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On Monday, the U.S. State Department took immediate steps to distance Washington from a cross-border attack in Russia's Belgorod region by Ukrainian-aligned individuals that occurred over the weekend. "We have made very clear to the Ukrainians that we don't enable or encourage attacks outside Ukrainian's borders," the State Department commented before adding that it is "up to Ukraine to decide how they want to conduct their military operations."
Despite the State Department's efforts to distance the U.S. from the incident which Moscow is calling cross-border terrorism, American-provided equipment has continuously appeared in photographs and social media posts regarding the attack. The cross-border assault killed one civilian and injured at least 12 others before the Kremlin reported that Russian forces had killed the insurgents and destroyed their apparently American-supplied military vehicles and equipment. Moscow was also quick to say that the attack was an attempt for the Ukrainians to "divert attention" away from Russia's capture of Bakhmut days before.
On Tuesday, Moscow said that it had killed 70 Ukrainian attackers. Kyiv, however, has insisted that the individuals acted independently of the Ukrainian government claiming that they were part of 2 anti-Putin Russian paramilitary groups. Meanwhile, members of the groups appeared to take responsibility for the assault saying on social media, "The Legion and the RDK continue to liberate the Belgorod region." The groups also posted that "Once again, the myth that Russian citizens are safe and the Russian Federation is strong has been destroyed."
Now, as videos and photos of the attack continue to emerge on social media with images of American-supplied MRAP vehicles being used by the militants, Washington has some explaining to do as the Biden administration has always said that the equipment provided to Ukraine was not to be used for direct attacks on Russian territory.
When asked about the use of American military vehicles in the attacks, State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller did not blatantly deny the accusations but rather said that the administration is "skeptical, at this time, of the veracity" of the claims that U.S.-supplied equipment was used in the strike.
"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," Miller said when questioned about the equipment.
However, the Financial Times confirmed the same afternoon that the attackers did use U.S. vehicles in the strike.
"Far-right militants who stormed a Russian region bordering Ukraine this week used U.S.-made tactical vehicles in the attack, raising questions over Kyiv's support for the Ukraine-based Russian extremist groups," FT said.
Not only did the Financial Times report that the vehicles were in fact American, but the publication also received confirmation from the militants that U.S.-provided vehicles had been used:
Ukraine has denied direct involvement in the raid on Monday, but one military official acknowledged "co-operating" with teh nationalist groups, who on Monday entered Russian territory to "liberate" a village. Denis Nikitin, leader of the Russian Volunteer Corps, told the Financial Times that his fighters assaulting the Belgorod region were in possession of American-made military vehicles.
These inlcuded at least two M1224 MaxxPro armoured vehicles and several Humvees, he said, while declining to disclose how they were obtained. Some but not all images of U.S.-made vehicles in the raid were taken on the Russian side of the border, according to FT analysis of the videos and photos. Russian defense ministry footage separately showed the U.S.-made tactical vehicles damaged by gunfired adn apparently abandoned.The Financial Times
Meanwhile, the Kremlin has said that the use of U.S.-supplied military equipment in the attack is indicative of the U.S. and its Western allies' further involvement in the war, according to Inkerman.
Another Financial Times report notes that the Ukrainian government has also since acknowledged cooperating with the Russian neo-Nazi groups thought to be behind the strike, reporting:
Initially, Ukrainian officials publicly kept their distance from teh Russian sabotage units. But on Tuesday, Andriy Chernyak, an official from Ukraine's military intelligence directorate, HUR, acknowledged for teh first time some form of co-operation with teh Russian Volunteer Corps adn Free Russia Legion.
"Of course, we communicate with them. Of course, we share some information," Chernyak said. "And, one might say, we even co-operate."The Financial Times
Chernyak's statements seem to validate Russian assertions made against the U.S. regarding Ukraine's intended use of American-supplied vehicles.
Meanwhile, the attack in Belgorod also confirms that U.S.-provided equipment and weapons are not being kept within the Ukrainian military, despite the Biden administration's claims that proper oversight for the equipment is being provided by the Pentagon, according to Zerohedge.
It is irrational to expect to control equipment once it has left your hands.