The Wall Street Journal reports that the US, Ukraine, and its allies are paying companies with spy satellites to collect intelligence on Russian troop movements.
Western counties have worked with several firms that maintain hundreds of satellites making passes over Ukraine each day. While the satellites have different abilities, some can scan the entire country daily with a nine-foot resolution. Other companies collect intelligence through clouds and at night.
HawkEye 360’s fleet of satellites can actively follow Russian troop movements. John Serafini, the firm’s CEO, said it has been following Russian forces using GPS jamming equipment.
Maxar Technologies is contracting with various media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal. The firm provides journalists with images of a broad range of Ukraine with a 12-inch resolution.
Officials have recently discussed giving Kiev more detailed intelligence as the battle moves to Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. The US claims it assisted the Ukrainian military in downing a Russian troop transport, killing hundreds.
Senior national security officials told the outlet that the more affordable space-based technology is making it more difficult for Russia to hide its troop placements. Officials also noted that it is easier for the White House to declassify its intelligence because the data collected from private satellites is public information.
The WSJ report underscored, "The data from commercial spacecraft may not be as high-quality as those the latest U.S. spy satellites can reap, but they can be easily shared without the encumbrance of security restrictions."