The Pentagon has denied a sourced report claiming United States intelligence officials helped the Ukrainian armed forces target, or even kill Russian generals in the Russia-Ukraine war.
"The United States provides battlefield intelligence to help Ukraine defend their country," said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on Thursday. "We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield, or participate in targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military."
The report in question, published by The New York Times on Wednesday, chronicled how U.S. intelligence experts were allegedly providing crucial information to Ukraine, anticipating Russian troop movements "gleaned from recent American assessments of Moscow's secret battle plan" for attacking the eastern Ukraine region of Donbas.
The result: Ukrainian officials reported that approximately 12 Russian generals were killed in battle, with the U.S. assisting in "many" of the killings, according to the Times.
Kirby declined to address specifics from the Times report. Instead, he noted that Kyiv (Ukraine's capital city) streamlines intelligence from multiple sources in order to make battlefield decisions.
"Ukraine combines information that we and other partners provide with the intelligence that they themselves are gathering, and then they make their own decisions and they take their own actions," said Kirby.
Also on Thursday, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson reportedly acknowledged the co-opting of battlefield intelligence to Ukraine, but disagreed with the framing of the Times' story.
"The headline of this story is misleading, and the way it is framed is irresponsible," Watson told The Hill. "The United States provides battlefield intelligence to help the Ukrainians defend their country. We do not provide intelligence with the intent to kill Russian generals."
The Biden administration was quick to publicly denounce Russia for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which began Feb. 24. The condemnation included sanctions against Moscow and sending military aid packages to Ukraine.
At the same time, U.S. officials have been largely silent about sophisticated intelligence missions like this, perhaps fearing that Russian President Vladimir Putin might view these moves as an "escalation attempt," which could lead to a broader war, involving other countries.
It's been a fine line to walk, especially with the Russians recently warning the U.S. about sending more arms to Ukraine.
The U.S. has sent approximately $3.7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the Russia war launched.
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