Google has taken a variety of moves in reaction to the Kremlin’s military campaign since late February, including stopping ad sales in Russia and disabling Google Pay. Recently, Google Maps started revealing coordinates of Russian military airfields and navy warships.
Google has disputed making any modifications to the way its Maps service displays Russia’s important military facilities. On Tuesday, Russia issued a statement in reaction to news that Google Maps had unobscured Russia’s military airfields and navy warships.
“Google Maps has opened access to Russia’s military and strategic facilities,” said the caption on a handful of satellite pictures uploaded by an unverified Ukrainian Twitter account connected to the country’s armed forces on Monday. The official account of the country’s Defense Ministry has referenced the account in question multiple times.
For Ukrainian warriors a torn turret of a russian tank is not only a symbol of inevitable victory, but a piece of contemporary art too.
We already have quite a collection!
— Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) April 16, 2022
Two of the photographs appear to indicate military airfields with multiple motionless fighter jets, whereas the other two portray what seems to be navy boats. The tweet claimed that “now everyone can see a variety of Russian launchers, intercontinental ballistic missile silos, command posts and secret ranges with a resolution of about 0.5 meters per pixel.”
By Tuesday morning, the message had approximately 2,500 retweets and had been referenced by multiple news outlets. Google Maps was interested in one of the reports. “We haven’t made any blurring changes to our satellite imagery in Russia,” the company’s Twitter account told media site NEXTA, which is prohibited in Belarus.
On Monday, The Verge reached out to Google directly for comment. Genevieve Park, a spokesperson for the internet giant, stated in an email that the firm has not “made any blurring changes to our satellite imagery in Russia.” According to The Verge, at least one of the photographs included in the initial tweet is viewable on Google Maps, indicating a “active Russian military site,” as characterized by the publication. Furthermore, the journalists claim that using Google Maps, they were able to pinpoint a few other military locations in Russia.
These installations were visible before Russia initiated its military operation against Ukraine in late February, according to the article. According to The Verge, a number of similar installations in other nations, including the United States, can also be viewed for free via Google Maps. Images were significantly blurred in some situations, such as at the French Air Force’s air base 705 on the outskirts of Tours, according to the story.
Google has taken a variety of moves in reaction to the Kremlin’s military campaign since late February, including stopping ad sales in Russia and disabling Google Pay. YouTube has also blocked a number of Russian state-funded media channels.
In retaliation, the Russian government has threatened Google with heavy fines unless it restores accessibility to the blacklisted media outlets’ channels.
Following Ukraine’s refusal to fulfill the conditions of the Minsk agreements, which were first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s subsequent recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, Russia launched an attack on its neighboring state in late February. The protocols negotiated by Germany and France were intended to grant the separatist areas special status within the Ukrainian state.
Since then, the Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine designate itself a neutral country that will never join the NATO military alliance led by the United States. Kiev believes the Russian offensive was unjustified and refutes suggestions that it planned to seize the two republics by force.