VS’is one of the direct consequences of the war in Ukraine. As Courrier international explains, the role of commercial spy satellites has increased considerably since the start of the Russian invasion of the country on February 24. By producing in particular high-resolution photographs and radar images of the movements of the Russian army, these technologies, used by international bodies and human rights organizations, come to investigate war crimes and the targeting of civilians by the Russian armed forces, in Boutcha and Mariupol in particular.
In concrete terms, since the start of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, commercial spy satellites have collected images of the various public places that were bombed, such as schools and hospitals, and also helped to identify the military units that were guilty of having directly targeted civilians. The data collected then allows investigators from the International Criminal Court and the United Nations, sent to the field, to rely on evidence before possible trials.
“There is truth in the picture,” said Steve Butow, space imaging officer for the Defense Innovation Unit, an agency of the Pentagon, at the big annual gathering of space industry bosses, which s is held in early April in the United States. “We know where the hospitals are, the schools, and the analysis of our data shows that it is precisely these sites that are targeted. This is not Western propaganda. [Les satellites] are able to show very exactly what is happening on the ground,” he also explains.
“The investigation begins now”
Recently, the International Criminal Court opened an investigation into war crimes in Ukraine. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres also called on the international community to coordinate to gather evidence, denouncing the destruction of civilian areas and the rapes and other human rights violations allegedly committed by Russian soldiers.
International mail also points out that commercial spy satellites have become an integral part of armed conflicts around the world, with spectacular technical progress in recent years with improved image resolution. The case of the war in Ukraine is specific because the investigation can be carried out there in real time because access to satellite data is now free and no longer reserved solely for intelligence agencies.
“The trials may not take place immediately, but the investigation begins now. We collect information in real time, and the investigators get to work even as the conflict rages, ”underlines our colleagues Andrew Zolli, of the specialized company Planet Labs. Commercial spy satellites are therefore more than ever a decisive tool for exposing war crimes and their use should expand and improve in the coming decades.