The State Department announced on Friday that it has confirmed that Russia, which has repeatedly denied stoking unrest in Ukraine, sent tanks, rocket launchers and other weapons into the country.
The New York Times reports that "a Western official said that the intelligence about the movement of the tanks and other weapons into Ukraine was shared on Friday with NATO allies," after affirming that tanks seen on Ukrainian streets were, in fact, of Russian origin.
The State Department added on Friday that it expects the Kremlin to deny the claim, saying, "Russia will claim these tanks were taken from Ukrainian forces, but no Ukrainian tank units have been operating in that area,” but adding that it is confident the tanks, and other weapons, are from Russia:
We are confident that these tanks came from Russia.... We also have information that Russia has accumulated multiple rocket launchers at this same deployment site in southwest Russia, and these rocket launchers also recently departed. Internet video has shown what we believe to be these same rocket launchers traveling through Luhansk.
You can see the telling shot here:
The State Department's deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said that the transfer "is unacceptable," adding "a failure by Russia to de-escalate this situation will lead to additional cost." But it's not the first time U.S. officials have made that threat against Russia, and it's unclear what the declaration will mean for already poor ties between the countries. But we have a feeling it won't make things any better.