Russian secret training grounds in the South of Ukraine


Since the beginning of the Russian full scale invasion into Ukraine, the Russian Armed Forces have regularly turned occupied South of Ukraine into its military base and used civilians as “human shield”. 

Russian occupants use illegally “expropriated” private houses, apartments, resort complexes and hotels as their military barracks and hospitals. Ukrainian factories are exploited to repair Russian damaged military equipment and armored vehicles. Russian troops have also turned Ukrainian natural reserves and agricultural lands into military training grounds where Russian soldiers learn how to kill Ukrainians. 

The Center for Journalist Investigations identified more than twenty training camps of the Russian Army on occupied lands to the north from the Sea of Azov and Black Sea. Their total area is around 50 thousand hectares. 

We placed all Russian military objects on the online map of Google Maps, in order to understand the scale of environmental crimes of Russian occupants. 

Russian soldiers from brigade “Volki” [Wolves] train on temporarily occupied territory of Zaporizhzhia region, September 2023, screenshot from Russian propagandists’ video 

The largest Russian official training ground is located 10 kilometers to the east from Berdyansk, between villages of Novpetrivka and Kulykivske, Satellite data demonstrates that Russian occupants have started its use since May 2023. For example, there have been far more trenches for training since that time. 

The Armed Forces of Ukraine has regularly hit this training ground – it has been struck once per month by Ukrainian missiles. According to the Ukrainian General Staff of the Army, two battalions of Russian private military company “Wagner” have been trained there in the summer 2023. 

Aerial view of Russian training ground near Novopetrivka village and photos of Russian military training, August-September 2023, collage by

Let us look at Russian military training grounds in Ukrainian natural reserves. 

The largest non-populated island of Europe – Dzharylhach Island – incurred the largest damage. It has been reported in May 2023 that Russian invaders connected the island with the main land near Lazurne village and launched the military training camp there. The Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed a large number of occupants and military vehicles there at the end of July 2023. 

The next natural reserve, seriously damaged by Russian occupants, is worldwide known natural reserve Askania-Nova. Russian occupants have hunted rare animals and killed birds and unique fauna. 33 thousand hectares of biosphere reserve have suffered from fires and Russian heavy military equipment for the second year. Traces of Russian military vehicles can b easily identified on recent satellite images.

Outcomes of steppe fires on the territory of natural reserve Askania-Nova, 23.09.2023. Source: Sentinel-2 satellite 

Detailed information about Askania-Nova can be found in the material of the Center for Journalist Investigations “Natural Reserve under Fire. How Russia commits environmental crimes in the Ukrainian South” 

Azov-Sivach national natural park is located at the border between Kherson region and Crimea. Since the Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014, Russian occupants have set up large military base there. Militarization of the Crimean peninsula has drastically intensified after the Russian full scale invasion into Ukraine. 

The Russian Army created special military zone near Filativka village in Krasnoperekopsky district, in Northern Crimea. It has been used to concentrate Russian troops and military equipment in barracks and warehouses. The training ground is located 5 kilometers from the village. Satellite data from 23.09.2023 demonstrate that Russian occupants increased the area of training ground by seven times. 

База російської окупаційної армії на північному заході Кримського півострові, 23.09.2023 р., фото супутника Sentinel-2,  колаж:

The basis of the Russian occupation troops in North-West of the Crimean peninsula, 23.09.2023, photo of Sentinel-2 satellite, collage by

Another training ground is situated near Popivka village, its area is over 4 thousand hectares. Russian occupants have built their military base from March till July 2023. Satellite images demonstrate objects which can be used to cover military equipment or to host helicopters. 

New military training ground and base on the image by Sentinel-2 satellite, collage by

Russian occupants installed two military bases on Arabat Spit, near Pryozerne village, 20 kilometers to the west from Popivka. They keep enlarging them. Territories around famous Rose Lake have been turned into large training ground. The Center for Journalist Investigations reported about them at the end of August. 

Russian military bases on Arabat Spit, 29.08.2023, collage by

National natural reserve “Pryazovsky” in Zaporizhzhia region has been also transformed into the training ground. In April 2023, the Center for Journalist Investigations reported that Russian occupants set up training ground for their new recruits at the shore of Molochny estuary. Russian soldiers ruin the natural landscape by shelling, cut forests for their fortifications and kill animals and fish. For example, they erased the island near Radyvonivka village, the natural nest for pelicans. 

The Center for Journalist Investigations identified also four training grounds on the shore of Molochny estuary. The area of one of them is 50 square kilometers. They are situated near villages of Dunaivka, Atmanai, Kyrylivka, Solone and Vovche. 

Training of Russian occupants near Botievo Wind Power Station, village of Prymorsky Posad, August 2023, screenshot of Russian propagandists’ video; collage by

Five Russian training grounds have been identified in southern districts of Donetsk region. Two training camps are situated in Mariupol, amidst ruins of “Azovstal”. 

“Everybody knows that Russians installed training ground on the territory of sports complex “Azovstal”. Local residents heard shooting and explosions there. Military equipment has been observed there since May 2023. Russian air defense systems often worked there”, as reported advisor of Mariupol mayor Petro Andruschenko. 

As he told, Russians have trained their artillery units near villages of Kalynivka, Sartana and Talakivka. Satellite images demonstrate numerous traces of military vehicles and fires.

Traces of Russian heavy military vehicles near Mariupol, 25.09.2023 р. Photo: Sentinel-2 satellite, collage of

It seems that large scale fire in Kalmius natural reserve has been caused by Russian military training. More than 50 thousand hectares of agricultural lands have been burnt out. 

Fire in the forest used by Russian recruits for military training, September 2023, screenshot of video of Russian propagandists