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

KYIV — Washington is investigating reviews that U.S. army automobiles had been utilized in raids on Russia, a White Home official stated Wednesday, warning Ukraine and pro-Ukraine forces in opposition to utilizing U.S. tools to assault inside Russia.

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

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

“We’ve been fairly darn clear: We don’t help using U.S.-made tools for assaults inside Russia … we’ve been clear about that with the Ukrainians,” Kirby stated. “I received’t get into personal 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 stated the U.S. had not approved nor obtained Ukrainian requests for transferring tools to paramilitary teams. He additionally expressed doubts concerning the Russian reviews and pictures showing to point out U.S.-made automobiles. 

“I don’t know if it’s true or not, by way of the veracity of that imagery,” stated Ryder. “You’ll recall [this week] there have been some bogus pictures of reported, alleged explosions on the Pentagon. So, you recognize, we simply — all of us, each throughout the [defense department] and I’m certain within the … journalistic group, have to try this stuff and ensure we get the information 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, instructed POLITICO that army 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 in addition by our Western allies,” Cherniak stated, including he didn’t know the place the paramilitary teams bought the U.S.-made automobiles. Whereas he insisted the teams acted on their very own, Cherniak stated HUR has been in touch with them and has noticed elevated anti-Putin sentiment amongst Russians.

“Our principal objective is to guard Ukraine. For us, these are Russian residents who’re in opposition to Putin and wish to shake his regime. So we work with whoever we are able to to succeed in our principal objective,” Cherniak stated. “An increasing number of 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 army officers and displayed pictures of two severely broken armored automobiles that look just like these supplied by the U.S. to Ukraine as a part of army assist.

“Throughout counterterrorist operations, items of nationalist formations had been blocked and defeated by air strikes and artillery fireplace and energetic actions. The remnants of the nationalists had been thrown into the territory of Ukraine, the place the struggle continued till they had been utterly eradicated,” Shoigu stated.

The 2 teams themselves, nevertheless, claimed they had been capable of 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 bought U.S.-made automobiles, 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 army retailer — mocking remarks from Vladimir Putin about how Russian-backed militants bought weapons to struggle Ukraine in Donbas in 2014.

Kapustin additionally claimed his group had taken again army automobiles stolen from Ukraine.

“The objective of our peacekeeping operation into Belgorod area was additionally to destroy legislation enforcement serving Putin’s regime and in addition show to the individuals of Russia that resistance is feasible,” the Legion of Free Russia stated Tuesday.

The Russian Volunteer Corps additionally claimed they needed to point out Russians they aren’t protected by Putin. 

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

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