By Julian Hattem - 07/27/14 02:30 PM EDT
The United States on Sunday released new satellite photos that it says provide evidence that Russia has fired artillery into Ukraine.
The four black and white photos, reportedly from the Director of National Intelligence, claim to show artillery pieces in Russia that were fired from across the border, leaving craters around a holed-up Ukrainian military unit.
According to a State Department statement cited by several news sources, the images show "self-propelled artillery only found in Russian military units, on the Russian side of the border, oriented in the direction of a Ukrainian military unit within Ukraine."
"Russia-backed separatists have used heavy artillery, provided by Russia, in attacks on Ukrainian forces from inside Ukraine,” the Department added in the statement.
Release of the photos could be an attempt to prod Europe toward backing tougher sanctions against Russia, which the Obama administration has been pressing for weeks.
International ire against the Kremlin has increased over the last two weeks, since Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 298 people onboard. The plan was allegedly shot down by separatists in Ukraine who were trained by and used weapons from Russia.
White House advisor Ben Rhodes on Sunday predicted on CNN that Germany and other nations would enact sectoral sanctions within days The countries have so far been reluctant to take that step, since they are largely reliant on Russia for energy supplies.
Meanwhile, fighting continues in Ukraine.
Government troops have been battling pro-Russian separatists in the eastern city of Horlivka, which they see as a way to gain inroads towards the regional capital of Donetsk.