According to Ukraine these pictures are further proof of Russian’s increasing military role in supporting the eastern rebellion.
Taken last month, they are said to show a Russian tank operating six kilometres within the Ukraine border.
Further evidence has now been made public by NATO. The alliance claims these satellite images show Russian combat troops in Ukrainian territory. NATO says if such an incursion goes unchecked Russia’s role could prove pivotal in the rebellion’s fight against Kyiv.
Sentiments shared by many attending last weekend’s EU summit in Brussels, most notably member states
For Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Moscow is on a war footing: “I think the situation is worsening. Russia is openly and directly involved in, and is at stage of war against Ukraine and it is clear. That means against a country who wants to be closer to Europe, that means Russia is practically in war against Europe.”
For the moment, however, there’s widespread disagreement over how best to respond to Russia. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel believes tougher sanctions must be given time to bite, rather than military action.
“I personally think that for Germany the supply of weapons is not appropriate and my interpretation of why we don’t want to do this goes along with this, by this I mean there is no military solution to this conflict,” said Merkel
But on the other side of the Atlantic, some fear that sanctions will ultimately prove pointless because President Putin enjoys widespread support.
Speaking on “Meet the Press”, Dianne Feinstein, Chair of US Senate Intelligence Committee said: “The Russians are very brave and very long-suffering, and they will tough out any economic difficulty.”
Many in Washington are now in favour of giving Kyiv military support but last Thursday President Barack Obama ruled out such a move.
“It is not in the cards for us to see a military confrontation between Russia and the United States in this region,” he told reporters at a White House briefing.
Obama also made it clear that Article 5 of NATO’s charter states that an attack on one member is an attack on all. Ukraine is not a member but NATO may now rally together if the alliance feels threatened.
Officially, Russian denies having any active military involvement in the Ukraine crisis.