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Ukraine’s Dnipro Battalion Combines Drone Footage with Open Source Intelligence

July 25, 2015

By Eliot Higgins

Early this week Ukraine’s Dnipro Battalion produced a rather unusual video on their YouTube channel. The battalion has released a number of videos containing drone footage of Russian-backed separatists positions in the past, but this new video contained something unusual:

The video opens with the question “Where does the terrorist Givi celebrate his birthday?”, “Givi” being Mikhail Sergeyevich Tolstykh, commander of the pro-Russian “Somalia Battalion”. The video then shows a Google Maps satellite image of Donetsk, showing the distance of the area filmed in the drone footage that follows from the frontline down of Avdeevka, 7.29km away. The video then highlights a location in the drone footage where a number of T-72 tanks are parked, as well as provided the address and co-ordinates of the location featured (Donetsk, street Zlitna 11A, 48.062107, 37.759581)Drone 1The video then cuts to footage filmed by a pro-Russian blogger showing separatists troops celebrating Givi’s birthday party on July 19th, and uses Google Street View to confirm the location the video was filmed by comparing buildings in the footage filmed by the blogger to buildings visible in the Google Street View imagery:

Drone 2

The video then goes on to describe the rest of the area, criticises the separatists for flautning the “Minsk protocol”, and various other statements. What’s interesting about this video is it combines drone footage with open source material from tools such as Google Maps and Google Street View, and video filmed by a blogger. They also include the co-ordinates of the sites they are showing that makes it easy for anyone interested to check what they are showing is correct. This is a very unusual combination of open source material in a video produced from a military unit, but shows that groups in Ukraine might be coming around to the idea that by combining non-classified material with open source material it’s possible to present a much more stronger case that the information being presented is reliable.



Eliot Higgins

Eliot Higgins is the founder of Bellingcat and the Brown Moses Blog. Eliot focuses on the weapons used in the conflict in Syria, and open source investigation tools and techniques.

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  1. masa

    So what’s the point of publishing this video, especially taking into account that this video has not been created by bellingcat?
    Yes, the address of “terrorist base” has been revealed, but they don’t hide either

    • PatSinc

      I think the point is that it definitively shows that separatist forces are still in breach of the Minsk 2 agreement, by stationing tanks in areas which they promise they have pulled back from.

      • masa

        You may simply read OSCE reports to find it out. From OSCE reports you may find out that Ukraine violates agreements as well.
        Moreover, Ukraine will never agree on political part they have signed in Minsk, such as amnesty or paying social benefits to Donbass residents, instead, economical blockade is tightening.

        • tdm

          The pure idea of giving amnesty to terrorists like “Givi” is absurd, even more so that he shows any sign to be ready to lay down arms as ie. the IRA did – and absurd is the hole agreement, which was forced on Ukraine by Putin because western leaders didn’t had the guts to make a stand against Putin’s state terrorism in the Ukrainian Donbass.

          • masa

            Terrorist or not, depends on what propaganda you are affected.
            It is obvious peace deal will never work without amnesty.
            Ukraine has started economical blockade thinking it will force Donbass residents to support Ukraine, but this tactic never worked in the other world conflicts, won’t work in Ukraine too. Besides, it is damaging Ukrainian economy.
            The peace direction could be like this: Ukraine recognises Donbass autonomy, allows them to elect local leaders (instead appointed from Kiev), separatists recognise Kiev authorities and disarm. Russia and western leaders should guarantee that Ukraine won’t try to solve this conflict by military force again.

          • Sabs

            Or, the twats that think its ok to start a war can just piss off over the border if they want to live in Russia. Otherwise, by giving them even 1% of recognition, you are saying America can now send 20,000 Americans to Russia, and declare that it is now a part of America… and then WWIII.
            Be serious, those are terrorist, and they have the deaths of over 6,000 people on their hands. And if you want to debate it, first go to the region, then come back and tell me they are not. Because if you have anything they like, they will take it.

  2. Balderdasche

    If anything else it proves the Givi is still in position at the airport, a target for Ukrainian shelling since it was retaken in January.

    Had they known about the party sooner, I’m sure Dnipro 1 would have made sure he got an extra ration of ‘roman candles” for his birthday.

    It is safe to assume ‘Dnipro’ is safe on ‘guard duty’ in Kyiv, rather than risking their laptops at the front.

    • Rob

      Balderdasche, under Minsk 2, the Ukrainian army is not allowed to use artillery in the exclusion zone.

  3. Rob

    Let it be noted that in the night before this party by Givi and his gang, that 3 civilians died during shelling of apartment building in Avdiivka from exactly that party location where these T-72 tanks are positioned.

    Givi and his gang not just blatantly violate the Minsk 2 agreement by positioning T-72 tanks in the exclusion zone, and commit war crimes by deliberately targeting and killing civilians, but they even have the audacity to throw a little party afterwards celebrating their “achievements”.

    While the Ukrainian army cannot respond because of Minsk 2.

    I’m sure Givi is real proud of his war crimes.

    • John Smith

      Old Submarine (Som / Catfish) from 1916. The company got a bit of PR as they wanna get themselves funding for their projects. Looks to be confirmed by many sources hence it is out of the news already.

      • boggled

        Gotta admit though, the sub is surprisingly without a lot of vegetation or rust on it.
        Surprising to see after 100 years in salt water.
        I guess that might be a difference of the colder climates up that far North.
        And whose to say an older sub could not be used for surveillance or smuggling operations and used well into the 80s?
        Not that that actually happened, but it could have couldn’t it?
        If the Soviets discounted it as lost and didn’t search for it, could it have been just announced lost, then still used in covert ops by them or by another country or individual player?
        Anyways, I will keep looking for it, I am interested on how they salvage it and what they find.

        Fare thee well

    • boggled

      More evidence for possible ‘independent’ journalist getting International war crimes charges, you think not4u?
      To go along with his buddy GWP ?
      And the unassociated but still controversial Kitty Logan?
      And those two Russian bloggers wannabe journalists, since disclaimed by their ‘mother’ Kremlin sponsored media host, that posted their own video of them laughing as Ukrainians, both civilian and military targets, were getting shelled from GRAD rockets?

      Fare thee well

  4. Michael wadd

    Ime new to this and truly are amazed at this information out there.However for me its what we do not see this is my interest how the psychology of hate fear passion and desire translates and manifests from a thing without form to aa rocket a gun that which causes fear and harm. I mean people leaders rebels loyleists terrorists whoever when the world is victim of subjective emotion. We are in the shit so take care of your kids and give them some love.


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