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Satellite images spot Russian artillery firing on Kyiv, Ukraine

A multispectral satellite image of Russian artillery battalion actively firing in a southeasterly direction in Ozera, Ukraine on March 11, 2022 as seen by the WorldView-2 satellite for Maxar Technologies.
A multispectral satellite image of Russian artillery battalion actively firing in a southeasterly direction in Ozera, Ukraine on March 11, 2022 as seen by the WorldView-2 satellite for Maxar Technologies. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

New satellite views from space show the Russian military moving towards Kyiv, Ukraine on Friday (March 11), including images of a battalion firing upon the besieged capital.

Muzzle flashes and smoke are visible in some of the satellite images obtained by Maxar's WorldView-2 satellite, which has been watching the invasion of Ukraine by Russia since Feb. 24 and producing high-above views of the conflict. 

Russia has faced international condemnation and sanctions for its actions, especially in the space sector, where many partnerships have dissolved or frayed.

Related: Russia's invasion of Ukraine as seen in satellite photos
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The heavy bombardment from Russia is "a war of annihilation" upon Ukraine, the besieged country's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said in a New York Times report (opens in new tab) Saturday (March 12). 

Firing is particularly heavy in the suburbs of the capital, Kyiv, which has been fighting off troops for three weeks; shelling was particularly intense in Irpin and Bucha on the northwest rim of the capital, the Times said.

However, Ukraine's military reported that is has been able to stop the Russian advance, inducing "heavy losses in manpower and equipment." While the Times could not directly verify Ukraine's claim, military experts and the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War think tank have produced similar analyses, the Times said.

WorldView-2, in line with local reports from the Times, shows evidence of homes and other buildings set on fire by the military activity. Impact craters and other damage are visible in satellite images from Moschun and Chernihiv, which are northwest and northeast of Kyiv respectively.

A notorious 40-mile (64-km) convoy seen northwest of Kyiv in recent days appears to be dispersing and moving to other areas, the fresh photos show, as the Times reported ground forces in Ukraine sending anti-tank missiles (opens in new tab) towards the group. The photos also show the effects of recent attacks on the Chernobyl nuclear power facility and Antonov Airport, and cars filled with people fleeing Kyiv. 

The United Nations estimates more than 2.5 million refugees (opens in new tab) are in neighboring countries, with 1.85 million "internally displaced" within Ukraine and 12.65 million "directly affected by the conflict." Ukraine's estimated 2021 population is 43.7 million, according to the CIA Factbook (opens in new tab).

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.