Vladimir Putin has steadfastly denied that Russian units are working with separatists in eastern Ukraine, but photos suggest otherwise, the New York Times reports. Expert gunmen known as "green men" have led the way as separatists take over government buildings, and their gear matches that of Russian special forces that helped take Crimea. Certain individuals who appear in eastern Ukraine photos have also been photographed with Russian troops, the Times notes, offering a comparison of the photos.
"There has been broad unity in the international community about the connection between Russia and some of the armed militants in eastern Ukraine, and the photos presented by the Ukrainians last week only further confirm this," says a spokeswoman for the US State Department. Russia has a history of "maskirovka," or masked warfare, the Times notes—and the practice complicates Western efforts to address the situation. The US has said it's Russia's job to oversee an end to the occupation of east Ukraine government buildings, and Moscow could face new sanctions if it fails to do so. Meanwhile, the BBC reports that Russia has bizarre plans for newly annexed Crimea—a gambling zone. (Read more Ukraine stories.)