A woman holds a child dressed in Soviet army uniform near a Soviet era tank during events to mark Victory Day in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on May 9, 2014. Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko

NATO has released a series of images of Russian military units near the border of Ukraine, that it says “raises questions on Russia’s role in providing tanks to Ukraine.”

Aerial photographs of Russian units at the Rostov Military Staging Area, about 46 miles away from the Ukrainian border, taken between May 30 and June 11 show the movement of Russian T-64 main battle tanks to and from Rostov.


No tanks were present May 30 but 10 were on hand June 11. Russia moved most of its equipment away from Rostov June 6, as part of an announced withdrawal. NATO implies three of these tanks shown loaded on Heavy Equipment Transporters June 11 are the three tanks Ukrainian officials spotted in eastern Ukraine June 12.


Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov says the unmarked tanks came from Russia and blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for not securing the Russian-Ukrainian border, some of which eastern separatists control. The Russian foreign ministry called the accusations “another fake piece of information.”

NATO and the U.S. agree with Ukraine.

“Russian officials have been repeatedly misleading and evasive regarding their roles in both Crimea and eastern Ukraine,” the press release reads. “It is important to bring relevant facts to light in an effort to ensure Russia remains publicly accountable for its actions. If these latest reports are confirmed, this would mark a grave escalation of the crisis in eastern Ukraine in violation of Russia’s Geneva commitments.”

The NATO release then compares the T-64 spotted in an unconfirmed video reportedly shot in Makiivka, Donetsk, with Ukrainian Army T-64 tanks, seemingly to debunk claims that the tanks could have been captured by separatists from the Ukrainian Army.

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These are two videos that show what NATO says are Russian T-64’s: