Satellite, Drone Images Show Obliteration of Donetsk Airport

Ukrainian forces retreat after shelling by pro-Russian separatists

Satellite and drone images in a new video show the complete destruction of the Donetsk International Airport in Ukraine, a scene of intense clashes between government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Matthew Schroyer, founder of the Professional Society of Drone Journalists, posted the video, which provides visual evidence of the demolition of the airport. Separatists have been shelling the airport since May 2014, and Ukrainian officials announced Thursday that they were retreating from the symbolic site.

The pullback by Ukrainian troops marked the most significant defeat yet for government forces since a ceasefire was reached last September, the Los Angeles Times reported:

Sergei Prokofiev International Airport was a gleaming symbol of prosperity in Donetsk, modernized three years ago when the city hosted the 2012 European soccer championship. The glass-and-steel facade of the main terminal has been reduced to ruins; the control tower has collapsed, and the runways have been pocked by shelling. Still, analysts say the airport could eventually provide a key supply line into the region.

The airport’s destruction has stripped it of any immediate strategic advantage for the militants, but its fall nonetheless dealt a demoralizing defeat to the government forces who had struggled to retain their last stronghold in Donetsk.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has accused Russia of deploying as many as 9,000 troops to aid the separatists. Nearly 5,000 people have died since the conflict began last April.