Historical imagery and Ukraine

As we have mentioned in the past Google Earth does not have any imagery of Ukraine since June 2015, which puts it on the list of censored countries that includes Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. However, a recent report on the citizen journalism site Bellingcat states that Google recently added some historical imagery from July 17, 2014, the day of the downing of Flight MH17. In fact they even know the exact time the image was captured: 11:08am (local time). Google Earth does not show the time that imagery was captured but the reporters at Bellingcat know exactly which DigitalGlobe image was used, and DigitalGlobe does know the exact time that a given image was captured.

If they are correct that the image was only recently added to Google Earth, this would suggest that whatever mechanism has been used to censor the country does not extend to historical imagery from 2014. Also of note is the fact that the Ukraine received Street View in October 2015 although it doesn’t appear to have been updated since then. The most recent Street View we could find was dated July 2015. There is no Street View in most of the eastern parts of the country and Crimea. There is some Street View of Donetsk, but that is dated 2011.

As you can see below, the new sighting of the BUK that is believed to have been used to shoot down Flight MH17 isn’t very significant, as it just adds an extra point to the fairly well documented route of the vehicle that day as identified by Bellingcat from various sources.


The green pin shows the new sighting.

To see the above locations in Google Earth download this KML file Note that the truck carrying the BUK can not be seen in the imagery in most of the locations marked, but rather it is known to have been at those locations at those times because of various photos / videos of it. See this Bellingcat report for the sources of the locations.

At one point Russia released a fake photo supposedly showing a fighter jet shooting down flight MH17.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.






PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.

Comments

  1. ben reuter says:

    That story about censorship is strange. Terraserver is also an US provider and indeed shown recent images of the Russian Build up at Latakia airport! So why doesn’t google do?
    BTW: directly at the Russian/Ukraine border 47.811886° 38.956341° google show a complete Buk Battery (Oct 6th 2014)

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      One guess is that the providers have been asked not to supply the imagery to Google – possibly by buying rights to the imagery. It is also possible the imagery is considered valuable for sale to governments therefore the imagery providers withhold it from Google so as to be able to sell it – but this wouldn’t easily explain such a blanket censorship as we see.

  2. ben reuter says:

    well…the truth is out there but we are not allowed to know.
    Why didn’t google show a picture of the actual launch site at 47.975039° 38.760400° made on July 17th? Instead they offer July 16th and July 20th! They (digital globe) surely will have it!



PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.