A report from the Washington Post states that "Ukrainian officials say that they almost never launch HIMARS rounds without detailed coordinates provided by U.S. military personnel situated elsewhere in Europe."
Those coordinates are either "provided or confirmed" by the US and its NATO allies before Ukraine launches their strikes against Russia, which invaded Ukraine nearly one year ago. That the US was giving over not only the HIMARS but the means by which targets would be ascertained by the Ukraine military was not previously disclosed by the Pentagon.
What this means is that the Pentagon is not only providing weapons and aid, but is actively engaged in making war on Russia. This is not something the Biden administration has been forthcoming about.
The Pentagon issued a statement from Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, reading "We have long acknowledged that we share intelligence with Ukraine to assist them in defending their country against Russian aggression, and we have optimized over time how we share information to be able to support their requests and their targeting processes at improved speed and scale. The Ukrainians are responsible for finding targets, prioritizing them and then ultimately deciding which ones to engage. The U.S. does not approve targets, nor are we involved in the selection or engagement of targets."
Biden has insisted that the US is merely helping Ukraine have the tools to wage war, but actively assisting Ukraine in assessing targets and then attacking those targets is not something that, to the knowledge of the American public, has been approved by Congress.
A US official who spoke to WaPo under the condition of anonymity said that the US providing "targeting assistance" increased the ability of Ukraine to launch missiles with accuracy, thereby not wasting their limited amunition. Ukraine uses their own targeting methods for attacks with their own weapons, but when it comes to HIMARS, the "U.S. provides coordinates and precise targeting information solely in an advisory role."
As to how that process works, it was reported that it goes like this: "Ukrainian military personnel identify targets they want to hit, and in which location, and that information is then sent up to senior commanders, who then relay the request to U.S. partners for more accurate coordinates. The Americans do not always provide the requested coordinates, the official said, in which case the Ukrainian troops do not fire. A third Ukrainian official cited by WaPo "confirmed that targeting all goes through an American installation on NATO soil and described the process as 'very fast.'"
Another US official said that the reports that the US provides targets is "not true," WaPo reports, saying that "Ukrainians run targets by us for approval." Ukrainian officials said that if those targets are not approved, a strike is not launched.
WaPo reports that this information was "confirmed by three senior Ukrainian officials and a senior U.S. official." It comes as Ukraine has ramped up its attacks on Russia, and has been gifted Abrams tanks from the US, as well as Leopard tanks from Germany. Those targets against which Ukraine has launched attacks, with NATO-supplied coordinates, include "headquarters, ammunition depots and barracks."
From Ukraine's perspective, the fact that the US and NATO are providing the targets to the Ukrainian military for the purposes of waging war "should give Washington confidence about providing Kyiv with longer-range weapons," essentially because the targeting procedures will be supplied by US and NATO. Ukraine has repeatedly demanded longer-range precision weapons from the US and NATO.
The US hasn't wanted to give them, and has had concerns that Ukraine would use those weapons to strike targets well across the border into Russia. Ukraine promised that they wouldn't do that, and has said that since the US and NATO essentially control the targeting by approving or adjusting selected coordinates, the US has nothing to worry about.
Putin has accused the US of fighting a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.
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