One of Ukraine’s most famous battles was waged at Ilovaisk (here on Google Maps). As we reported in our summary of the battle which we posted in August, 107 Ukrainians and 300 Russians were reportedly killed between August 7th and September 2, after Ukrainian troops which had been on the offensive suddenly met unexpectedly heavy resistance and quickly became completely encircled.
See our summary of the battle – The Battle of Ilovaisk: A Turning Point in Russia’s War on Ukraine
The blogger for Ukraine At War, Dajey Petros, has reviewed images from Google Earth which have been released since the battle. What he discovered was shocking — evidence that Russian military units crossed the border and engaged in the battle which was a major turning point in this war.
His work is reproduced below. — James Miller
Google Earth shows how Russians crossed border to create Ilovaisk massacre
In August Ukrainian volunteer battalions were ordered to encircle Donetsk from the South. At Ilovaisk they met fierce resistance and they were never able to really take it.
As can be seen there is a natural barrier near Novyi Svit in the form of an artificial lake (highlighted in green above). After weeks of uncertainty they were offered a ‘safe corridor’ [by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called for the opening of a “humanitarian corridor,” an offer which was never offered by the Russian or separatist forces – The Interpreter] back so they could retreat. They had to take the route south of Novyi Svit again.
But there they were slaughtered.
Now with updated satellite images on Google Earth we can reconstruct how. It was done by a Russian invasion army that crossed the border near Berestove (here on Google Maps).
Here is that border crossing on July 16th:
Here is that crossing on the updated September 14th map:
To understand the scale of this we can zoom in:
We can see a ‘single track’ (which might even have been used by several vehicles) and very broad ‘multiple tracks’.
My rough estimate would be that these tracks have been used by 50 to 100 vehicles if not more.
Now we can trace the tracks and see where they come from and which direction they go:
First of all we can see this on the Russian side:
Zoomin in on the ‘forward position’ we can still see quite a large amount of vehicles:
There are trucks and likely GRAD launchers parked there, but also camouflaged positions and tents.
A little bit south of this two large vehicles can be seen. Although it cannot be determined what they are exactly, I suspect these to be BUK air defense systems or some other type of air defense.
This area shows the situation on July 16, before the battle:
And this was taken on September 14th, after the battle:
Now there are a lot of tracks that lead into the trees. That indicates this has been a camping site.
There are more such camping areas, as well as used firing positions for artillery and trenches. This whole area is a forward position of the army with a HUGE temporary campsite. No vehicles can be seen anymore in this camp.
When we follow the tracks into Ukraine this is the image we get:
There is ONE BIG trail crossing the border which then splits into several smaller ones, leading to an area where many firing positions can be seen as well as camp sites.
This is an example:
Here are dug-in positions, often used for MSTA heavy self-propelled artillery:
The layout of the camp/firing positions:
To the northeast the tracks lead to this:
There is an area (yellow circle) with several firing positions. The blue area is the known killing zone of Ukrainian units. (Remember the corpse hanging on the electricity line? That was here…)
The light blue area shows mortar impacts. It looks like some Russian units have tried to advance there and received some counter fire.
So this can be understood like this:
The blue line shows how the Ukrainian units were retreating. To get there they had already been fired on with artillery many times. When they arrived at this position, they were attacked from the side and from behind by an overwhelming Russian force (Yellow arrow).
The small yellow arrow indicates that attacks via that side must also have been taken place, but it cannot be seen because that road is a hard road and the September satellite images end there.
Just North of the yellow circle next to the road, three wrecks and burned areas can be seen:
These are the first visible victims on the satellite image. Here is a video showing many more.
Here is a map of all tracks and positions:
A video shows that more to the south units had also been destroyed, (small blue area). But that’s also the end of the satellite images, so we cannot see exactly how and where yet.
So THAT’S how Russia invaded Ukraine and destroyed the volunteer battalions who had been guaranteed a save passage out…
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— Ukraine@war (@DajeyPetros) January 28, 2015