Russia-Ukraine: the first conflict of the OSINT era

Do you know the term OSINT? It is an acronym in English meaning Open Source Intelligence, or Information on Public Data in French. This methodology was popularized by the Bellingcat group created in July 2014 by Eliot Higgins, who notably engaged in the analysis of data relating to the destruction of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 shot down on July 17 of the same year, demonstrating the involvement of Russian BUK systems in the destruction of the device. Later, this same Bellingcat group demonstrated the involvement of agents of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence services, in the poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Elena in 2018. Since then, this methodology based on the scrupulous analysis of all available sources around a given event to establish the context, the chronology and the participants (therefore the responsibilities), has inspired many other analysts who are very present on the Internet, in particular on the social network Twitter.

The Russo-Ukrainian crisis was, as such, methodically analyzed by these specialists who played a decisive role in the course of the war today. Thus, beyond the declarations sometimes called into question by Western and especially European public opinion emanating from the American and British intelligence services with regard to the construction of the Russian military force around Ukraine in recent months, the OSINT community has forcefully demonstrated details the reality of the thing, based on the analysis of countless videos published by the Russians themselves on social networks, showing significant troop movements, but also on photo and radar shots taken by civilian satellites, thus making it possible to accredit with relevance the reality of this deployment of forces.

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The Bellingcat group highlighted the responsibility of GRU agents in the poisoning of Sergei Srkipal and his daughter in Novichok. copyright bellincat

In addition, this information captured, analyzed and made available by this OSINT community enabled other specialists, with a more operational and military profile, to analyze in detail the reality of the threat of Russian intervention, whereas for many , the hypothesis of a Russian offensive on Ukraine remained speculative. Once the conflict has begun, this same association between OSINT specialists and operational analysts now makes it possible to follow with some precision the course of the war, the Ukrainian resistance, as well as to avoid falling into the traps of combat propaganda also emanating from both from the Russian and Ukrainian camp. However, beyond these already determining aspects, the communist OSINT has played an even more strategic role in this conflict, by annihilating all the narrative and the attempts of instrumentalization and manipulation of the Russian services to justify this war.

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