Two pro-Ukraine Russian paramilitary groups claimed responsibility for an incursion Monday into Russia’s Belgorod region from Ukraine, in which they overran several small villages. Moscow said Wednesday it had defeated the groups, killing more than 70 people and destroying U.S.-made military vehicles.
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Wednesday the White House is “looking into those reports that the U.S. equipment and vehicles could have been involved,” hinting at frustration in Washington
Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder on Tuesday said the U.S. had not authorized nor received Ukrainian requests for transferring equipment to paramilitary groups. He also expressed doubts about the Russian reports and images appearing to show U.S.-made vehicles.
“I don’t know if it’s true or not, in terms of the veracity of that imagery,” said Ryder. “You’ll recall [this week] there were some bogus images of reported, alleged explosions at the Pentagon. So, you know, we just — all of us, both within the [defense department] and I’m sure in the … journalistic community, have to take a look at these things and make sure we get the facts before we make assumptions.”
Ukraine has denied involvement in the attack, saying the two groups — Legion of Free Russia and Russian Volunteer Corps — consist only of Russian citizens who are fighting on Kyiv’s side, aiming to create a demilitarized zone on the border with Ukraine.
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