The United States provided intelligence that helped Ukrainian forces locate and strike the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet last month, according to US officials.
The targeting help, which contributed to the eventual sinking of the Moskva is part of an ongoing classified effort by the Biden administration to provide real-time battlefield intelligence to Ukraine.
Ukrainian forces, having spotted a Russian warship in the Black Sea, called their American contacts for confirmation that it was in fact the Moskva, sources familiar with the events told CNN. The US reportedly responded that it was, and provided intelligence about its location.
It is not clear whether the US knew Ukraine would move to strike the ship, however, and the US was not involved in that decision, the sources said.
Two senior American officials told the New York Times that Ukraine already had obtained the Moskva’s targeting data on its own, and that the United States provided only confirmation. But other officials said that the American intelligence was crucial to Ukraine’s sinking of the ship.
The ship sank after it was struck by two Ukrainian cruise missiles on 14 April in what was a major blow to the Russian military.
Meanwhile, the US Defense Department has denied that it provided intelligence on the locations of Russian generals on the battlefield so that Ukraine forces could kill them.
Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said it was true that the United States supplies Kyiv’s forces with military intelligence “to help Ukrainians defend their country” but Ukraine makes its own decisions on whether to target a Russian leader or not.
PHOTO – A handout still image taken from a video footage made available 18 February 2022 by the press service of the Russian Defence Ministry shows Russian Navy missile cruiser ‘Moskva’ participating in exercise in the Black Sea off the coast of Crimea. EPA-EFE/RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY