White House has been ‘very clear’ with Kyiv over use of US-supplied weapons, John Kirby says
Washington has once again dismissed visual evidence of US-supplied equipment used in this week’s attack by Ukrainian militants in Russia’s Belgorod region as unconfirmed. “reports” which require further investigation. President Joe Biden’s administration, however, has apparently acknowledged that it fears kyiv has broken its supposed promise not to use US weapons outside its territory.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby showed some “frustration” about the attack during a press briefing on Wednesday, US outlet Politico reported. He noted that the administration is “search in” reports that the equipment provided by the United States “could have been involved” in a deadly raid in the Belgorod district of Grayvoron.
“We have been very clear that we do not support the use of US-made equipment for attacks inside Russia.” Kirby told reporters. “We have been clear about this with the Ukrainians. I won’t go into the private discussions we have with them, but I think we’ve only been consistent in our concerns in this regard.
Kirby’s comments came a day after US State Department and Pentagon officials tried to cast doubt on photos and video footage that clearly showed the militants were using US equipment, including armored fighting vehicles. Humvees and MaxxPro MRAPs. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller called the evidence “blurry pictures” and told reporters that the US administration is “skeptical of their veracity.”
The high-quality footage, including footage released by the Russian Defense Ministry, showed several damaged and abandoned US vehicles. The military said dozens of saboteurs were killed in a counterterrorism operation, while some were pushed back into Ukrainian territory.
Kyiv tried to disavow the raid, saying it was carried out by the so-called “Russian Freedom Legion” and neo-Nazi “Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK)” units. The Kremlin replied that it was a distinction without difference, because the militants fought in the Ukrainian army using equipment provided by the West. The Pentagon also said the United States has not approved any transfers of equipment to paramilitary organizations outside the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Biden has attempted to wage an international sanctions campaign against Russia and provide billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine without starting a direct war with Russia. Publicly, U.S. officials have consistently asserted that ground rules barring the use of U.S.-made equipment outside Ukrainian territory were part of that effort, seeking to steer Washington away from any incursion on Russian soil.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told a press conference on Saturday, Washington is “will proceed in a way that avoids World War III – that precept has remained intact.”
However, Russian officials see the United States as a direct party to the Ukrainian conflict, as it supplies increasingly advanced weapons to kyiv. Earlier this month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Washington of facilitating Kiev terror attacks in Russia, including a drone strike in Moscow believed to be a failed Ukrainian attempt to assassinate the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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