- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 15, 2014

New satellite images reveal that Russian tanks have crossed the border into the eastern part of Ukraine, NATO announced Sunday.

Tanks can be seen in the images leaving Rostov-na-Donu, a region in southwestern Russia, before appearing in Ukraine, NATO said in a statement.

Mashable reports that several tanks and military vehicles were observed Wednesday and Thursday traveling through the eastern Ukrainian cities of Snizhne, Torez and Makiivka, heading toward Donetsk.

NATO points out that none of of the vehicles have markings, which it says is “consistent with Russian vehicles and equipment that were deployed to Crimea.”

“These images raise significant questions concerning Russia’s role in facilitating instability in eastern Ukraine and its involvement in the movement of military equipment from Russian territory into Ukraine,” NATO wrote. “Russian officials have been repeatedly misleading and evasive regarding their roles in both Crimea and eastern Ukraine. It is important to bring relevant facts to light in an effort to ensure Russia remains publicly accountable for its actions.”

“If these latest reports are confirmed, this would mark a grave escalation of the crisis in eastern Ukraine in violation of Russia’s Geneva commitments,” reads the NATO report.

NATO’s evidence comes from open-source photos, amateur video published on YouTube and images from Longmont, Colorado-based commercial satellite imagery vendor, Mashable reported. The website notes that, while often reliable, NATO has been wrong in the past, and the YouTube footage has not yet been verified.

The news comes after pro-Russian separatists shot down an army transport plane in the east on Saturday, killing 49 Ukrainian servicemen.

Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia that the U.S. and its G7 partners would “raise the costs” on Moscow unless it cut ties with separatists.



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