BY MAKSYMILIAN CZUPERSKI, JOHN HERBST, ELIOT HIGGINS, ALINA POLYAKOVA, AND DAMON WILSON
Russia is at war with Ukraine. Russian citizens and soldiers are fighting and dying in a war of their government’s own making. Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to deny Russian involvement in the fighting, but the evidence is overwhelming and indisputable. Drawing upon open source information, Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine provides irrefutable evidence of direct Russian military involvement in eastern Ukraine.
This report, the result of an Atlantic Council Working Group launched to examine direct Russian military involvement in Ukraine, has five key findings:
- Satellite images confirm the movement of Russian troops and camp buildups along the Ukrainian border.
- Russian training camps stationed along the Ukrainian border are the launching points of Russia’s war in Ukraine. These camps are the staging ground for Russian military equipment transported into Ukraine, soon to join the separatist arsenal, and for Russian soldiers mobilized across Russia to cross into Ukraine.
- Commanders order Russian soldiers to conceal the identifying features of military vehicles, remove insignia from uniforms, and travel across the border to join separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.
- A variety of Russian manufactured arms and munitions—not used by the Ukrainian military—have appeared in the hands of separatists, including shoulder launched surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS), various types of rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles, landmines, and various small arms.
- During key offensives, Russian forces in Ukraine have received cover from Russian territory. A combination of satellite data, crater analysis, and open source materials confirms that many attacks originated in Russia.