The United States and its allies run a secret cell of commandos and spies, coordinating the flow of weapons and intelligence to shore up the Ukrainian army against Russia, The New York Times reports.
The cell as a network of foreign commandos and CIA operatives that has been put together by the US, Canada, the UK, France, and Lithuania, according to the report, which is based on remarks made by “current and former officials,”
The cell’s members are based partly in Ukraine and partly elsewhere, such as in the UK, Germany, and France.
They provide the Ukrainian army with intelligence and training, and also help channel state-of-the-art Western arms to the ex-Soviet republic.
The revelations contradict earlier claims by Washington that it has no troops deployed inside Ukraine.
Ukraine has been the subject of a Russian special operation since February 24. Russia says the operation is aimed at “demilitarizing” the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas.
Back in 2014, the regions of Donetsk and its neighbor Luhansk—which together form the Donbas—declared themselves independent republics, refusing to recognize Ukraine’s Western-backed government. The declaration of independence was ensued by a conflict between the region’s pro-Russian forces and the Ukrainian military.
From 2015 to early this year, American Special Forces and National Guard instructors trained more than 27,000 Ukrainian soldiers at a training center in western Ukraine, Pentagon officials said.
The Western allies, The Times said, have provided the Ukrainian military’s commanders with tablet computers that receive the intelligence gleaned from satellite imagery and snapped by the US. The tablets also “run a battlefield mapping app that the Ukrainians use to target and attack Russian troops.”
The cell, which was modeled after a structure used in Afghanistan, has by now “grown to 20 nations,” the paper wrote, adding that the network “is part of a broader set of operational and intelligence coordination cells run by the Pentagon’s European Command to speed allied assistance to Ukrainian troops.”
Also on Sunday, the Russian foreign ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the West was doing its utmost to continue the conflict in Ukraine as long as possible, and was also reluctant to answer Russia’s questions about its mercenaries there, Russia’s ITAR-TASS news agency reported.