US Says Giving Ukraine Intelligence on Donbas

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said publicly for the first time that the country is providing intelligence to Ukrainian forces to carry out operations in the Donbas region.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Austin was asked if the United States provided intelligence to help Ukraine carry out attacks against Russian forces in the occupied Donbas region and Crimea.

“We are providing them with…intelligence to carry out these types of operations…in Donbas. That’s correct,” Austin said in response to Sen. Tom Cotton’s question. Austin did not mention Crimea in his response. He also claimed that the United States is not deterring Ukraine from launching attacks against Russian forces in these areas.

Why is this important? It is the first time a US official has publicly acknowledged the US role in Ukraine’s operations in the disputed region, as the fighting moves away from the capital Kyiv and towards southeastern Ukraine.

“We continue to provide useful information and intelligence to the Ukrainian Armed Forces in their fight,” a senior defense official told CNN Thursday after Austin’s comments. “As that fighting moves further into the Donbas region, we will adjust our content and information flow as needed.”

Austin later said at the hearing that the Pentagon would send “updated guidance” but did not say explicitly what the guidance would entail.

Cotton asked if the current guidance is not to provide such intelligence to Ukraine.

“Certainly the current guidance was not clear on that, so we’ll make sure it’s clear,” Austin replied.

Earlier this month, the White House acknowledged that the United States sent “a significant amount of detailed and timely intelligence” to Ukraine regarding Russia’s plans and movements.

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