Did anti-Putin militias use American military equipment in their attacks on Belgorod in Russia? The U.S. is distancing itself from this.
Washington/Frankfurt - Fierce fighting has been taking place in the Russian border region of Belgorod since Monday (22 May). Two Russian anti-Putin militias had claimed responsibility for the attacks and called their mission a "success". Moscow accused Kiev of planning the raid to distract from the alleged defeat in eastern Ukraine's Bakhmut. Ukraine denies any responsibility. The U.S. has now also commented on attacks on Russian soil.
Belgorod attacks with American equipment? - U.S. responds
As reported by CNN and the Kyiv Independent, among others, American equipment, such as military vehicles, was apparently used in the attacks in the Russian region. The U.S. on Tuesday denied the transfer of military equipment to paramilitary organizations outside the Ukrainian armed forces. As CNN reported, Defense Department press secretary Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said the U.S. was closely monitoring the issue.
Fighters of the volunteer corps of Russian citizens not far from the Russian-Ukrainian border in the Sumy region. © Evgeniy Maloletka/dpa
On Thursday, John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council, told CNN. According to the report, US President Joe Biden's administration has reiterated in talks with Ukraine that it does not support attacks on Russian soil. "We have once again made it very clear to the Ukrainians what we expect from an attack on Russia – we don't want to encourage or enable that, we definitely don't want U.S.-made equipment to be used to attack Russian soil," Kirby said.
After Belgorod attacks: US sends clear words to Ukraine
Ukraine has assured that it respects this, CNN quoted Kirby as saying. "We have made it very clear that we want Ukraine to be able to defend its own soil, its own territory." However, the government has also stressed that it does not want the Ukraine war to escalate beyond the devastation and violence that has already been inflicted on the Ukrainian people. True, Kirby did not make a direct reference to the attacks of the anti-militia groups on Belgorod. However, the talks between Ukraine and the US have taken place recently, Kirby said.
Last but not least, the anti-militia groups revealed during an appearance in front of journalists that their equipment comes at least partly from the inventory of the Ukrainian armed forces. However, it fell into their hands via detours. The fact that they also got hold of military equipment from the USA does not seem unlikely.
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In Russia, however, resentment against the Kremlin's actions is growing against the backdrop of the Belgorod attacks. The governor of the region contradicted the Russian Ministry of Defense. (Michelle Brey)