United States officials have released satellite images (see below) they say show that Russia has fired rockets against Ukrainian forces in the last week, in support of separatist rebels.
The images, which were prepared by the Director of National Intelligence and forwarded to reporters by the State Department, show what the U.S. government says are multiple rocket launchers and self-propelled howitzers on Russian territory.
Others images show impact craters near military positions on the Ukrainian side of the border and what Washington says is Russian-supplied heavy weaponry being fired by separatists from within Ukraine between July 21 and July 26.
The images released Sunday support statements by a White House spokesman last week that the U.S. had "detected" rockets fired from Russia into Ukraine.
A leading Russian lawmaker has reportedly disputed the U.S. claim.
The US “is lying [about] self-evident things,” said deputy chairman of the State Duma’s defense committee, Franz Klintsevich, according to RIA Novosti. He added that satellite imagery is not enough to prove that Russia is engaging in cross-border military operations. It requires data from other systems as well, said he but did not elaborate.
International scrutiny of the Russian role in Ukraine's violent separatist unrest increased after a Malaysian airliner was shot down in eastern Ukraine earlier this month, allegedly by Russia-backed rebels.
Moscow denies it is directly intervening in the Ukrainian conflict or has any role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which killed all 298 people aboard.
The satellite images as tweeted by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt:
Multiple Rocket Launcher Strikes Within Ukraine (21 July 14) pic.twitter.com/i6IgcCkAl2— Geoffrey Pyatt (@GeoffPyatt) July 27, 2014
Artillery Strikes Within Ukraine (23 July 14) pic.twitter.com/oXnzurosM7— Geoffrey Pyatt (@GeoffPyatt) July 27, 2014
Artillery Strikes Within Ukraine (23 July 14) pic.twitter.com/zoUFZkFCLk— Geoffrey Pyatt (@GeoffPyatt) July 27, 2014