U.S. Claims Satellite Images Show Russia Fired Artillery Into Ukraine
The State Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence yesterday released satellite images they say are evidence that "Russian forces have fired across the border at Ukrainian military forces, and that Russia-backed separatists have used heavy artillery, provided by Russia, in attacks on Ukrainian forces from inside Ukraine."
From The Washington Post:
The most recent photograph, taken Saturday, shows what are described as "blast marks" from rocket-launcher fire on the Russian side of the border and "impact craters" inside Ukraine.
A photograph labeled as having been taken Wednesday shows a row of vehicles described as "self-propelled artillery only found in Russian military units, on the Russian side of the border, oriented in the direction of a Ukrainian military unit within Ukraine." On the other side of the border, "the pattern of crater impacts near the Ukrainian military unit indicates strikes from artillery fired from self-propelled or towed artillery, vice multiple rocket launchers," the label says.
Here's the State Department's four-page document with pictures on the matter.
At the time the images were released, Secretary of State John Kerry "urged [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov] to stop the flow of heavy weapons and rocket and artillery fire from Russia into Ukraine, and to begin to contribute to deescalating the conflict," and "did not accept" Lavrov's denial of involvement, according to the State Department.
For its part, Russia accuses the U.S. of "an unrelenting campaign of slander against Russia, ever more relying on open lies."
Today, President Barack Obama is having a joint call with leaders of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy. "The call comes as the U.S. and European Union weigh tougher sanctions against Russia," according to the Associated Press, which yesterday noted that "targeted economic sanctions and threats of tougher ones have yet to alter" Russia's behavior in Ukraine.
The United Nations' latest report on the war today highlights that although both sides have been using heavy weaponry, the insurgents have subjected civilians to a "a reign of intimidation and terror." Over 1,100 people have been killed, 3,442 have been wounded, and about 100,000 have fled the area since separatists arrived in the contested regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in mid-April.
The fighting continues today, and as Ukraine's military presses forward, it's further delaying an investigation of the Malaysia Airlines crash site.