The US State Department has released satellite images via email which it says act as “evidence” that Russia is firing rockets at Ukrainian troops across the border. The images were posted on Twitter by the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.
The four-page emailed document, titled 'Evidence of Russian Shelling into Ukraine,' contains four satellite images, all dating between July 21 and July 25/26.
Monochrome images taken by civilian satellites are said to be indicating fire from multiple rocket launchers “on the Russian side of the border” and “artillery strikes within Ukraine.”
The slides were prepared by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and came supplied with a short description. Thus, a slide dated July 25/26 shows what US officials claim to be “ground scarring at a multiple rocket launch site on the Russian side of the border oriented in the direction of Ukrainian military units within Ukraine.”
Multiple Rocket Launcher Strikes within Ukraine (25/26 July) pic.twitter.com/unPzVA7uOZ
— Geoffrey Pyatt (@GeoffPyatt) July 27, 2014
The slide taken on July 23 is said to show self-propelled artillery “oriented in the direction of a Ukrainian military unit within Ukraine.” It said that “the pattern of crater impacts near the Ukrainian military unit indicates strikes from artillery” fired from self-propelled or towed artillery, vice multiple rocket launchers “only found in Russian military units, on the Russian side of the border.”
Taken on July 21, the last image is said to be illustrating a
“wide area of impacts near the Ukrainian military” that
“indicates fire from multiple rocket launchers.”
“The bottom impact crater inset shows impacts within a local village,” DNI claimed.
The US State Department made no official statement – to the press
or on its website – linked to the email release, but directed its
followers on Twitter to Pyatt's microblog, where he uploaded
“new images of evidence.”
Pyatt did share images on his Twitter account, but did not include any additional information.
Washington also said that more details would be available on the website of its embassy in Ukraine. However, at the moment of publication, there were no updates to be found on the embassy's site or on Pyatt's blog on the same page.
— Department of State (@StateDept) July 27, 2014
Paul Craig Roberts, columnist and head of the Institute for
Political Economy, told RT that he doubts the credibility of the
photographs released by the State Department.
“I can state with complete confidence that information this important would not be released in this way,” Roberts said. “If this was released by the State Department, which I doubt, it is so unprofessional; it would mean that the State Department is trying to spread propaganda about Russia on social media. Now the way this type of information would be released would be at a press conference with a high level of government officials addressing the bureau chiefs of the major news organizations.”
He added that experts would explain the meaning of the photographs and their validity.
“The US government has been desperate to produce information to back up its claims. It would not release information in this way,” he said, adding that anyone can spread information on social media.
Russia has been repeatedly criticizing the US for accusations
made by the State Department without any sustainable evidence.
Washington directly blamed Moscow for building up troops close to
the border, as well as for the “firing of Russian heavy
weapons from the Russian side of the border at Ukrainian military
On Sunday, however, Russia’s Defense Ministry said that international inspectors who have been coming to check the state of Moscow's troops along the Ukrainian borders have found no violations.
“It has come to our attention that new allegations by top US officials as to the alleged amassing of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border have been voiced,” the ministry said.
The ministry listed the international makeup of those
inspections, which include representatives from the US, as well
as NATO and Ukraine.
“No instances of violations by Russia along the Ukrainian border had been registered by the inspectors,” the ministry said. “Frequent action by the Ukrainian military taking place on the Russian border has hindered our own ability to perform similar inspections and flybys along our border,” it continued.