly used as a transit hub for Russia-led forces and supplies entering and exiting Ukraine. Along with the new vehicle parks, the blue roofed buildings and their surrounding white wall have finally been completed – these will be barracks, canteen and various utility buildings.
Close up of the smaller park next to the buildings. We can see 13 tanks and what looks like an armoured fighting vehicle. I think these new structures are simply a better way of protecting the hardware permanently stationed here.
June 2019: Google Earth 3D view.
Just 30km east of Torez, we head across into Ukraine’s Luhansk Oblast and a base outside the Ukrainian border town of Krasnyi Luch. Satellite imagery indicates Russian forces started construction work here in Feb 2015. Location coordinates: 48° 2’57.81″N 38°57’42.72″E
So what’s changed? June 2019 imagery show a little building activity around the bases main buildings seen on the bottom left, but nothing of note. What is is notable is the appearance of a small 30m x 30m compound and a reduction of military hardware stored at the base. Usually there’s around 200 pieces of hardware here including tanks, artillery, grad rockets, armoured fighting vehicles and odds and sods. June 2019 imagery shows only around 100 vehicles. This is not that particularly unusual, as the missing hardware is likely to have been moved to smaller bases dotted around the region.
June 2018 image.
June 2019 image. Red square marks the new building. Note it’s located in the vehicle park away from the main base buildings seen on the far left.
Close-up of the new building. It’s fenced off, with one large building, a parade ground and formal paths leading to a gateway and several smaller buildings. In addition to the darker coloured fence around it, there also appears to be a wire fence surrounding it. It’s purpose is anyone’s guess – perhaps a small prison, accommodation for visiting Russian Special Forces? Built away from the main base buildings and enclosed within two fences does suggest it’s construction is out of the ordinary. We’ll have to keep an eye on it.