Pentagon's spokesman has denied that the US gave Kiev military “specific targeting information” that allowed Ukrainian forces to sink a Russian warship in the Black Sea in April.
“We did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva. We were not involved in the Ukrainians’ decision to strike the ship or in the operation they carried out,” Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement on Thursday seemingly downplaying the US military role in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
Kirby's statement came after US officials revealed to NBC News and The New York Times that intelligence given to Kiev by the US military about the location of the Russian warship prior to the strike helped Ukrainian forces sink it.
“We had no prior knowledge of Ukraine’s intent to target the ship. The Ukrainians have their own intelligence capabilities to track and target Russian naval vessels,” claimed the Pentagon spokesman, further downplaying the US military role in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
“Ukraine combines information that we and other partners provide with the intelligence that they themselves are gathering on the battlefield, and then they make their own decisions and they take their own actions,” he added.
Kirby also claimed that specific targeting information had not been provided about the location of Russia's senior commanders serving in the conflict zone. “We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield."
Meantime, Russia has warned the US that providing Kiev with military aid would only exacerbate the Ukraine conflict.
Asked about the US providing intelligence to Kiev to strike Russian targets, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that Russia was aware that "the United States, Britain and NATO as a whole are constantly transmitting intelligence and other parameters to the Ukrainian armed forces.”
“Coupled with the flow of weapons that these countries are sending to Ukraine, these are all actions that do not contribute to the quick completion of the operation,” Peskov pointed out.
Moscow has condemned Washington and its allies for adding fuel to the fire, thus preventing the conflict in Ukraine from being resolved.
Russia launched its special operation in Ukraine in February.
The US and its European allies in response poured cash and increasingly heavy and sophisticated weapons into Ukraine, alongside waves of economic sanctions targeting Russians.