U.S.: Russia has fired rockets into Ukraine
WASHINGTON — The United States released satellite images Sunday that it says back up its claims that rockets have been fired from Russia into eastern Ukraine and heavy artillery for separatists has also crossed the border.
A four-page document released from the State Department seems to show blast marks from where rockets were launched and craters where they landed. Officials said the images, sourced from the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, show heavy weapons fired between July 21 and July 26 — after the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
The U.S. images claim to show multiple rocket launchers fired at Ukrainian forces from within Ukraine and from Russian soil. One image shows dozens of craters around a Ukrainian military unit and rockets that can travel more than 7 miles.
Tensions have run high in that region since Russia seized Crimea in March and Washington has been highly critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin's behavior.
More recently, U.S. intelligence officials have said they have what they call a solid circumstantial case that Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine are responsible for downing the Malaysia Airlines plane. Citing satellite imagery, intercepted conversations and social media postings, officials say a Russian-made SA-11 surface-to-air missile hit the plane on July 17.
Moscow angrily denies any involvement in the attack.
U.S. officials said they still don't know who fired the missile or whether Russian military officers were present when it happened. But until Sunday, they were unwilling to share proof that the separatists had the technology to down a plane.
“The wide area of impacts near the Ukrainian military units indicates fire from multiple rocket launchers,” U.S. officials said in their memo.