War returned to Europe in 2022 when Russian forces invaded neighboring Ukraine.
At the same time, China continued its march towards a more modern military.
Satellite imagery provider Maxar Technologies has compiled a look at the year in imagery, showing the major events from the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing and the night at the World Cup in Qatar to the crowds in London waiting to present their respects to Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain after her death and volcanic eruptions in Tonga and Hawaii.
The Military Times staff selected the best of those images related to national security.
Watching the Russian military convoy
Days after Russian troops invaded Ukraine for what Russian President Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation,” Maxar captured dozens of satellite images showing a convoy of military vehicles stretching for some 40 miles. Original photos and analysis suggested the convoy was over 3.25 miles long, with subsequent images showing vehicles on the road to Kyiv stretching much further. In some parts the vehicles were sparse, but in others you could see two or three vehicles on the other side of the road.
The Battle for Snake Island
Russia seized control of Snake Island in the early days of the invasion of Ukraine. The Black Sea island is less than 25 miles off the coast of Ukraine and its inhabitants received international attention for fending off Russian forces with a few choice words. Ukraine turned the defiant moment into a postage stamp, and citizens lined up to buy them. Russian forces withdrew from the island in June in what the Russian Defense Ministry called a “goodwill gesture.”
Bombing of a Mariupol theater
The human rights organization Amnesty International has labeled the Russian bombing of the Donetsk Regional Academic Drama Theater in Mariupol, Ukraine, a war crime. Hundreds of civilians were using the theater as a shelter from Russian bombing when it was struck on March 16, 2022. In the week after the airstrike, Ukraine estimated that 300 people were killed, according to The Associated Press. An AP investigation published in May found evidence indicating about 600 people were inside the theater.
Kerch bridge explosion in Crimea
The 12-mile-long Kerch Bridge connects Russia with the Crimean peninsula and is a key route for Russian troops to transport supplies via vehicles or trains. Russian President Vladimir Putin inaugurated the bridge in May 2018 by driving a truck across it, according to The Associated Press. But after the explosion on October 8, traffic on the bridge was temporarily suspended. Trains and automobiles crossed it again the next day. NPR reported that Russia detained eight people in connection with the blast, including five Russian and two Ukrainian nationals.
Traffic jam on the Russian-Georgian border
Putin announced a partial mobilization of reservists in September, and satellite images showing the border in the days after showed traffic jams as people tried to escape Russia. It is estimated that at least 200,000 Russians left the country that month to escape Putin’s military draft, according to The New York Times. Two men who said they left the country to avoid military service have applied for asylum in the United States after arriving by boat on a remote Alaskan island.
China’s military reform
China continues to modernize its military capabilities, according to the Pentagon’s China Military Power Annual Report. It also continued to intensify military activity near Taiwan, a self-governing island that China claims as its own territory.
China held military exercises near Taiwan that lasted several days around US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island in August. China deployed two of its aircraft carriers as part of those exercises, according to USNI News. Maxar Technologies released a satellite image showing the Shandong aircraft carrier at a naval base days before those drills.
The Shandong was launched in April 2017 and is equipped with a ski ramp to launch fixed-wing aircraft, including the J-15 fighter jet. China launched a third aircraft carrier in July.
China displayed its aircraft at the Zhuhai Air Show in November, showcasing its progress on its fleet’s fighter jets. J-20 stealth fighters were on static display at this year’s show, allowing photographers to image the aircraft at higher resolutions than ever before.
Maxar Technologies released a satellite image of a J-20 located at Dingxin Airfield in Jiuquan, China on June 28. A Chinese military aviation expert told Defense News that according to construction lot numbers painted on the planes, there are at least 200 J-20 fighters in service.
Nearly 70,000 people attended the 2022 edition of the historic Army-Navy Game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, according to the Capital Gazette. The cadets and midshipmen battle for supremacy on the football field in the rivalry that is also known as the “America’s Game.” From animated pregame videos to uniforms that honor military history and events that support service members and veterans on game day, Army-Navy play is more than just a game of football for fans. Army won meeting 123 20-17 in double overtime. The matchup moves to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts in 2023.