Russian-backed separatists have begun using a new rocket-propelled grenade against Ukrainian forces in the Donbas, 112.ua reported.
The rebels used a Russian RPG-27 Tavolga anti-tank grenade launcher against Ukrainian troops in a village on the front lines of the Luhansk region, 112.ua said, citing the International Human Rights Community.
The war in eastern Ukraine started shortly after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 when pro-Russian Ukrainians proclaimed parts of the Donbas as independent states known as the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.
Russia has funded, managed and supplied weapons to these rebel states ever since. Moscow admitted it was helping the rebels in late 2015 after repeated denials to the contrary. The separatists also claim that most of their weapons have been captured from Ukrainian armories or the battlefield.
But this new development is just more “evidence of the direct involvement of Russia in Eastern Ukraine,” the International Human Rights Community said, since Ukraine has never had this kind of grenade launcher.
The RPG-27 was developed by Russia in 1989, weighs about 18 pounds, and is capable of firing 105mm rounds, according to 112.us and Rosoboronexport, the Russian arms manufacturer that produces it.
It’s maximum distance is about 218 yards, and it can pierce about 24 inches of rolled homogenous armor, 59 inches of reinforced concrete and 79 inches of brick, Rosoboronexport said.
Reports of this new RPG being used by separatists comes on the heels of the Pentagon announcing a plan, which President Donald Trump has yet to approve, to deter Russia by arming Kiev with Javelin anti-tank missiles and other defensive weapons.
A previous version of this article said Moscow “categorically denied” it was helping rebels in Ukraine. It has been corrected to state that Russia admitted its presence in the country in late 2015, following repeated denials to the contrary.