Russian strikes in Kyiv facilitated by US sat-data buy

The Ukrainian navy maintains that Russia employs photographs from American satellite tv for pc firms to information its cruise missile assaults. It’s an astonishingly cost-effective funding. The price of these photographs may solely be a few thousand {dollars}. This will seem to be a hefty sum, however compared to a missile that prices round $1 million, it’s virtually negligible. What’s extra, such purchases will be strategically made via third-party companies, which successfully conceal the Russian supply and circumvent sanctions. 

Photograph credit score: Maxar Applied sciences

As well as, the satellite tv for pc imagery market is a treasure trove of complete, high-resolution photographs, all of which include timestamps and coordinates. These photographs are a useful software for monitoring the actions and actions of potential targets. 

In response to Ukrainian navy sources quoted by The Atlantic, a telling sample has emerged. A satellite tv for pc takes a image of a location marked for assault. Inside a few days or even weeks, a Russian missile strikes the designated goal. A subsequent order for an additional satellite tv for pc picture of the identical location is then submitted, prone to assess the aftermath of the operation. Because the supply succinctly places it, “The variety of coincidences is simply too excessive to be a coincidence,” stating the simple sample.

NASA: Russia hit Mirgorod MiG-24 base with ballistic missiles - Iskander-M
Photograph credit score: Reddit

Some examples

On April 2, 2022, the area round Mirgorod was shaken by missile strikes on a navy airport. Notably, US corporations had requested photographs of this airport on 9 separate events earlier than this incident. Intriguingly, a week after the assault, one other photograph of the location was obtained. This sample of occasions was not distinctive to Mirgorod. For instance, in Lviv, an arms manufacturing unit was bombarded on March 26, 2022. Then, in January 2024, Kyiv additionally made headlines when it confronted a related incident. Earlier than this huge missile assault, current photographs of the town had been ordered. 

A number of hundred such situations have been reported, in response to Ukrainian officers. Consultants on the Protection Ministry suspect that Russia may be buying satellite tv for pc imagery via “third-party corporations,” who collaborate with trade giants like Maxar and Planet Lab. This concept is supported by Deputy Protection Minister Kateryna Chernorenko. 

Crushing blow of Kh-101 strike on Ukraine's hydroelectric lifeline
Photograph credit score: Twitter

Chernorenko believes that American firms stand with Ukraine. These firms, echoing her viewpoint, introduced the termination of their relationships with Russia in March 2022, whereas on the similar time carefully scrutinizing their buyer base. Nonetheless, the outcomes of their work “might be used within the execution of armed assaults towards Ukraine,” in response to Chernorenko.

Is there management?

Regardless of assertions that their technological capabilities are restricted, the Ukrainian navy displays Russian satellites. Up to now, the notion that non-public corporations may distribute satellite tv for pc photographs revealing weak navy zones was unimaginable. Nonetheless, a supply talking with The Atlantic revealed that such situations have grow to be more and more frequent within the final six months, elevating questions on their randomness. 

Pakistan tested a 249-mile strike weapon putting S-400 at risk - Fatah II
Video screenshot

A high-ranking govt from a firm specializing in satellite tv for pc imagery evaluation confirmed to an American publication that they’d recognized over 350 incidents within the first yr of battle. There was a correlation between bought photographs and Russian missile strikes on deeply entrenched Ukrainian targets. The manager additional emphasised that firms like Maxar and Planet Lab ought to exert extra management, not simply over their buyer base, but in addition on the resale of photographs to stop these essential photographs from falling into Russian fingers. 

Right here’s an intriguing experiment to ponder. An American journalist took a leap of religion and requested some current pictures of Zaporizhzhia, a metropolis perilously near the frontline, from a distributor affiliated with Planet Lab. With nothing greater than a few clicks and keystrokes wanted to share his identification and card particulars, presto – he was viewing a high-resolution picture of the town inside a matter of moments.

Satellites at battle

16 Russian satellites embark on a mission for maritime oversight
Photograph credit score: Roscosmos

Let’s delve deeper into the importance of satellite tv for pc photographs, notably these of excessive decision. A high-resolution satellite tv for pc picture over a area suspected of a missile strike in a navy context can yield considerable data. The very first thing it would reveal is the geographic format of the realm. This encompasses pure options similar to mountains, rivers, forests, and man-made constructions like buildings, roads, and bridges. Greedy the terrain is significant for evaluating the affect of a missile strike and strategizing potential countermeasures. 

Secondly, the satellite tv for pc picture can disclose the existence of navy installations or tools. This might contain missile launch pads, navy bases, radar techniques, or different infrastructures. The presence of such installations may validate suspicions of a missile strike. The dimensions, form, and association of those installations may supply insights into the adversary’s capabilities and intentions. 

Thirdly, the satellite tv for pc picture may show indicators of current exercise that might counsel a missile launch. This might consist of warmth signatures, smoke trails, or disturbed earth. Such indicators wouldn’t solely affirm a missile launch but in addition present hints concerning the missile’s trajectory and potential goal. Lastly, within the aftermath of a suspected missile strike, a high-resolution satellite tv for pc picture can display the extent of the injury. This will encompass craters, destroyed buildings, or different alerts of destruction. This data is essential for assessing the effectiveness of the strike and strategizing for restoration and retaliation.

Russian satellite Kosmos-2570 detached two military objects - US
Photograph credit score: Russian MoD

It’s best to know shares some fascinating particulars, highlighting the connection between satellites and the Ukraine battle. Curiously, almost 70% of management over worldwide industrial satellite tv for pc imagery is held by US firms. Over the past 5 years, Russia has reportedly spent over $200 million on industrial satellite tv for pc knowledge to assist its efforts. 

The town of Kyiv has endured greater than 200 airstrikes for the reason that starting of hostilities. The navy price range of Russia elevated by 5.4% in 2020, with substantial funds allotted in the direction of surveillance and intelligence functions. 

Russian Kondor-FKA space radar satellite sees Ukraine twice a day
Photograph credit score: NPO Mashinostroyeniya

Curiously, greater than 80% of the airstrikes in Kyiv have been directed with precision at navy and strategic websites. Within the final three years, American satellite tv for pc firms have seen a gross sales enhance of 15% from worldwide shoppers. In 2021, Russia has secured its spot because the third-largest world purchaser of economic satellite tv for pc imagery.


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