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How to Find Historical Imagery of Russia’s Faked Satellite Photos

May 31, 2015

By Eliot Higgins

In Bellingcat’s latest report, Forensic Analysis of Satellite Images Released by the Russian Ministry of Defense, we exposed how Russia had falsely claimed satellite imagery from June 2014 was from July 14th and July 17th. As with nearly all of Bellingcat’s work we used open source information, satellite imagery from Google Earth, to expose the fake images. It’s possible for anyone to find this imagery with a few easy steps.

1 – Download, install, and run Google Earth Pro.

2 – Enter the co-ordinates 48.098203, 37.754731 into the search box on the top left of the screen.

google Search

3 – Under the view menu, select “Historical Imagery”.

view hist

4 – A slider will appear on the top left of the map allowing you view imagery from all available dates.


Now you can examine the imagery of the area provided by the Russian Ministry of Defence (here, here, and here), and compare it to the historical imagery on Google Earth. In this example we can see the rows in the field in the July Google Earth imagery are missing from the Russian Ministry of Defence imagery, and another track mark faintly visible in the May Google Earth image is present in the Russian MoD image.

Russia MoD 2

So in a few simple steps anyone can see the evidence that the Russian Ministry of Defence shared wrongly dated imagery in its July 21st MH17 press conference. If you believe you’ve found any new discrepancies please share them in the comments below.


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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    • Dee

      Nothing can change the reality, that Russians by mistake or on purpose presented a satellite photo from May as a photo from 14th July 2015 11:40. One does not have to be a nuclear scientist to understand it and does not matter what anybody can say. Even Mr. Kriese, who is making PR of his own and his agency upon this and using Belingcat and east-Ukrainian conflict as advertisement for his business.
      Continue the good job folks, you are smart enough to have similar results as he have. Only difference between you and Mr Kriese is, you are not doing business here.

  1. Jason

    Dr. Neal Krawetz, founder of FotoForensics, calls Bellingcat “Forensic Analysis of Satellite Images” report a “how to not do image analysis”

      • Dee

        True, and is very unlikely, that his expression is towards this article. Almost no analysis is necessary here, to pinpoint the lie of the Russians is very easy job in style of “Find 2 differences”. And one lie always tend to sit next to another one…

    • Mad Dog

      Of course, we must remember that Dr. Krawetz was called out on his blanket condemnation of the Paul Hansen World Press Photo 2012 winner. Seems he made a big boo boo in that one.

        • Not Mark

          So we have two men with PhDs that have very different conclusions when presented the same evidence. I am not sure which one to believe. How can you say that “Krawetz was entirely correct in his forensic analysis”? I sure am not qualified to say that so how are you?

  2. johny

    Russia foto are good, but belicant fake only part of photo and no same date of russia. Pl stop fasict propaganda belicant

    • Mad Dog

      You know, one just has to love this predilection for calling anything coming out of the Ukraine as fascist! Despite being wrong in most cases (the utlra-right only garneed 1% of the vote for president). it also overlooks a major point. If there are a large number of fascists in the Ukraine, there must be a reason why this is so (kind of like calling most Chechens terrorists). Fascism was one of the outlets available to Ukrainians in the face of the massive brutality and terror wrought on the populace by the other side of the coin, Communism. If one saw his family starved to death or shot because they tried to save a bit of food for themselves, one surely would not turn to communism. A large part of that fascist strain in the country came about for just that reason and even welcomed the German army into the country as liberators (a feeling soon to be dispelled by the SS). Even so, many many Ukrainians can never forget the treatment they suffered at the hands of the Soviets, so the roots of fascism in the country can really be found those brutal policies (as mentioned before, most Chechens just wanted a terrible wrong righted, but all they got for trying was bullets and rockets…no wonder many of them fought back). Russia has very little to be proud of in regards to their treatment of their ‘own’ people and blithely using the term fascists only brings that treatment further out in to the open. BTW, what should we call the Russians? Democrats?


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