Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

US shared intelligence before Ukraine sank Russian warship, says official

Russian navy missile cruiser Moskva on patrol in December 2015 (Russian Defence Ministry Press Service via AP)
Russian navy missile cruiser Moskva on patrol in December 2015 (Russian Defence Ministry Press Service via AP)

The US has said it shared intelligence with Ukraine about the location of the Russian missile cruiser Moskva prior to the strike that sank the warship, an incident that was a high-profile failure for Russia’s military.

But Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement on Friday that the US “did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva”, although he acknowledged that the US and allies routinely share intelligence with Ukraine.

“We were not involved in the Ukrainians’ decision to strike the ship or in the operation they carried out,” he added.

“We had no prior knowledge of Ukraine’s intent to target the ship.”

An American official said on Thursday that Ukraine alone decided to target and sink the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet using its own anti-ship missiles.

But given Russia’s attacks on the Ukrainian coastline from the sea, the US has provided “a range of intelligence” that includes locations of those ships, said the official.

The Biden administration has ramped up intelligence-sharing with Ukraine alongside the shipment of arms and missiles to help it repel Russia’s invasion.

The disclosure of US support in the Moskva strike comes as the White House is under pressure from Republicans to do more to support Ukraine’s resistance and as polls suggest Americans question whether President Joe Biden is being tough enough on Russia.

Speaking to CNN on Friday, Mr Kirby said “the intelligence that we provide to Ukraine is legal. It’s lawful, it’s legitimate, and it’s limited”.

He acknowledged that the US is always concerned about the potential for escalation in the conflict with nuclear-armed Russia.

As its offensive has largely stalled, Russia has issued increasingly menacing warnings to the US and its Nato allies that it may attempt to strike arms shipments that are bolstering Ukraine’s defences.

Russian invasion of Ukraine.
(PA Graphics)

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion in February, the White House has tried to balance supporting Ukraine, a democratic ally, against not doing anything that would seem to provoke a direct war between Mr Putin and the US and Nato allies.

As the war has gone on, the White House has ramped up its military and intelligence support, removing some time and geographic limits on what it will tell Ukraine about potential Russian targets.

The official who spoke on Thursday said the US was not aware that Ukraine planned to strike the Moskva until after it conducted the operation.

NBC News first reported on the American role in the sinking of the ship.

Speaking earlier on Thursday after a New York Times report about the US role in supporting Ukraine’s killing of Russian generals, Mr Kirby said American agencies “do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military”.

“Ukraine combines information that we and other partners provide with the intel that they themselves are gathering and then they make their own decisions and they take their own actions,” he said.