Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mapping Russias army camps INSIDE Ukraine

In this blog I wrote about and analyzed the Russian attack on Lugansk Airport that was captured by satellite images on August 31st.

The presence of substantial Russian forces in Ukraine must mean that they have camps there too, since such an offensive does not take place just one day. And of course the whole army does not go back to Russia to spend the night there.
So there must be camps out there!!!

To understand what we are looking for here is an example:

Google Maps link.

We just see some tracks in and out the trees. For the rest nothing.
Yet... this VK-photo is very clarifying in several ways:

It is geotagged at exactly that location:

Furthermore we can see an artillery firing position nearby as well as a radar unit:

Closeup of the radar:

As you can see, at close examination, there is even a tent visible and to more objects that are impossible to identify.

The best way to see if something is there is to compare it with an image from older date:

Here are photos from one of these soldiers VK-album.

This is how they live and eat:

Their 'car' is parked in under the trees and they reside next to it:

They build constructions for shelter:

They dig trenches and build fortifications:

Just to make sure... THIS is NOT what we can expect there:

That's how a base looks like 50 kms from the border.
Next to the border or IN Ukraine, camps have to be VERY well hidden, camouflaged and protected, because there is always a risk of an attack.

Luckily for us even such camps leave traces of the tracks of the vehicles. This is what we are looking for:

That one IS in Luhansk rayon. It lays behind a large artillery area (orange and yellow areas):

But this is also something:

It's a small place, but it counts too.
The rules are like this:
  1. tracks must go INTO and OUT of the trees. (THROUGH the trees is not very likely)
  2. it must not be in a combat area
  3. it must not be (next to) an artillery firing position (since they may park trucks in the bushes in those cases)
  4. There may be traces of left behind stuff
  5. Likely in front of the area there are numerous tracks.
So this is what I found:

Basically there are two areas with campments and some smaller ones scattered around. Also there are 2-3 offload areas next to the railway through which supplies (and/or troops) have come.

Let's have a closer look:

Forwards camps
This view shows the location is on a hill:

In the top of the image the city Lugansk can be seen. It means the back parts of the camp will be hidden by the slope of the hill. The front parts may have a look on Lugansk.
All the green parts show tracks.

This is a look on the front part:

Intense tracks can be seen all around, but it is unlikely that they camp here. it probably is a lookout point. On closer inspection on with comparison of on older image, two camouflaged vehicles can be seen. This might be a radar.

Here two more vehicles can be seen, with one park under a tree, but still visible:

Unclear what these are.
Further to the back three more vehicles can be seen:

And completely at the back of the area a lonesome vehicle stands:

This might be an air defense unit, as they tend to position these in the open.

Why is this camp located here?
At some point Ukraine had almost encircled Lugansk (blue lines):

This camp protected the only supply route into Lugansk. From there the Russians could drive to battle positions and fence the Ukrainians off to close the gap. But it never got to the point where the Ukrainians could conquer this position and no battles had been taken place there.
But, because several vehicles can be seen and since there must be more unseen in the tree, on August 31st parts of it are still operating.

Train offload point

The biggest collections of camps lies in the hinterland:

As can be seen it is smartly positioned on and around a hill. At the red positions vehicles can be seen.

The area at the foot of the hill looks like this:

It does not look spectacular, but it still is some 400 meters by 600 meters with locations between the trees everywhere.
All the other green areas are more of the same kind.

This is the pink area:

There are strange things all around there. I have no idea what it is! My best guess would be ammunition boxes.

This is the first red area:

Again several of these 'boxes'. But the front two positions look like dugin vehicles. Though the pictures is not very clear.
Could it be some really long range missile launchers? Lugansk Airport starts at 25 kms...

The changes in the area are very apparent when the previous situation is viewed:

The second red area again has the same 'boxes' and maybe one vehicle.

Last but not least, the small red area in the back of this campment shows this:

Either this is a radar or maybe an S-300 air defense with erected launchers?

The mystery
This location close the the border is quite a mystery:

On May 15th there was nothing:

On August 8th they have started building there:

August 31st:

On the last image something else appears nearby and a car can be seen, but that may be a coincidence of course.

On a further look, I found out that they have many more of these structures which they build and break down again since 2004, including pipeline to nearby mine:

So it must some kind of mining operation.

1 comment:

  1. First congratulations on the great job documenting this covert war Russia is conducting on Ukrainian territory. I agree with most of your conclusions. I just want to note that the use of S300 strategic air defense systems is highly improbable. This air defense system is an overkill for a mission like the Ukranian campaign as they are designed to engage a full fledged air and missile (cruise and ballistic) mass attack from NATO (remember how the US and Israel got really worried when the possibility of Iran buying such system come to light some years ago? That meant that Israel could no longer hit the nuclear plants with impunity). Systems like the Buk or similar are much more suitable for the kind of targets it will face (Migs, cargo planes, helicopters and small drones).


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