A team of the Bellingcat investigative website using satellite images found proof that the Ukrainian artillery positions were fired at from the territory of the Russian Federation last summer.
The investigators note that "the Ukrainian armed forces positioned near the Russian-Ukrainian border were attacked by artillery fire in the summer of 2014. Between Jul. 9 and Sept. 5, 2014, the Ukrainian Border Service and the National Security and Defense Council reported more than 120 artillery attacks from Russia. Russian officials, however, have denied the existence of any artillery attacks on Ukraine originating from its territory.
"The pressure of sustained artillery attacks through early August led Ukrainian armed forces to lose control of hundreds of kilometers of border territory. Google Earth satellite images of eastern Ukraine from July, August, and September 2014 have enabled the Bellingcat investigation team to find evidence of these artillery attacks, determine their origin, and compare them with local sources.
"In a 14 July 2014 summary of the "anti-terrorist operation," Ukrainian media reported that an attack took place on positions of the Ukrainian armed forces in the vicinity of Amvrosiivka. It was suspected that the origin of this attack was from the territory of Russia.
"On the satellite image below, taken on 16 July 2014, an extensive crater field south of Amvrosiivka is visible, located at the coordinates 47°45'52.38″N 38°30'47.65″E.
"The Bellingcat investigation team counted a total of 330 craters in this crater field, and determined the observable direction of each impact crater based on the analysis methods previously described. From these 330 craters, the average trajectory was calculated, and was determined to be 193.97°, i.e. from the south-south west (180 ° being due south). When screening for possible firing positions from this trajectory, the Bellingcat investigation team found a firing position 14.6km from the crater field. Burn marks are visible at this location, which is on Russian territory and approximately 750m from the border near the Russian village of Seleznev at the coordinates 47°38'13.52″N 38°28'9.69″E.
Crater field and firing position, viewing north-north-east
"There were clashes in the area of Dovhanska-Kapitalna mine, near the Ukrainian village of Panchenkove. A satellite image of Aug. 8 recorded a large number of traces of artillery strikes. The analysis of calculated trajectories in the region of the cluster of craters showed that six different strikes from five different directions were conducted in this area. All of them - except for a position near Chervonopartyzansk (Ukraine), which is in close proximity to the border - are clearly in Russia: near Nizhyaya Kovalevka, Pavlovka, Ukrainskoe and Gukovo.
Crater congestion area near the Dovhanska-Kapitalna mine
On Jul. 25 the Ukrainian positions near the village of Khmelnytskyi in the Luhansk region were shelled. The tracks are also available from Google Earth. The trajectory of 9 craters out of 209 points straight to the east. The other two trajectories are from the southeast. All three clearly indicate the firing positions in the Russian territory. These firing positions are directly related to the military camp of the Russian army near Pavlovka and a smaller firing position closer to Maloye.
Comparison of video grabs from Ruptly and satellite images from Google Earth Aug. 15, 2014
Results of the craters' analysis near Khmelnytskyi village south of Sverdlovsk.