Russia is not only supplying weapons to rebels but is also firing

first_imgRUSSIA FIRED ARTILLERY on positions inside the Ukraine overnight in support of rebels in the warring east of the country according to the Ukrainian army.The fire from the Russian side came in clashes at between rebels and the Ukranian military at a border crossing.Ukrainian forces are trying to close in on the rebels, cutting them off from the border with Russia which Kiev believes is the source of arms and reinforcement.The claims are backed up by the US who say they have evidence that Russian forces were firing artillery from inside Russia on Ukrainian troops.US officials called a “clear escalation” of the conflict.Moscow is also planning to “deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers” to the pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine, US deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.The evidence was based on “intelligence information” indicating arms were “continuing to flow across the border” into Ukraine since the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner with 298 on board, Harf said.But she refused to reveal the evidence behind the allegation or give further information.“They’re firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military,” Harf told reporters.Washington, however, was still looking into the downing of two Ukrainian fighter jets on Wednesday. Kiev has alleged the warplanes were hit by missiles fired from Russian territory.The shelling by Russian forces against Ukrainian positions had been “going on for several days,” said Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren.“It’s a clear escalation,” Warren told reporters.The Pentagon did not specify the precise location of the Russian artillery units or the artillery fire.The Russian shelling has taken place “within the last 14 days,” according to a statement issued by US intelligence agencies.Russia has continued a troop build-up near the border of Ukraine and kept up deliveries of arms and equipment to separatists since the downing of the Malaysian airliner, US defense officials told AFP.The Russians have sent at least one battalion a week to the border area in recent weeks, raising the troop level to 15,000 forces, up from about 12,000 last week, said two defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.“It looks like a steady increase,” one official said.Military hardware has also continued to arrive at a large base set up near Rostov, which is used as a staging and training area before the equipment is transported to the rebels in Ukraine, according to defense officials.US intelligence officials said this week that artillery and multiple rocket launcher systems recently arrived at the southwestern base in Rostov.Moscow has vehemently denied a role in the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and government troops which has left more than 400 people dead and displaced tens of thousands.© – AFP 2014 with additional reporting by Associated Press Read: Ukraine’s Prime Minister has resigned >Read: Bodies of MH17 victims keep arriving in the Netherlands >last_img

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