US officials have previously said they are supplying intelligence to Ukraine. But in a sign of how the conflict is shifting, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday that the U.S. was now supplying intelligence to Ukrainian forces battling Russians in the eastern Donbas region


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said for the first time on Thursday that the U.S. is helping Ukrainian troops with intelligence to help them fight Russian forces. 

The Biden administration has been wary of doing anything that could be seen by Moscow as an escalation of the conflict, and that could be used for Russia to broaden the war.

But with Russia shifting its focus away from Kyiv to the eastern Donbas region, Austin revealed on Thursday that the U.S. was helping Ukrainian forces there.   

‘We are providing them intelligence to conduct operations in the Donbas, that’s correct,’ he said in response to questioning by Sen. Tom Cotton during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

He added that new guidance would be sent on Thursday to ensure that U.S. officials were aware of that position. 

His comments reflect the new geography of the war in Ukraine as well as increasing openness among American officials to discuss intelligence and training support.

US officials have previously said they are supplying intelligence to Ukraine. But in a sign of how the conflict is shifting, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday that the U.S. was now supplying intelligence to Ukrainian forces battling Russians in the eastern Donbas region

US officials have previously said they are supplying intelligence to Ukraine. But in a sign of how the conflict is shifting, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday that the U.S. was now supplying intelligence to Ukrainian forces battling Russians in the eastern Donbas region

As Russian forces have pulled back from Kyiv, Moscow has made clear that its focus now in on the Donbas area where it has been fighting for control since 2014

As Russian forces have pulled back from Kyiv, Moscow has made clear that its focus now in on the Donbas area where it has been fighting for control since 2014

Two days earlier, the Pentagon revealed for the first time it had been training a small number of Ukrainians in how to use ‘kamikaze’ Switchblade drones that had been supplied by the U.S. 

He also described the speed at which security assistance – in the form of weapons, ammunition, and other military gear – from the U.S. was arriving in Ukraine.

‘We are flowing resources into Ukraine faster than most people would have ever believed conceivable,’ he said.

‘From the time…  that the authorization is provided, you know, four or five days later we see real capability begin to show up.’

A day earlier, a U.S. defense official said Russian forces had now completely withdrawn from Kyiv – once the main objective of invading troops. 

They have been withdrawn to Russia and Belarus, where they are expected to be resupplied before being deployed to the eastern Donbas region where Ukraine and Russia have been fighting since 2014. 

The withdrawal has exposed multiple allegations of war crimes as Ukrainian forces take over territory held by Russians since the early days of the invasion 

The latest shipments of weapons include a type of drone that can be used to attack tanks. 

On Wednesday Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the Switchblade was not a system familiar to Ukrainian forces.

‘So there is going to need to be a little bit of training,’ he said. 

‘It is not a very complex system that doesn’t require a lot of training. 

‘An individual could be suitably trained on how to use the switchblade drone in about two days or so.’

The administration has already sent 100 series 300 Switchblade drones, which are designed to attack personnel and light vehicles with a warhead carrying the equivalent power to a 40mm grenade.

On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the latest shipment will include the Switchblade-600. 

The 50lb drones can fly 24 miles, ‘loiter’ above a target for 40 minutes before flying into them at 115mph and exploding using special armor-piercing warheads that can destroy a tank. 

Both models have been likened to ‘flying shotguns’ and have been selected for use in Ukraine because of their ease of use and deployment, with the drones able to take off from portable tubes planted on the ground.  

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed that a small number of Ukrainian personnel already in the US were being trained in the use of Switchblade drones

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed that a small number of Ukrainian personnel already in the US were being trained in the use of Switchblade drones

Ukrainian forces have proven adept at stopping Russian armored vehicles with armor-piercing weapons sent by the U.S. and other partner nations. The latest US assessment revealed that Russia has now pulled all its forces back from Kyiv to be reequipped and redeployed

Ukrainian forces have proven adept at stopping Russian armored vehicles with armor-piercing weapons sent by the U.S. and other partner nations. The latest US assessment revealed that Russia has now pulled all its forces back from Kyiv to be reequipped and redeployed

Switchblade 300s were first deployed in secret in Afghanistan in 2010 to fight the Taliban, and were deemed a huge success.

N.A.T.O. nations made clear that they were ready to send more weapons, as the scale of abuses is revealed by withdrawing Russian troops. 

The alliance itself has decided not supply weapons to Ukraine, for fear of being drawn into a wider war with nuclear-armed Russia.

But individual countries have been at the forefront of delivering the weaponry and materiel that has helped halt and reverse Russian momentum. 

‘There was a clear message from the meeting today that allies should do more, and are ready to do more, to provide more equipment, and they realize and recognize the urgency,’ NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said after a meeting of allied foreign ministers in Brussels.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said ‘sickening images’ from places such as Bucha – where photographs showed the bodies of civilians left in the streets – had strengthened the West’s resolve to take action. 

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