The US claims a convoy of three T-64 tanks, several BM-21 or Grad multiple rocket launchers have crossed from Russia into Ukraine.
Sat Jun 14, 2014 3:41AM GMT
The US State Department has accused Russia of dispatching tanks and rocket launchers to Ukraine, calling the move “unacceptable.”
“We are highly concerned by new Russian efforts to support the separatists,” deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters on Friday.
“In the last three days a convoy of three T-64 tanks, several BM-21 or Grad multiple rocket launchers and other military vehicles crossed from Russia into Ukraine,” she said. “This is unacceptable.”
The US called the old tanks Cold War relics which are no longer used by Russia, but Ukrainian army still uses them and that it is believed that the Russians have more in storage.
“We have information that Russia has accumulated tanks of a type no longer used by Russian forces at a deployment site in southwest Russia, and some of these tanks recently departed,” the State Department noted in a later statement.
According to the statement, Russia says that the tanks belong to Ukraine, but no tank from Ukraine has been operating in the area.
“Russia will claim these tanks were taken from Ukrainian forces, but no Ukrainian tank units have been operating in that area,” the statement said. “We are confident that these tanks came from Russia.”
Harf said that the tanks had been brought from warehouses in Russia, noting the fighters in Ukraine had been taught how to use them.
“They were somehow pulled out of the Russian warehouses, someone taught them how to use them, and they were sent from Russia to Ukraine,” she said.
Washington has long accused Moscow of interfering in Ukraine and of providing arms and support to the fighters in the east-European country.
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are still running high. The government in Kiev has not directly blamed Moscow for sending in the tanks but says Russia failed to fulfill its border control commitments.
Meanwhile, Russia says authorities in Kiev should be punished for the use of illegal weapons including white phosphorous on citizens in the east of the country.