State Dept: Satellite images show Russian artillery firing into Ukraine

World News -

Russia and Ukraine continue military and political posturing as tensions remain high between the neighboring nations.

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U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State

Russia has continued to fire artillery across the border into Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian government and U.S. State Dept. U.S. officials believe that, based on satellite imagery, Russia is preparing to arm separatists with heavy weapons including tanks and armored vehicles.

The State Dept. released satellite imagery July 27 that the U.S. says shows Russian artillery and rocket batteries firing into Ukraine from Russia on July 23. U.S. Department of State

The State Dept. released satellite imagery July 27 that the U.S. says shows Russian artillery and rocket batteries firing into Ukraine from Russia on July 23.

"Around 40 mortar shells have fallen from Ukraine…in Rostov province." Vasily Malayev, Russian Federal Security Service

Russia responded to Ukrainian and American statements with accusations that Ukrainian forces fired shells across the Russian border.

Ukraine said July 28 that its military has retaken two eastern towns near the site where pro-Russian rebels allegedly fired the surface-to-air missile that brought down flight MH17. Rebels also have control of the area where the plane crashed.

Amvrosiivka

The Ukrainian military said it had shot down three Russian surveillance drones. One of the drones was spotted at a base near Amvrosiivka, which which was subsequently targeted by rocket attacks.

On July 14, NATO estimated Russia had amassed 10,000-12,000 troops along its border with Ukraine. A NATO military officer told Reuters that Russia has been rebuilding its forces along the border since withdrawing most by mid-June. Several units were reported to be moving along the border in the past week.

Ukraine's defense minister said July 14 that a military transport plane had been shot down near the eastern border with Russia. Some 20 people were thought to be on board. Pro-Russian rebels claimed responsibility, but Ukraine said the plane was flying too high to be reached by separatist weapons and suggested the rocket was launched from Russia.

"In the past three days a new Russian missile system has been used against the armed forces of Ukraine… Information has also been confirmed that Russian staff officers are taking part in military operations against Ukrainian forces." Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Poroshenko made the allegation July 14, but it wasn't clear what missile system he was referring to. Three days later the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane, with 298 aboard, was brought down by a missile.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced a 14-step plan to de-escalate the conflict June 18, along with a temporary ceasefire. The plan called for more security on the Ukraine-Russia border. Poroshenko briefed Russian President Vladimir Putin, who wanted the ceasefire extended and called for Ukraine to hold talks with separatists.

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the Federation Council to revoke his authority to invade Ukraine June 24. Putin had been granted the authority after submitting a request in late February, at the height of the crisis in Crimea. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called it a "first practical step."

"[Putin and Poroshenko] discussed a series of priority measures that must be undertaken to implement a ceasefire, as well as the most efficient ways to monitor it." Office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

After a phone call with Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin on June 18, both sides said that a ceasefire had been discussed. Russia's Interfax news service quoted Poroshenko as saying he had already offered a plan that included a "unilateral ceasefire" in eastern Ukraine, but that has not yet been confirmed by either government.

The White House released a statement on March 28 that Russian President Putin called President Obama to discuss a diplomatic solution to the situation in Ukraine. Obama urged Putin to pull back his troops from Ukraine's border and reiterated that the U.S. opposes actions violating Ukraine's sovereignty.

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