How Russia’s Able to Occupy Eastern Ukraine

The simpler answer to how Russia’s able to occupy eastern Ukraine, is because we live in a Putin appeasement world. A world of all talk and no get the hell out of Ukraine action. But for the sake of this post, we’ll put the worlds lack of backbone to one side and instead look at the facts on the ground.

Stage 1.
By Sept 2014, Russia’s invasion forces had captured 409km of Ukraine’s eastern border. This gave Russia complete control over numerous official Ukrainian border crossings and the ability to create new crossings for use by the Russian military. Little wonder then the OSCE describe the section of Ukraine’s eastern border under Russian control, as “Unsecured.”

In Ukraine’s Luhansk region, the Ukrainian border crossing at Dolzhanskyi. Seen here in 2014, Russia’s forces shell fire destroyed it and the surrounding Ukrainian military positions.
From the Azov Sea on Ukraine’s south coast, up to the now occupied Ukrainian city of Luhansk, the area between the red lines marks the 409km of Ukraine’s border currently under Russian control. Much of it is remote and unpopulated making it ideal for military cross-border activity. Since 2014, the OSCE has reported on numerous sightings of (Russian) military convoys crossings the border.

Stage 2.
Having secured the border area, the Russian military reopened several border crossings and roads, all closed prior to Russia’s 2014 invasion. These crossings are located in remote areas and solely used by Russian military to enter and exit Ukraine. A good example of such activity can be seen at the border crossings at Kuznetsi. Located in Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast (province) near the Azov Sea south coast, Google Earth shows it reopened by Oct 11th 2014. However, road vehicle usage indicates it was probably reopened in Aug or Sept 2014. Coordinates: 47°16’27.61″N 38°19’46.30″E

The village of Kuznetsi. Seen here in Sept 2019, the border crossing is on the right.
Close-up of the closed border crossing from Oct 2013. Several banks and ditches block it and the road is overgrown and looks to have remained unused for many years.
Fast forward to Sept 2019 and the border crossing is open. As with other such crossings, the Russian military use sand (red) to block crossings to civilian use. Sand can easily be driven over my Russian military trucks and armoured vehicles and then replaced. Purple shows a large concrete tank trap type structure which has been pushed off the road. On the Russian side of border, yellow marks a military firing position and blue a probable accommodation structure for Russian soldiers. Note how well used the road has become.

Frequently used by the Russian army, another reopened road crossing can be found at Manych. Again in Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast, this one is so popular, OSCE long-range UAV has regularly photograph and filmed Russian military convoys using it. Like Kuznetsi, it’s remote and military activity occurs at night.

My previous post on this crossing. Coordinates: 47°45’9.20″N 38°45’0.90″E

OSCE video from Aug 7th 2018. Details a military convoy crossing into Russia from occupied Ukraine & one crossing into Ukraine.
OSCE image from Oct 2020: Details military convoy entering Ukraine from Russia and joining military vehicles and soldiers inside Ukraine.
OSCE image from Oct 10th 2018: Details military cross-border activity at Manych.
Detailing the same incident in the previous image from Oct 19th 2018.

Stage 3.
A number of new illegal border crossings have been created by the Russian army. Again using OSCE long-range UAV, a perfect example of this can be found near the remote village of Cheremshyne. This time in Ukraine’s Luhansk Oblast, this crossing is also routinely used by military convoys. From June 2020, the below images show convoys exiting and entering Ukraine. The UAV followed the one which has entered Ukraine to the city of Luhansk. It was then seen entering a military compound.

My previous post on this crossing: Coordinates: 48° 9’36.74″N 39°54’23.07″E

Image shows 2 military convoys. One has entered Ukraine and is driving away from the border, while another crosses into Russia.
The image shows the convoy which entered Ukraine arriving in the city of Luhansk.

For another recent example of a crossing created by the Russian army, check out my Aug 2020 post.

Lastly we have Stage 4.
There’s no independent media in occupied Ukraine and imprisonment/torture and much worse is inflicted on anyone caught reporting on military activity. This means our only reporting eyes are those of the OSCE. But therein lies the problem. The below official OSCE image shows the location of their bases and hubs in eastern Ukraine. With the red line marking the front line, in occupied Ukraine we can see no OSCE bases/hubs anywhere near the Russian controlled Ukrainian border. There are two OSCE monitored border crossings at the Russian towns of Donetsk & Gukovo (I’ve shown them as yellow markings), but these aren’t used by the Russian military.

Due to the time it takes to drive back and forth to the border, OSCE patrols rarely stay there for more than half an hour. Having arrived, they are often ordered by soldiers to leave the area or get stopped long before reaching it. Due to safety concerns, the OSCE don’t patrol overnight. They do fly long-range UAV and have sometimes observed Russian convoys crossing the border, but with the choice of 409km of Ukraine’s border to fly over, it’s sheer luck when they see anything. Added to which, the increasing use by Russia’s forces of electronic warfare jamming systems often disrupt UAV flights near the border.

This OSCE image can be found on all their daily reports.

So there you have it.
Until Ukraine gets back control of its eastern border, the conflict in eastern Ukraine WILL NEVER END.

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