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Official says US provided location intel that Ukraine used to sink Russian warship

US source stresses that Ukraine alone decided to target and sink flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet using its own anti-ship missiles

The Russian missile cruiser Moskva is purportedly seen in photos depicting it after being hit by Ukrainian missiles, prior to sinking, April 14, 2022. (Social media)
The Russian missile cruiser Moskva is purportedly seen in photos depicting it after being hit by Ukrainian missiles, prior to sinking, April 14, 2022. (Social media)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The US says it shared intelligence with Ukraine about the location of the Russian missile cruiser Moskva prior to the strike that sank the warship, an incident that was a high-profile failure for Russia’s military.

An American official said Thursday that Ukraine alone decided to target and sink the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet using its own anti-ship missiles. But given Russia’s attacks on the Ukrainian coastline from the sea, the US has provided “a range of intelligence” that includes locations of those ships, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Biden administration has ramped up intelligence sharing with Ukraine alongside the shipment of arms and missiles to help it repel Russia’s invasion. The disclosure of US support in the Moskva strike comes as the White House is under pressure from Republicans to do more to support Ukraine’s resistance and as polls suggest Americans question whether President Joe Biden is being tough enough on Russia.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion in February, the White House has tried to balance supporting Ukraine, a democratic ally, against not doing anything that would seem to provoke a direct war between Putin and the US and NATO allies. As the war has gone on, the White House has ramped up its military and intelligence support, removing some time and geographic limits on what it will tell Ukraine about potential Russian targets.

The official who spoke Thursday said the US was not aware that Ukraine planned to strike the Moskva until after they conducted the operation. NBC News first reported on the American role in the sinking of the ship.

Speaking earlier Thursday after a New York Times report about the US role in supporting Ukraine’s killing of Russian generals, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said American agencies “do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military.”

Russian Navy Captain Alexander Shvarts stands in front of an artillery system on the Russian missile cruiser Moskva as it patrols in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Syria, on December 17, 2015. (Max Delany/AFP)

“Ukraine combines information that we and other partners provide with the intel that they themselves are gathering and then they make their own decisions and they take their own actions,” Kirby said.

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