Defense

American intel played a role in sinking of Russian warship: reports

FILE – The Russian missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is seen anchored in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, on Sept. 11, 2008. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the ship was damaged Wednesday, April 13, 2022, but not that it was hit by Ukraine. The Ministry says ammunition on board detonated as a result of a fire whose causes “were being established,” and the Moskva’s entire crew was evacuated.(AP Photo, File)

American intelligence played a role in Ukraine targeting and ultimately sinking the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, according to multiple news reports, an indication of how U.S. assistance has made tangible impacts amid Russia’s ongoing invasion in Ukraine.

U.S. officials that spoke with NBC News, which was the first to report about the development, and The New York Times indicated that the United States helped confirm Ukrainian targeting data for the ship. 

Officials that spoke to NBC News said that the decision to attack the Moskva did not involve the U.S. and that it was not aware ahead of time that Ukraine would target the Russian warship.

The Moskva sank last month after it was hit by two Neptune missiles fired by Ukrainian forces, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials, causing it to explode and catch fire. The loss of the ship was considered a major blow to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

The move was also considered a symbolic success and full circle moment for Ukrainians, as the ship earlier on in the invasion had told Ukrainian soldiers on Snake Island to surrender. In response, the soldiers told Russia’s military to “f— itself.”

During a Pentagon press briefing on Thursday, press secretary John Kirby said that the United States provided “battlefield intelligence to help Ukrainians defend their country.”

“We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military. The Ukrainians have, quite frankly, a lot more information than we do. This is their country, their territory, and they have capable intelligence collection abilities of their own,” he said.

“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.”

The Hill has reached out to the National Security Council for comment. 

Jordan Williams contributed.

Tags Black Sea Fleet Moskva Russia-Ukraine conflict Ukraine

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