Pentagon press secretary John Kirby late Thursday denied that the U.S. gave the Ukrainian military “specific targeting information” that allowed them to sink the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva, in April.
“We did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva. We were not involved in the Ukrainians’ decision to strike the ship or in the operation they carried out,” Kirby said in a statement.
“We had no prior knowledge of Ukraine’s intent to target the ship. The Ukrainians have their own intelligence capabilities to track and target Russian naval vessels, as they did in this case.”
The comment from Kirby came after officials told NBC News and The New York Times that intelligence given from the U.S. to Ukraine helped sink the ship.
The outlets reported, however, that the officials said the U.S. was not aware Ukraine’s military would attack the Moskva and was not consulted before the decision occurred.
In a press briefing Thursday, Kirby said Ukraine uses a range of intelligence to make decisions on the battlefield.
“Ukraine combines information that we and other partners provide with the intelligence that they themselves are gathering on the battlefield, and then they make their own decisions and they take their own actions,” he said.
“We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military. The Ukrainians have, quite frankly, a lot more information than we do. This is their country, their territory, and they have capable intelligence collection abilities of their own.”
The sinking of the Moskva was seen as a major victory for Ukraine after many believed the Ukrainian forces would not survive for more than a few days after Russia’s invasion.