Satellite images show war in Europe and 2022′s major events

War returned to Europe in 2022 as Russian forces invaded neighboring Ukraine.

At the same time, China continued its march toward a more modern military.

Satellite imagery provider Maxar Technologies compiled a look at the year in images, showing major events from the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing and nighttime at the World Cup in Qatar to crowds in London waiting to pay respects to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II after her death and volcanic eruptions in Tonga and Hawaii.

Military Times staff selected the best of those images related to national security.

Watching the Russian military convoy

Satellite image shows a portion of a Russian military convoy that spanned roughly 40 miles in Hostomel, Ukraine, on Feb. 28, 2022. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
Satellite image shows a portion of a Russian military convoy that spanned roughly 40 miles in Hostomel, Ukraine, on Feb. 28, 2022. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

Days after Russian troops invaded Ukraine for what Russian President Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation,” Maxar captured dozens of satellite images showing a convoy of military vehicles that spanned about 40 miles. Original photos and analysis suggested the convoy was more than 3.25 miles long, and subsequent images showed vehicles on the way to Kyiv stretched much longer. In some parts, the vehicles were sparse, but others showed two or three vehicles across the road.

The battle for Snake Island

Satellite image shows damaged buildings on Snake Island in the Black Sea, May 9, 2022. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
Satellite image shows damaged buildings on Snake Island in the Black Sea, May 9, 2022. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

Russia took control of Snake Island in the first few days of the invasion of Ukraine. The island in the Black Sea is less than 25 miles off Ukraine’s coast and its inhabitants received international attention for defending themselves against Russian forces with some, uh, choice words. Ukraine turned the defiant moment into a postage stamp and citizens lined up to purchase them. Russian forces withdrew from the island in June in what Russia’s Defense Ministry called a “goodwill gesture.

Shelling of a Mariupol theater

Satellite image shows the aftermath of a Russian airstrike on Donetsk Regional Academic Drama Theatre in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 22, 2022. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
Satellite image shows the aftermath of a Russian airstrike on Donetsk Regional Academic Drama Theatre in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 22, 2022. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

Human rights organization Amnesty International called the Russian bombing of the Donetsk Regional Academic Drama Theatre in Mariupol, Ukraine, a war crime. Hundreds of civilians were using the theater as a shelter from Russian shelling when it was attacked on March 16, 2022. In the week after the airstrike, Ukraine estimated 300 people were killed, according to The Associated Press. An AP investigation released in May found evidence to indicate there were closer to 600 people inside the theater.

Kerch Bridge explosion in Crimea

Satellite image shows Crimea Bridge is heavily damaged after an explosion in Crimea, Ukraine, on Oct. 8, 2022. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
Satellite image shows Crimea Bridge is heavily damaged after an explosion in Crimea, Ukraine, on Oct. 8, 2022. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

The 12-mile long Kerch Bridge connects Russia to the Crimean Peninsula and is a key route for Russian troops to transport supplies via vehicles or trains. Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the bridge in May 2018 by driving a truck across it, according to The Associated Press. But after the Oct. 8 blast, traffic on the bridge was suspended temporarily. Trains and automobiles were crossing it again the next day. NPR reported Russia detained eight people in connection to the explosion, including five Russian citizens and two Ukrainians.

Traffic jam at Russia’s border with Georgia

Satellite image shows a traffic jam near Russia’s border with Georgia on Sept. 25, 2022, as people try to leave the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a mobilization of troops. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
Satellite image shows a traffic jam near Russia’s border with Georgia on Sept. 25, 2022, as people try to leave the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a mobilization of troops. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

Putin announced a partial mobilization of reservists in September, and satellite images showing the border in the days after showed traffic jams as people were trying to escape Russia. At least 200,000 Russians are estimated to have left the country that month in order to escape Putin’s military draft, according to The New York Times. Two men who said they left the country to avoid military service requested asylum in the United States after reaching a remote Alaskan island by boat.

China’s military overhaul

China continues to modernize its military capabilities, according to the Pentagon’s annual China Military Power Report. It also continued intensified military activity near Taiwan, a self-governing island which China claims as its own territory.

China held military exercises near Taiwan that spanned several days surrounding U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island in August. China deployed two of its aircraft carriers as part of those exercises, according to USNI News. Maxar Technologies released a satellite image showing the Shandong aircraft carrier at a naval base days before those drills.

Satellite image shows China’s Shandong aircraft carrier at Sanya Naval Base, Hainan Island, China, on July 31, 2022. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
Satellite image shows China’s Shandong aircraft carrier at Sanya Naval Base, Hainan Island, China, on July 31, 2022. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

The Shandong was launched in April 2017 and is equipped with a ski ramp to launch fixed wing aircraft, including the J-15 fighter jet. China launched a third aircraft carrier in July.

China put its aircraft on display at the Zhuhai Airshow in November, showcasing its progress on fighter jets in its fleet. The J-20 stealth fighters were on static display at this year’s show, allowing photographers to obtain better resolutions images of the aircraft than previously possible.

Satellite image shows a Chinese J-20 stealth fighter jet at Dingxin Airfield, Jiuquan, China, June 28, 2022. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
Satellite image shows a Chinese J-20 stealth fighter jet at Dingxin Airfield, Jiuquan, China, June 28, 2022. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

Maxar Technologies released a satellite image of a J-20 sitting at Dingxin Airfield in Jiuquan, China, on June 28. A Chinese military aviation expert told Defense News, based on construction batch numbers painted on the jets, there are at least 200 J-20 fighters in service.

Army-Navy Game

Satellite image shows Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ahead of the Army-Navy Game on Dec. 10, 2022. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
Satellite image shows Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ahead of the Army-Navy Game on Dec. 10, 2022. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

Nearly 70,000 people attended the 2022 edition of the storied Army-Navy Game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, according to the Capital Gazette. Cadets and midshipmen battle for supremacy on the football field in the rivalry that’s also referred to as “America’s Game.” From spirit videos leading up to the match to uniforms that honor military history and events supporting service members and veterans on game day, the Army-Navy game is more than just a football game to fans. Army won the 123rd meeting 20-17 in double overtime. The matchup moves to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, in 2023.