Ukraine's crisis: 8 new satellite images reveal the devastation on the ground

The images show the aftermath of artillery strikes in Mariupol and other cities in Ukraine.
Chris Young
Smoke clouds in the cities of Chernihiv and Mariupol.Satellite images ©2022 Maxar Technologies

The city of Mariupol in Ukraine is bearing the brunt of Russia's invasion as its capture would provide Russian forces with a land passage between the annexed Crimea and the western Russian border.

New satellite captures show the devastation of the Mariupol theater, the surrounding area, and other locations in Ukraine from above, providing a picture of the immense damage caused to infrastructure and human life.

The Mariupol Drama Theater was reportedly sheltering over 1,000 civilians in its basement when it was targeted by an airstrike on March 16, reducing the building to rubble.

Ukraine's crisis: 8 new satellite images reveal the devastation on the ground
Source: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

The image above, taken on March 19, shows smoke rising from Mariupol, with the theater at the center of the picture. 

A close-up of the theatre (below), also taken on March 19, shows the aftermath of the airstrike on the Mariupol Theater. The white writing in front of the theater — large enough for satellites to see — says "children" in Russian, marking the spot as a civilian shelter. According to CNN, Mariupol is being hit by an average of 50 to 100 airstrikes each day.

Ukraine's crisis: 8 new satellite images reveal the devastation on the ground
Source: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

The images were provided by satellite operator Maxar Technologies, who freely share their images with the press to help fight the spread of disinformation. In a statement provided to IE by Maxar, the company's CEO Dan Jablonsky said, "through our News Bureau initiative, and of our own volition, Maxar has made much of this imagery available to news organizations to support global transparency and combat the spread of disinformation."

"We are proud of our contributions to the public discourse around this tragic situation and will continue to share imagery to document the invasion and resulting humanitarian crisis," he added.

Burning buildings

Another image taken by Maxar's satellites shows burning apartment buildings, which were likely shelled by artillery. All of this, of course, goes against the Russian government's long-held narrative that their "special military operation" will only target government infrastructure and that civilians won't be harmed.

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Ukraine's crisis: 8 new satellite images reveal the devastation on the ground
Source: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

In fact, as of March 21, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded 925 deaths and 1,496 injuries. The image below shows the deployment of artillery in the northeast of Mariupol near Talakivka. The tracks on the green field show the movement of the artillery trucks in the direction of the city.

Ukraine's crisis: 8 new satellite images reveal the devastation on the ground
Source: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

Other parts of Ukraine have also come under heavy fire. Below an image shows smoke plumes coming up from the center of Irpin to the west of Kyiv. The large building on the right of the smoke clouds and the railway line is the city hall. The building with a bright blue roof is a school.

Ukraine's crisis: 8 new satellite images reveal the devastation on the ground
Source: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

In Chernihiv, in the north of Ukraine, Maxar's satellites captured images of the smoke coming from burning storage tanks that were targeted by Russian shells. 

Ukraine's crisis: 8 new satellite images reveal the devastation on the ground
Source: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

A closer image shows the extent of the smoke cloud as well as damage to surrounding buildings in the industrial part of the city, which is located near the border with Belarus, where Russian troops first entered the country before making their way to the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

Ukraine's crisis: 8 new satellite images reveal the devastation on the ground
Source: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

There is a chance that the conflict will escalate further, with more Russian forces on standby in Belarus. The image below shows Russian ground force deployment near the village of Dublin in Belarus, located close to the border with Ukraine. The troops and military vehicles are stationed 18 miles north of the Ukraine border and approximately 45 miles northwest of Chernihiv, Ukraine.

Ukraine's crisis: 8 new satellite images reveal the devastation on the ground
Source: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

Maxar CEO Jablonsky told Wall Street analysts last month that his company is "working to increase global transparency." The firm created a partnership program with "respected and trusted media organizations, and [the] team is in regular contact with hundreds of journalists, both here in the U.S. and abroad," Jablonsky explained.

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has shown the capabilities of satellite networks such as Maxar's as well as SpaceX's Starlink internet constellation, which is providing communications to civilians and troops in Ukraine, following the targeting of communications infrastructure in the country by Russian forces. These efforts are helping to prevent Russia from driving its narrative, increasing global pressure on the country to cease the invasion amid the resilience of the forces defending their country in Ukraine.

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