U.S. provided intelligence that helped Ukraine sink Russian Black Sea warship

The United States provided intelligence that helped Ukraine attack and sink the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, in one of the most dramatic battlefield successes of the 71-day old war, according to an NBC News report.

The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet sank on April 14 after being struck by two Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles, in what was an extraordinary embarrassment for the Kremlin that deprived the invading forces of a key vessel in their military campaign.

Now it is being said that this naval victory may not have been possible without American assistance, underscoring how deeply Washington has become enmeshed in Ukraine’s fight against Russia.

It is unclear how many Russian sailors died in the attack, but U.S. officials believe there were significant casualties aboard the guided-missile cruiser that was carrying a crew of 510.

Despite providing intelligence on the Moskva, the United States had “no prior awareness” of Ukraine’s decision to strike the warship, said a U.S. official.

Smoke billows from the damaged Russian ship Moskva on April 15, 2022

The official noted that the U.S. government shares maritime awareness with Ukraine to help the nation defend against threats. Russian vessels in the Black Sea have been launching missiles at Ukraine — and could be used to support an amphibious assault on the country, the official said.

Military analysts and experts have praised the Ukrainian military’s strength and ingenuity as it repels a larger Russian force that many believed was more sophisticated and technically superior. But the U.S. intelligence has also given the Ukrainian forces a significant advantage, allowing them to locate Russian forces, equipment, and command and control centers.

Absent the intelligence from the United States, Ukraine would have struggled to target the warship with the confidence necessary to expend two valuable Neptune missiles, which were in short supply, according to the people familiar with the strike, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.

Since before the war began, the Biden administration has treated the issue of intelligence-sharing with Ukraine as extremely sensitive.

American officials have expressed concern U.S. intelligence sharing with Ukraine could anger Putin and provoke an unpredictable response.

US officials have insisted they only provide assistance that helps Ukraine defend itself, worried that Russia could view the provision of information used in attacks as a justification for retaliating directly against the United States and its allies.

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