Starting Monday, just following the large cross-border raid out of Ukraine on villages in Russia’s Belgorod, the United States began immediately distancing itself, with the State Department saying in a statement, “We have made very clear to the Ukrainians that we don’t enable or encourage attacks outside Ukrainians’ borders…”, while adding that it is “up to Ukraine to decide how they want to conduct their military operations.”
But the ‘sabotage’ attack, which Moscow called cross-border terrorism and which killed one civilian and injured at least twelve, appeared to involve American-supplied equipment, featured in a number of photographs. The gunmen, who wore tactical and military uniforms and drove large armored vehicles, may have held several areas of Russian territory for up to several hours, but by Tuesday the Kremlin announced its forces had wiped out the insurgents and destroyed their military hardware. The Kremlin further said it was a Ukrainian attempt to “divert attention” from Russia’s victory in Bakhmut.
Russia later on Tuesday updated the numbers of attackers it allegedly killed in putting down the strike to 70, while also insisting that they were Ukrainians. Russian forces even deployed air strikes and artillery fire to beat them back. But Kiev has denied involvement, instead pointing to two anti-Putin Russian paramilitary groups. They owned up to the operation, stating through their media channels: “The Legion and the RDK continue to liberate the Belgorod region.” The statement added: “Once again, the myth that Russian citizens are safe and the Russian Federation is strong has been destroyed.”
Now with photographs appearing to show the cross-border attackers’ US armored vehicles, it’s put the Biden administration in an awkward spot, given prior public statements that the equipment Washington gives Kiev is not intended to be used for direct attacks inside Russia.
When asked about the American military hardware used by the attackers during a daily briefing, State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller didn’t flat-out deny the allegations, but merely said the US administration is “skeptical, at this time, of the veracity” of the reports of US-provided weapons used to strike Russia in Belgorod.
“We don’t have perfect clarity of the information, we’re looking at the same fuzzy images [on social media] … at this time we’re skeptical of their veracity,” Milller said.
But the same afternoon as the State Department’s ham handed attempt to feign ignorance and distance itself, the Financial Times confirmed that the militias did indeed use US armored vehicles. …