The US Defense Department denied on Thursday that it gave Ukrainian forces knowledge on the whereabouts of Russian generals on the battlefield so that they might assassinate them.
In response to an explosive New York Times revelation on US military aid to Ukraine, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said it was true that the US provides military intelligence to Kyiv’s forces “to help Ukrainians protect their nation.”
“We don’t share intelligence on the whereabouts of senior military officials on the battlefield, and we don’t participate in the Ukrainian military’s targeting decisions,” Kirby said.
In a related development, US media reported later Thursday that the US contributed intelligence that assisted Ukraine in sinking the Russian battleship Moskva last month, dealing President Vladimir Putin a major setback.
According to AFP, the US does not “give particular targeting information on ships,” according to a US official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“We do give a spectrum of intelligence to help the Ukrainians comprehend the threat presented by Russian ships in the Black Sea,” the official said.
According to an NBC report, Ukraine contacted Washington about a ship travelling in the Black Sea, which the US assisted in locating and identifying as the Moskva.
According to authorities cited by NBC, the US was unaware that Ukraine would strike the flagship vessel.
Ukraine has had special success bombing Russian command centres, and according to sources, came dangerously close to striking a place near the front lines in the Donbas region last week where Russia’s top general, Valery Gerasimov, was said to be visiting troops.
According to unsubstantiated sources, Ukraine military shelled the location mere hours after Gerasimov fled.
According to the New York Times piece, “many” of the around dozen Russian generals slain by Ukrainian forces were targeted with the assistance of US intelligence.
According to the publication, the US had provided information on the Russian military’s mobile headquarters, which move around frequently.
According to the article, Ukrainian forces combined that knowledge with their own to attack senior Russian officers.
Ukraine, according to Kirby, makes its own decisions about whether or not to target a Russian leader.
“Ukraine integrates information from us and other partners with intelligence gathered on the battlefield by themselves,” he explained.
“After that, they make their own decisions and act on their own.”
The National Security Council of the White House called the New York Times piece “irresponsible.”
“The US supplies combat information to assist the Ukrainians in defending their country,” said National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson.
“We don’t supply intelligence with the goal of assassinating Russian generals.”
Ukraine is receiving billions of dollars in military equipment and ammunition from the United States, as well as instruction on how to use them.
It also provides intelligence to Kyiv gathered from satellites, electronic surveillance operations, and other sources.
However, the White House and the Pentagon have tried to keep the true nature of US aid under wraps in order to prevent inciting Russia into a wider battle beyond Ukraine’s borders.
Nonetheless, since the Russian invasion on February 24, Washington’s backing for Ukraine has only expanded and become more outspoken.
The US initially stated that it just sought to assist Ukraine in surviving the conflict.
However, Washington now claims that its long-term goal in the war is to weaken Russia.
After a visit to Kyiv in late April, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin remarked, “We want to see Russia degraded to the point where it can’t conduct the types of things it’s done in invading Ukraine.”