Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ukrainian company driving from Artemivsk to Saur Mogila

A (long) video from early August came to my attention of a 10+ vehicle Ukrainian company driving from Artemivsk to (almost) Saur Mogila.
This is amazing because we never knew the Ukrainian army had been able to cross the Snizhne-Donetsk line. Also the video shows how the life/work of soldiers on duty look like.

The best quality footage can be found here:

The earliest footage is from August 4th:
But as I will show later, it must have been from July 31st or earlier.

Helicopter flight (00:00 - 00:14)
This screenshot at 00:02:

resembles this Google Earth position:

Google maps link. It is North of Artemivsk.

At the basecamp (00:14 - 4:58)


Classic :D (at 00:28):

This screenshot at 01:49

resembles this Panoramio photo:

indicating the location is here (NW of Artemivsk):

Google maps link.

The heavy stuff is here:

Driving and talking 4:58-10:48
Long part talking to the driver on the road from Artemivsk to Debaltseve:

Convoy to Debaltseve 10:48-

Somewhere they take a little detour on a secondary road (11:24)

This probably is because they cannot use the bridge at Luhans'ke.

At 11:49 they drive through a village, which most likely would be Myronivskyi, because that would be the shortest detour:

And indeed there is a Panoramio photo that resembles this place:

So the detour was like this:

To Debaltseve 11:53- 
Then they are on the main road to Debaltseve again (12:02):

Where some other units have taken positions to defend the road/route (12:28):

This position is even visible on Google maps!!!!

Even the white bus can be seen as well as other vehicles and tracks.

At 12:50 it can be seen that the convoy at the back consists of at least 7 vehicles:

with at least 3 driving in front of him that makes 10+ vehicles.

They make another stop at the side of the road (12:53):

where some defenses seem to have been set up.

Debaltseve (13:39-)
Then they enter Debaltseve, where at the first crossroad they pass a roadblock (13:57):

Making geolocation a lot easier at 14:18 :D, just before the main crossroad:

The main crossroad at 14:28:

well guarded (14:33):

Passing the first exit after the city (14:53):

and the main exit to bypass Debaltseve to Lugansk (15:02), making geolocating easy again:

This is how they were driving:

Driving through the countryside (15:16-15:52) 
At 15:16 they drive through some fields:

At 15:40 a road sign can be seen:

This Panoramio photo shows it too:

It means they must have been driving something like this:

Driving through the village Stizhkivske and beyond (15:52-17:21)
At 16:05 a village can be seen:

They go left and at the next crossing they meet some press (16:17):

They continue their drive through the countryside.



At 16:59 they enter a village again:

On one house it says the streetname:

That street can be found in the outskirts of Shakhtarsk:

It means they are here:

On a larger scale these last spots look like this on the map:

Driving through a mine (17:21-17:51)

This last screenshot can be reconstructed like this:

looking backwards 17:47:

The total route along the mine would then be like this:

Crossing the Donetsk supply line through Hirne (17:52-21:36)
At 17:52 they enter an urban area again, starting with at the right hand a ruin:

 at the 1st crossroad (18:16):

2nd crossroad (18:25)

18:38 taking the corner:

18:50 checking for activity:

19:08 slowly advancing:

19:46 last turn before the railway crossing:

19:54 railway crossing in sight:

Looking backwards:

This is how they went through the village:

At 20:34 they approach the railway crossing:

The busstop on the road from Snizhne to Donetsk:


It looks damaged and abandoned:

It is hard to imagine that this roadblock had vanished without any form of resistance. Either this had been done earlier already, or the camera was off when it happened.
Whatever it was, the weird thing is they had just been able to cross this road. We always thought this was like an impenetrable wall. But the video shows: they did it...

Last stop before Saur Mogila (21:36
The next shot at 21:36 is quite some drive away:



On the map:

Saur Mogul in sight (22:15-)
Now they enter a hot zone and have to take cover, shots are fired :

Somewhere out there is some trouble, 22:47:

Note the electricity pole just next to the flag.
The position is like this:

Purple line is electricity cables. Three poles have been drawn. The second pole is the first one visible in the shot.

The satellite image is from August 1st. Note that at the right side of the BTR the field is indeed burned too, but at the left side it is NOT! This means the footage is shot BEFORE the first of August.

You can see two bullets hit the ground in front of them (23:29):

His teammate fires some shots 23:37:

A sniper checks if he can find something (23:59):

Something is burning now, or it may be the smoke from the exhaust?

It is behind the third pole and the bushes.

When we zoom in on the map, we see this:

The red arrows show vehicles. The right arrow is exactly in the line of view from the position of the BTR behind the third pole and the bushes.
So it looks like a vehicle got seriously hit and damaged and on the Aug 1st satellite image it was still there. Or it had taken position there and was still there on Aug 1st.
At the left arrow there is another vehicle that either may have been disabled or is positioned there.

When we look at the surroundings something astonishing becomes clear:

There is a third vehicle/wreck a little north of them (red arrow). But right behind them are two MAJOR artillery positions!

Three vehicles are visible in the upper area and 4 in the lower:

And there is even more in the neighborhood:

More vehicles and even another artillery position with 5 vehicles and one command vehicle. That area is also heavily shelled with mortars.

At 24:21 some vehicles are returning, the battle seems to be over:

At 25:41 they start parking their cars for their night camp:

It is located here:

From there they have a nice view on Saur Mogila:

This is the entire route the company took:

Unless the cameraman did not turn on his camera during real battles, it looks like not much fighting had been going on. Only in the end there was a real skirmish, but it didn't last very long.

They had been driving from Debaltseve to (almost) Saur Mogila basically uncontested. Even the so heavily defended and never been captured supply line from Snizhne to Donetsk could be crossed easily. The checkpoint there did not look like a heavy fortress.

Yet we do know there had been some serious and deadly encounters on July 31st in Shakhtarsk.

The impression I get is that the countryside is largely no-mans-land. The Russian (mercenary) forces hide in the cities and pick their battles carefully. 
Only when the hidden invasion by special and regular Russian forces happened they were able to deal with the Ukrainian army.

This video also shows that two weeks after the downing of MH17, the Ukrainian army drove around the crash site without any serious threats. 
There can be no other explanation than that Ukraine wanted to secure the site for free international access.

As we all know Russia and its proxy fighters in Ukraine have obstructed free access to the site.


  1. The press guy with his cameraman and blonde translator lady is Jaap van Deurzen from The Netherlands. He arrived at the crash site July 26 and left August 5.

  2. The video can still be found, e.g. here:


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