Russia Sent Tanks To Ukraine Separatists, And The U.S. State Department Ain't Having It

As if Ukraine's strangely well-outfitted separatist fighters tied to Russian special forces wasn't enough of an indication of the Kremlin's involvement in Ukraine's ongoing unrest, here's an even more obvious sign: Russia is sending tanks and weapons to Ukraine separatists, the U.S. State Department said Friday. That's not exactly great news.

Over the last few days, Russia moved heavy weaponry and tanks into Ukraine, according to a news conference led by State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

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 near the Ukrainian town of Snizhne. This is unacceptable.

Apparently Poroshenko has protested the weapons movement with Putin himself, and Secretary of State John Kerry brought it up with Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister.

All this despite the D-Day photo op Putin endured with Ukraine's new president, the chocolate tycoon Petro Poroshenko, where the two apparently exchanged some niceties. Which didn't go unnoticed by the State Department, of course.

We and our European allies have encouraged Russia to support the peace plan and to cooperate with President Poroshenko in its implementation, and we were gratified that Presidents Poroshenko and Putin have spoken. At the same time, however, we are highly concerned by new Russian efforts to support the separatists.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On Thursday, Russia denied that it sent tanks to Ukraine and called the rumors "another false report," according to the BBC. The New York Times quoted the State Department on Friday saying Russia would deny the reports and backing them up regardless.

Russia will claim these tanks were taken from Ukrainian forces, but no Ukrainian tank units have been operating in that area. We are confident that these tanks came from Russia.