The U.S. has been feeding the Ukrainian military with real-time intelligence on Putin’s war plan, which allowed Ukraine to shoot down a Russian transport plane carrying hundreds of troops in the early days of the invasion.
Ukraine’s successful attack on the Russian IL-76 transport plane near the Kyiv airport in February was conducted after receiving info from the U.S. in an unprecedented intelligence-sharing operation with a non-NATO partner, former and current U.S. officials told NBC.
Two such planes were brought down around the same time. Details on which of the two aircraft were shot down thanks to US intelligence have not been shared. Russia hasn’t disclosed how many troops died, but the planes can each carry up to 150 troops.
Although Russians eventually took the airport, Ukraine’s campaign in the skies with U.S. intelligence impaired Russia’s operations in the region and has helped Ukraine fight back its invaders, the officials, speaking under the condition of anonymity, added.
‘From the get-go, we leaned pretty heavily forward in sharing both strategic and actionable intelligence with Ukraine,’ one U.S. official briefed on the matter told NBC. ‘It’s been impactful both at a tactical and strategic level.
‘There are examples where you could tell a pretty clear story that this made a major difference.’
The U.S. intelligence has been attributed to the successful takedown of a Russian IL-76 aircraft carrying hundreds of soldiers to the Kyiv airport at the start of the war (file photo)
Ukrainians have been targeting Russian forces with the help of U.S. intelligence since the war began in February. Pictured, a Ukrainian serviceman firing a rocket on February 15
The U.S. has provided Ukraine with $3.2 billion in aid, including anti-aircraft weaponry
The intelligence provided by the U.S. has allowed Ukrainian forces to know where to strike, what Russian units are active and which are decoys, and where the invading forces plan to bomb.
One U.S. official told NBC that the secret operations have saved Ukrainian soldiers and equipment while causing Russia to waste time and ammunition.
‘The Russian military has literally been cratering empty fields where air defenses were once set up,’ the official said after Ukrainian forces were moved following a U.S. tip. ‘It has had an enormous impact on the Russian military’s ability on the ground.’
Since the war began, Russia has lost a total of 873 tanks, 2,238 armored vehicles, 179 planes, 154 helicopters and 408 artillery systems, according to data published by the Ukrainian Land Forces this week.
The organization estimated that about 21,000 Russian fighters have been killed in the war, with US and UK estimates at 15,000.
In total, 317 officers of junior lieutenant rank and above have been killed in a little over two months of fighting, Russian outlet MediaZona published this week.
Almost a third came from the most senior grades – major or above – including at least two generals and the deputy commander of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
The White House National Security Council said in a statement: ‘We are regularly providing detailed, timely intelligence to the Ukrainians on the battlefield to help them defend their country against Russian aggression and will continue to do so.’
The CIA has also been providing information on how Ukrainian forces can best protect and transport its leaders, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is a prime target for Russian invaders, NBC reported.
Since the war began, Russia has lost a total of 873 tanks, 2,238 armored vehicles, 179 planes, 154 helicopters and 408 artillery systems due to Ukraine’s assault
U.S. Intelligence has allowed the Ukraine to predict where Russian forces are planning to attack as well as where the opposition is based
The U.S. officials said the CIA has been active in Ukraine since Russia seized Crimea in 2014, helping the Eastern European country oust Russian spies.
‘There has been a very robust relationship between U.S. intel agencies and the Ukrainians for the last eight years,’ one official told NBC, noting that it was this bond that allowed the U.S. to readily share its information with Ukraine when Russia began its invasion.
The U.S. is likely to provide even greater forms of intelligence to help Ukraine fight back after Avril Haines, director of National Intelligence, withdrew orders earlier this month that prohibited intelligence sharing for the purposes of regaining captured territory or adding Ukrainian strikes in Crimea or Donbas, NBC reported.
Washington has also stepped up its support to Ukrainian armed forces earlier this month with an $800 million package that for the first time included 155 mm howitzer long-range artillery, as well as armored vehicles, and coastal defense drones.
The new package takes the total aid provided to Ukraine to $3.2 billion since the invasion began at the end of February, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
Germany announced on Tuesday that it would also be joining the aid effort after initially refusing to help arm Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion.
The European ally is expected to deliver around 50 Gepard anti-aircraft vehicles.