In a bid to exert more pressure on Moscow, Washington has released satellite images showing evidence of purported Russian rocket fire into eastern Ukraine. They also show alleged Russian heavy artillery in the possession of pro-Russian rebels.
The images, which were sourced from the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, show areas in the Russian side of the border with blast marks as a result of rocket launches and pockmarked areas in the Ukrainian side where they landed. They also show heavy artillery which are only found in the Russian arsenal that were fired between July 21 and 27 against Ukrainian forces. Some originated from rebel positions.
The images are part of a four-page paper released by the State Department on Sunday as President Obama attempts to convince his European counterparts to impose more sanctions on Russia and make it accountable for the current crisis.
It is also believed that the paper’s release would deter the Russians from building up more weapons and troops in the area. Days earlier, the Pentagon reported that a mobilization of Russian heavy artillery in its border with Ukraine was “imminent.”
Secretary of State John Kerry also phoned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday and insisted that Russia desist from further sending heavy weapons into Ukraine.
Ukraine has been embroiled in a civil war in its eastern region of Donetsk as pro-Russian separatists attempt to break away from the country. Russia, which seized the Crimea earlier from Ukraine, has repeatedly denied accusations from the US and the West of fomenting the unrest by supplying the rebels with arms and ammunition.
The conflict received bigger international recognition after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed on July 17. It is alleged that pro-Russian rebels shot the plane down using sophisticated surface-to-air missile technology provided by Russia.
All 298 passengers and crewmembers died in the crash.