Analysis of the images date massacre to before Russian forces evacuated the Ukrainian city

The corpses’ positions on the photos, taken in mid-March, match those from smartphone pictures published in early April, allowing the massacre to be precisely dated to before Russian forces evacuated the town.

The analysis of the images, published by the New York Times, is the latest example of the growing importance of satellite imagery to reporters, researchers and activists seeking to document the progression of the war in Ukraine and gather evidence of war crimes in the region. Along with cheap and accessible drone footage, the technology has revolutionised the practice of “open-source intelligence”, or OSINT, says Eliot Higgins, founder of OSINT journalism group Bellingcat.

“Syria was where everyone learned the value of satellite imagery when it came to this kind of stuff,” Higgins says. “But now, thanks to the work of companies like Planet Labs, we’re in a position where we can even task satellites a few times a month to certain locations. Lots of people are doing that at the moment, and they’re all focused on Ukraine, so what we’re getting is lots and lots of good resolution satellite imagery from all over the country.

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