NEW YORK (CNN) – U.S. spy satellites indicate that Ukraine has launched powerful missiles against pro-Russian rebels.
CNN has learned U.S. spy satellites picked up a troubling escalation in the fighting in Ukraine. U.S. intelligence observed Ukrainian government forces for the first time using short range ballistic missiles against pro Russian rebels’ positions.
The missiles, with a 50 mile range and one thousand pound warhead, are the deadliest weapon used to date. Satellites picked up the heat signature of the missiles as they launched, and landed near the rebel held town of Snizhe close to the Russian border.
Landing just about 15 miles from the wreckage of MH-17. Official Washington did not want to talk about it.
“I’m not in a position to talk about those specific reports,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
“Without getting into the CNN report about the missile launches, and we have said and yes you are right Ukrainian security forces have been, have had some success in recent days against the separatists in certain areas inside eastern Ukraine,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. Josh Kirby.
Ukraine’s foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin denied it all.
“We did not use any sort of ballistic missiles and we are not gonna use ballistic missiles,” said Klimkin.
The U.S. believes Ukraine used ground missiles because its aircraft have been shot down by separatists. This keeps them out of that kill zone, just as they are gaining ground against the rebels. The use of the powerful missiles comes as the U.S. is looking to pressure Russia to force a de-escalation in the violence. The U.S. still pinning the blame on Moscow.
“The Russians and their so-called volunteers are continuing to ship arms and funds and personnel across the border,” said Secretary of State John Kerry.
So far, no reaction from Russians to this latest turn in the war.