Geolocated July BUK convoy videos in Russia
In July, movements of Buk system elements were again on the move in Russia. The Bellingcat team has discovered and analyzed 12 videos reportedly from between July 19-20. Some of the sightings of individual units have been previously discussed in relation to MH17, but they can now be placed in the greater context of a military convoy’s movements. In addition, there is a newly discovered video of a unit from June’s convoy moving alone through Kamensk-Shaktinsky down a road which leads to the Russian border town of Donetsk.
The first video examined has a self-reported location of “Федосе”, which can be found to refer to Федосеевка, or Fedoseevka, north of Stary Oskol. The location in the video can be found on eastbound P189, which passes through Fedoseevka.
Another video with the reported location of Stary Oskol can be linked to the same exact location, seemingly during the time the convoy was stopped by the side of the road.
Video number three is not dashcam footage, but shot while stationary. The location provided is Stary Oskol, and based on the visible poles of the light rail power line can be narrowed down to P188 through Stary Oskol. Landmarks reveal the exact location.
The fourth video of the convoy is again said to be located in Stary Oskol. In this case, the video is long enough to give several landmarks, which can be used to locate the video.
With video number five, we see the reported location as Stary Oskol, but the date marked as July 30th. This is interesting, because we see an exact match in the vehicles of the convoy to all the videos marked as having been filmed on July 19th. Comparing the tarp-covered trailers, we can see an exact match to a July 19th video. It seems highly unlikely two identifical convoys with exactly the same kind of vehicles, including the tarped loads, would have moved through the city 11 days apart, especially when no other footage from July 30th has been found.
As for the location of the video, it can be placed at the center of Stary Oskol, with match confirmed on Street View.
The sixth video shows familiar surroundings from previous geolocation work, and the filming location can be found in Stary Oskol.
Moving out of the city, the next video said to be from Stary Oskol can be located to south of the city. The immediate surroundings provide few clues, but by also looking at the view from the rear view mirror, the general area can be narrowed down, and exact the location found.
The eigth video has has quite a suggestive title, talking about a “Buk driven to dismantling”. This would seem unlikely, as the vehicles are in Neznamovo, far from Luhansk, and heading south. The ninth video is related, and filmed in the same area.
Next, as number 10, we have a video reportedly from Alexeevka. The quality of the video is not great, but it does provide an overview of the surrounding terrain, which was useful in matches from satellite imagery. Ultimately, the search leads to the following location, giving a very likely match as the location, south of Alexeyevka, with the vehicles heading east.
The final video of this convoy, number 11, provided no reference location, and was one of the more difficult ones to locate. One tool used was SunCalc, as likely time of the video filmed was known, so the shadows of the vehicles provided a clue about road orientation. Then, the matching road shapes were searched from the likely convoy route based on the June convoys movements, giving a match to the Olkhovatka. Finally, Street View was used to confirm the match.
Summary of the convoy’s movements on a map looks as follows:
The last video discussed here is a very interesting one, as it shows a lone Buk TEL unit with obscured markings traveling alone. The video is short and provides very few clues about the likely location. The reported location, “пос. Южный” or “pos. Yuzhnyy”, is alone ambiguous, as it is a common name for villages in Russia. The necessary context was provided by the uploaders reported location on Russian social media sites, placing him in Kamensk-Shaktinsky. With this additional information, it was possible to find a church listing its location as “пос. Южный г. Каменск-Шахтинский”, on the south side of Kamensk-Shaktinsky, and searching the surroundings there lead to the the location pictured below. The unit was traveling south on E40/M21, which leads to the Russian border town of Donetsk.
Location on a map:
To wrap up, here is a summary table of all the locations.