Updated: How Russia Hides Its Hardware in Ukraine

Russia’s getting camera shy about its hardware in occupied Ukraine, notably its heavy artillery. Now, this is an old camouflage trick, but thankfully the OSCE saw through it (literally) and spotted several Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) disguised as transport trucks. Or, in this case, poorly disguised as transport trucks. This subterfuge makes it harder to spot MLRS and easier for them to be hidden closer to the front line.

The above March 6th 2020 image shows 3 MLRS with metal frames and canvas sheeting used to cover the distinctive angled rocket tubes. Thankfully the sheeting had blown off one of them, and has been ripped on the other 2. As the OSCE rightly point out, having MLRS within 70km of the frontline is a Minsk agreement violation. Located only 40km away, these could quickly shell Ukrainian held territory such as the town of Avdiivka outside the city of Donetsk. Coordinates 47°55’41.19″N 38°16’57.25″E

Bringing us more up to date and in the same location, the above February 19th 2021 image shows 6 MLRS “partially disguised as military utility trucks.”

In 2018, an article detailing a social media post revealed how Russia’s forces hide their MLRS in Ukraine. A simple metal frame and additional canvas is used to cover the rocket tubing. The construction of the frame might suggest this is a standard Russian army component. To blend in with military transport trucks, the frames canvas is green coloured. As the below pictures show, the lightweight frame can be quickly removed and put to one side when firing.

As seen here, traditionally Russian army MLRS have cream canvas covers, this along with the distinctive angle of the rocket tubes makes them easier to spot.
Three covered MLRS.
Here the metal frames have been lifted off revealing two MLRS.

In Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast (province), the MLRS seen by the OSCE were in a base near the village of Pokrovka, just 30km from the Russian border. Growing in size, this is one of the smaller bases – used for training, and its location makes for a convenient remote location for sending Russian hardware/supplies into Ukraine.

OCT 2019: satellite image of Pokrovka compound seen in the OSCE images. With towed artillery on the left & 9 tanks on the right, there look to be 6 MLRS here. Showing their original cream canvas covers, this suggests they hadn’t been covered with canvas frames.
My video showing Russian MLRS firing near the Ukrainian village of Krasnyi Luch. These ones still have their cream canvas covers. Their Russian military markings have been covered over with paper and Russian army vehicle number plates removed.
Wider look at the Pokrovka base. This 2019 images shows building work is on-going.
Location of Pokrovka base. It’s close to Russian border and the occupied city of Donetsk.

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