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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 268
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
NATO Says Russian Forces Have Crossed Ukrainian Border
6 years
Separatists Take Down Donetsk Mayor's Site
NATO Says Russian Troops Enter Ukraine, UNSC To Hold Emergency Meeting

The BBC reports that General Philip Breedlove, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, has said today that NATO officials have observed Russian troops and military hardware entering Ukraine this week.

Breedlove said that sightings included Russian tanks, artillery, air defence systems and combat troops.

In recent days there have been numerous sightings of large columns of unmarked military vehicles and tanks on the move in the Donetsk region.

Here, for example is footage (dated November 9 and uploaded on the 10th) showing a number of tanks on the move somewhere in Donetsk.

While it is hard to make out much in the footage to carry out an exact geolocation, the following phone number is visible on a fence at the start of the video:


This number is for a Donetsk-based fencing business -  Yevrozabory (Eurofences), which suggests that this cannot have been filmed far from the city.

At least five tanks are seen, though it is hard, given the murky view through the windscreen, to say what model they are.

Other footage uploaded yesterday November 11 by Erich Hartmann and labeled "Ukraine. Convoy of Russian Tanks T-72B in Donetsk" shows a large column of unmarked military vehicles on the move.

We did not find this video appeared previously in Google Images search.

This video is divided into three segments or "takes."

In the first segment, we see the military convoy moving past an OKKO gas station.


According to the company directory, OKKO has a gas station at 9a Generala Danilova Avenue, a road from Makeyevka toward Donetsk, which has been used often for convoys.


Yandex Maps Panorama shows another company's gas station, TNK, at that location because the pictures were taken some time ago.


An old TNK company directory online confirms that there used to be a gas station at 9a Generala Danilova. Yandex



The trees and pole with a triangular sign appear to be the same in the video at the location on Yandex Panorama.


For additional confirmation, we can go up the road about a block east from the gas station toward Donetsk and find another pair of buildings, a restaurant with the red awning and the blue house in the video. These are in the third segment of the video.


This pair of buildings can be found at 19/1 Generala Danilova Avenue on Yandex Maps Panorama.


They are located here on General Danilov Avenue in Makeyevka. The convoy is headed west, towards Donetsk -- the first and third segments of the video places them in reverse order.

The mid section of the video appears to be cut from separate footage. It shows a large column of T-72 tanks, fitted with explosive reactive armor. Here is a screen grab of one of the tanks on the highway:


Because the video is divided up into three segments, even though the first and third segment show scenes just a block from each other on the highway, we cannot confirm that this second segment of the video is related to the other two. It's not possible to geolocate that segment of the video. However, the trees have no leaves on them, indicating that it was taken recently.

While we cannot verify the location of this section of footage, the tanks are identical in appearance to ones photographed by AFP, as seen in the BBC report linked above.

The T-72 is not in service with the Ukrainian armed forces, although a large number remain in storage. It is, however, widely used by the Russian army. Advanced T-72BM or B3 models have been seen on a number of occasions. These models have not been exported to any foreign state by Russia, making it impossible to attribute their origin elsewhere.

Furthermore, the T-72 is a late addition to the arsenal of the Russian-backed separatists. On June 12 the Ukrainian military first reported that T-72s were seen entering Ukraine (and that claim was disputed). The first T-72 of the war (to our knowledge) was spotted on August 18th, in possession of the separatist 'Vostok Battalion' during the buildup to the "Russian invasion" which forces Kiev to sign a ceasefire in the last hours of August. On August 26th, at the height of the fighting, the first large convoy of military equipment, including 4 T-72s, was spotted by videos and reporters on the Ukrainian side of the Russian border. Those tanks were actually a variant of the T-72, the T-72 BM, which is not used in Ukraine and therefore had to come from the Russian military.

More recently, T-72 B1 tanks were seen moving through eastern Ukraine as part of large military convoys on November 10.

If this video was indeed taken in Ukraine, it suggests that these are Russian tanks.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick/Pierre Vaux/James Miller