US investigates claims American gear utilized in raids on Russia – POLITICO

KYIV — Washington is investigating studies that U.S. navy autos have been utilized in raids on Russia, a White Home official mentioned Wednesday, warning Ukraine and pro-Ukraine forces towards utilizing U.S. tools to assault inside Russia.

Two pro-Ukraine Russian paramilitary teams claimed accountability for an incursion Monday into Russia’s Belgorod area from Ukraine, during which they overran a number of small villages. Moscow mentioned Wednesday it had defeated the teams, killing greater than 70 individuals and destroying U.S.-made navy autos.

U.S. Nationwide Safety Council spokesperson John Kirby mentioned Wednesday the White Home is “wanting into these studies that the U.S. tools and autos might have been concerned,” hinting at frustration in Washington.

“We’ve been fairly darn clear: We don’t assist using U.S.-made tools for assaults inside Russia … we’ve been clear about that with the Ukrainians,” Kirby mentioned. “I received’t get into non-public discussions that we’re having with them. However I believe we’ve been nothing however constant about our issues in that regard.”

Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder on Tuesday mentioned the U.S. had not approved nor acquired Ukrainian requests for transferring tools to paramilitary teams. He additionally expressed doubts concerning the Russian studies and pictures showing to indicate U.S.-made autos. 

“I don’t know if it’s true or not, by way of the veracity of that imagery,” mentioned Ryder. “You’ll recall [this week] there have been some bogus pictures of reported, alleged explosions on the Pentagon. So, , we simply — all of us, each inside the [defense department] and I’m positive within the … journalistic group, have to try these items and ensure we get the info earlier than we make assumptions.”

Ukraine has denied involvement within the assault, saying the 2 teams — Legion of Free Russia and Russian Volunteer Corps — consist solely of Russian residents who’re combating on Kyiv’s facet, aiming to create a demilitarized zone on the border with Ukraine.

Andriy Cherniak, a consultant of Ukraine’s Navy Intelligence or HUR, advised POLITICO that navy assist supplied by the U.S. and different Western allies is strictly restricted to be used by the Ukrainian military.

“Each bullet is tracked not solely by us but additionally by our Western allies,” Cherniak mentioned, including he didn’t know the place the paramilitary teams received the U.S.-made autos. Whereas he insisted the teams acted on their very own, Cherniak mentioned HUR has been in touch with them and has noticed elevated anti-Putin sentiment amongst Russians.

“Our principal aim is to guard Ukraine. For us, these are Russian residents who’re towards Putin and wish to shake his regime. So we work with whoever we are able to to achieve our principal aim,” Cherniak mentioned. “Increasingly in Russia perceive they don’t wish to die for [Putin] at battle.”

Russian Protection Minister Sergei Shoigu described the teams as Ukrainian “nationalists” throughout a televised assembly with Russian navy officers and displayed pictures of two severely broken armored autos that look much like these supplied by the U.S. to Ukraine as a part of navy assist.

“Throughout counterterrorist operations, models of nationalist formations have been blocked and defeated by air strikes and artillery fireplace and energetic actions. The remnants of the nationalists have been thrown into the territory of Ukraine, the place the battle continued till they have been fully eradicated,” Shoigu mentioned.

The 2 teams themselves, nonetheless, claimed they have been in a position to return to Ukraine with solely two killed and 10 injured from the Legion of Free Russia, in addition to two injured from the Russian Volunteer Corps.

When requested about how they received U.S.-made autos, Russian Volunteer Corps’ Denis Kapustin, aka “White Rex” (the identical identify as his white nationalist clothes line), joked that his fighters might have bought them at any navy retailer — mocking remarks from Vladimir Putin about how Russian-backed militants received weapons to battle Ukraine in Donbas in 2014.

Kapustin additionally claimed his group had taken again navy autos stolen from Ukraine.

“The aim of our peacekeeping operation into Belgorod area was additionally to destroy legislation enforcement serving Putin’s regime and likewise reveal to the individuals of Russia that resistance is feasible,” the Legion of Free Russia mentioned Tuesday.

The Russian Volunteer Corps additionally claimed they wished to indicate Russians they don’t seem to be protected by Putin. 

Alexander Ward reported from and Lara Seligman contributed reporting from Washington.

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