4:29 pm ET update: A Google spokesperson told Ars that the company hasn’t changed anything with regard to blurring out sensitive sites in Russia, so perhaps none of us were looking closely until now.
Original story: On Monday, the Internet got a much better look at military facilities across Russia. Google Maps stopped obscuring the sensitive locations due to Russia’s ongoing invasion of its neighbor Ukraine. The Ukrainian Armed Forces announced the end of Google’s censorship of Russia’s bases on Twitter.
Thanks to former US President Donald Trump, we know that the 0.5 m per pixel resolution available on Google Maps’ satellite view is a far cry from the images available to the US government. But it will be invaluable to the growing mass of open source intelligence analysts. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in late February, the OSINT community on Twitter has been cataloging Russian losses by geolocating images of destroyed tanks, fighting vehicles, aircraft, and cruise missile attacks.
Twitter users have already identified some interesting sights. Images taken of a Russian airbase at Lipetsk show partially disassembled MiG-31s (or perhaps MiG-25s). Another shows several Sukhoi fighter jets painted in patriotic colors, at least one of which is also missing its wings.
Zhukovsky Airport near Moscow shows some oddities parked outside thanks to its role as a test flight center, including a Buran shuttle and a Sukhoi Su-47 technology demonstrator.
I’ll probably get in trouble if I spend much more time in a Google Maps rabbit hole over Russia looking for ICBM sites, but that shouldn’t stop you from posting your finds in the comments.