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Military activity in Russia spotted in satellite photos as tensions rise in Ukraine

Satellites can see military activity in Russia from space. 

Russia's military activity continues to spark international concern and conversation. Russia has now sent military troops into Ukraine for "peacekeeping" operations, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Monday (Feb. 21). 

As military and political action is taken here on Earth, satellites in orbit can see what goes on from space. In recent images captured between Feb. 13 and Feb. 22, satellites operated by Maxar Technologies observed military activity across Belarus, Crimea and western Russia, all of which border Ukraine.

Related: How Russia's Progress spaceships work (infographic)

Image 1 of 24

Helicopters in Belgorod in Russia, as seen on Feb. 13, 2022.

Helicopters in Belgorod in Russia, as seen on Feb. 13, 2022. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)
Image 2 of 24

Helicopter deployment in Valuyki, Russia as seen on Feb. 15, 2022.

Helicopter deployment in Valuyki, Russia as seen on Feb. 15, 2022. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)
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Helicopter deployment and troops in Valuyki, Russia as seen on Feb. 15, 2022.

Helicopter deployment and troops in Valuyki, Russia as seen on Feb. 15, 2022. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)
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A close view of air defense units in Belarus, observed from space on Feb. 14 2022.

A close view of air defense units in Belarus, observed from space on Feb. 14 2022. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)
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Drone technology at Luninets Air Base in Belarus, observed on Feb. 14, 2022.

Drone technology at Luninets Air Base in Belarus, observed on Feb. 14, 2022. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)
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Ground attack aircraft at Luninets Air Base in Belarus, as seen on Feb. 14, 2022.

Ground attack aircraft at Luninets Air Base in Belarus, as seen on Feb. 14, 2022. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)
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Helicopters at Lida airfield in Belarus, as seen on Feb. 16, 2022.

Helicopters at Lida airfield in Belarus, as seen on Feb. 16, 2022. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)
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Helicopters by Lake Donuzlav in Crimea.

Helicopters by Lake Donuzlav in Crimea. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)
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The Millerovo Air Base in Russia on Feb. 15, 2022.

The Millerovo Air Base in Russia on Feb. 15, 2022. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)
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Luninets Air Base in Belarus as seen on Feb. 14, 2022.

Luninets Air Base in Belarus as seen on Feb. 14, 2022. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)
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A convoy of armored equipment in Crimea as seen on Feb. 18, 2022.

A convoy of armored equipment in Crimea as seen on Feb. 18, 2022. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)
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Tents and a field hospital in Novoozernoye in Crimea as seen on Feb. 18, 2022.

Tents and a field hospital in Novoozernoye in Crimea as seen on Feb. 18, 2022. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)
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This image, snapped on Feb. 4, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-3 satellite, shows VD Bolshoy Bokov Airfield near Mazyr, Belarus, before Russian troops moved into the area.

This image, snapped on Feb. 4, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-3 satellite, shows VD Bolshoy Bokov Airfield near Mazyr, Belarus, before Russian troops moved into the area. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
Image 14 of 24

This image, snapped on Feb. 22, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-3 satellite, shows new deployments at VD Bolshoy Bokov Airfield near Mazyr, Belarus.

This image, snapped on Feb. 22, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-3 satellite, shows new deployments at VD Bolshoy Bokov Airfield near Mazyr, Belarus. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
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This image, snapped on Feb. 22, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-3 satellite, shows a closeup of assembled vehicles at VD Bolshoy Bokov Airfield.

This image, snapped on Feb. 22, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-3 satellite, shows a closeup of assembled vehicles at VD Bolshoy Bokov Airfield. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
Image 16 of 24

This image, snapped on Feb. 21, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-3 satellite, shows new deployments of material support and troops at Krasnyi Oktyabr in Russia, southwest of Belgorod.

This image, snapped on Feb. 21, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-3 satellite, shows new deployments of material support and troops at Krasnyi Oktyabr in Russia, southwest of Belgorod. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
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This image, snapped on Feb. 21, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-3 satellite, shows an overview of new deployments in a clearing southwest of Belgorod.

This image, snapped on Feb. 21, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-3 satellite, shows an overview of new deployments in a clearing southwest of Belgorod. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
Image 18 of 24

This image, snapped on Feb. 21, 2022, by Maxar’s GeoEye-1 satellite, shows armor and vehicles at a railyard in Veselaya Lopan, southwest of Belgorod.

This image, snapped on Feb. 21, 2022, by Maxar’s GeoEye-1 satellite, shows armor and vehicles at a railyard in Veselaya Lopan, southwest of Belgorod. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
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This image, snapped on Feb. 21, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-2 satellite, shows an overview of a field hospital and troop deployment in western Belgorod.

This image, snapped on Feb. 21, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-2 satellite, shows an overview of a field hospital and troop deployment in western Belgorod. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
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This image, snapped on Feb. 21, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-2 satellite, shows a closeup of a field hospital and troop deployment in western Belgorod.

This image, snapped on Feb. 21, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-2 satellite, shows a closeup of a field hospital and troop deployment in western Belgorod. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
Image 21 of 24

This image, snapped on Feb. 22, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-1 satellite, shows an overview of new deployments at Pochep, Russia.

This image, snapped on Feb. 22, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-1 satellite, shows an overview of new deployments at Pochep, Russia. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
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This image, snapped on Feb. 22, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-1 satellite, shows land clearing and new deployments at Pochep, Russia.

This image, snapped on Feb. 22, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-1 satellite, shows land clearing and new deployments at Pochep, Russia. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
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This image, snapped on Feb. 22, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-1 satellite, shows troop tents and a housing area at Pochep, Russia.

This image, snapped on Feb. 22, 2022, by Maxar’s Worldview-1 satellite, shows troop tents and a housing area at Pochep, Russia. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
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This image, snapped on Feb. 22, 2022, by a Maxar Worldview satellite, shows heavy equipment transporters in western Klintsy, Russia.

This image, snapped on Feb. 22, 2022, by a Maxar Worldview satellite, shows heavy equipment transporters in western Klintsy, Russia. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

After Russia's movement into Ukraine on Monday, today (Feb. 22) at a White House briefing, U.S. President Joe Biden described the action as "the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine," and took action to authorize new economic sanctions and send U.S. troops to the Baltics, according to Vice.

While these images show military activity from before Russia began sending military troops into Ukraine, they detail a significant fleet of military technology and resources in these three nations. 

The activity and resources that can be seen in these images include deployed helicopters, tents, ground attack aircraft, air defense units, vehicle convoys and more, Maxar Technologies shared in an emailed release alongside the satellite images. 

Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd@space.com or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Chelsea “Foxanne” Gohd joined Space.com in 2018 and is now a Senior Writer, writing about everything from climate change to planetary science and human spaceflight in both articles and on-camera in videos. With a degree in Public Health and biological sciences, Chelsea has written and worked for institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Scientific American, Discover Magazine Blog, Astronomy Magazine and Live Science. When not writing, editing or filming something space-y, Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd is writing music and performing as Foxanne, even launching a song to space in 2021 with Inspiration4. You can follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd and @foxannemusic.