Russia and Ukraine trade accusations of cross-border shelling, combat escalation
By End the Lie
The Obama administration and Ukraine have accused Russia of firing artillery from Russia into Ukrainian territory and amassing heavy weapons near the border, while Russia has accused Ukraine of shelling a village in Russian territory.
The two countries exchanged accusations as combat continues to escalate in eastern Ukraine.
The U.S. and Ukrainian officials said that Russia has shelled Ukrainian military targets across the border between the two countries. A Ukrainian military spokesman also claimed that their forces shot down three Russian surveillance drones, according to The New York Times.
American officials said Russia is apparently planning to arm rebels in eastern Ukraine with high powered weaponry, including tanks and armored vehicles, citing satellite images and other military intelligence.
However, Russia’s ITAR-TASS reports that around 45 Ukrainian shells hit a village in the Rostov region of southern Russia, citing a spokesman for the border guard service.
At least 50 local residents were evacuated from Primiussky village, according to the spokesman cited by ITAR-TASS, who also said that no one was injured.
The Russian outlet said that the shells came from the combat area of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
ITAR-TASS also cited Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee, who said that a team of Russian inspectors came under mortar fire from Ukraine while inspecting the area near Primiussky.
“During the inspection, the investigators who were wearing clothes with insignia and inscriptions came under intensive mortar fire,” Markin said. “Preliminary reports say that an underage girl was slightly wounded in the accident,” he added, according to ITAR-TASS.
The Ukrainian military is similarly strong in stating that Russia is firing on Ukraine.
“We have facts of shelling of Ukrainian positions from the territory of Russian Federation,” said Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko on Friday in Kiev. “We have facts on the violation of air border between Ukraine and Russia.”
An unnamed NATO military officer cited by the Times also said Russia is shelling Ukraine.
“The United States has shared intelligence information with NATO today regarding strikes that are occurring from within Russian territory firing into Ukraine territory,” the unnamed officer said.
Lysenko also said that Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine have surrendered to Ukrainian forces.
“We have information about weapons and mercenaries, who have respective skills for warfare, who have been passing over from the territory of Russian Federation,” he said.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said that there is no question that the Russian military is firing on Ukrainian military sites.
“This clearly is a military escalation,” Warren said, according to Fox News.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf first publicly accused Russia of firing on Ukraine during a press briefing Thursday.
“We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to separatist forces in Ukraine and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russian to attack Ukrainian military positions,” Harf said.
Harf said that the evidence came from “human intelligence information” but would not elaborate. She said that elaboration would compromise sources and methods of intelligence gathering.
The Pentagon said that Russia has been firing artillery on Ukraine for several days now.