The White House official said the United States was investigating reports that US weapons supplied to Ukraine were used in the attack on Belgorod province.
Russian news agency RIA Novosti released a video on May 23 of a number of US-made armored vehicles destroyed or seized after an operation to repel a pro-Ukrainian militia group that attacked in the Graivoron district of Belgorod province.
These images show at least two M1224 MaxxPro mine-resistant vehicles, three American Humvee armored personnel carriers, and cargo vehicles used by the militia group to invade Russian territory, before being repulsed.
“The White House is investigating information about US weapons and vehicles that may have been deployed in an attack on Russian territory,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on May 24.
Kirby said Washington does not support the use of US-made weapons to attack Russian soil. “We have clearly expressed our position with the Ukrainian side. I will not divulge the private discussions between the two sides, but it must be confirmed that the US has consistently expressed concern over this issue,” he said.
The MaxxPro mine resistant vehicle was seized by Russian forces in Belgorod province in the photo published on May 24. Photo: Twitter/clashreport
Two pro-Ukrainian armed militia groups, including Russian Volunteer Army (RVC) and Russian Freedom Corps (FRL), on 22 May used many armored vehicles to cross the border, ambush checkpoints and many other facilities. Belgorod, killing a Russian border guard and wounding 12 others.
This force was stopped by the Russian military in a full-scale “anti-terrorist” operation. Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed to have killed 70 “Ukrainian terrorists”, destroying many of the armed group’s armored vehicles and pickup trucks.
During a press conference held in the forest in northern Ukraine on May 24, Caesar, commander of the FRL, confirmed that during the border attack, members of the group were driving armored vehicles made in the United States. However, Caesar said that the FRL purchased the armor on its own from an undisclosed source, not the Ukrainian military.
Ukrainian officials insist the country was not involved in the attack on Belgorod province, claiming it was Russian citizens who acted on their own initiative. General Defense Intelligence Department of Ukraine spokesman Andriy Chernyak on 24 May acknowledged that Kiev cooperated with the RVC and FRL, but denied that Ukraine had transferred military equipment to these groups.
Armed group suspected of using US tanks to attack Russian territory
American-made armor is destroyed at a border checkpoint in the Russian province of Belgorod in a video released on May 23. Video: Ria Novosti
US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Ukraine had the right to decide on its own methods of warfare, but stressed that the US was opposed to an attack on Russian territory. “We made it clear to the Kiev side that Washington does not support or encourage them to launch an offensive operation beyond Ukraine’s borders,” he said.
Vu Anh (according to Politico)