US distances itself from Ukrainian cross-border raid
The US State Department said on Monday that Washington does not support Ukraine staging attacks outside its borders. The department’s spokesman, Matthew Miller, was responding after being asked about the raid by a group of saboteurs into Russia’s Belgorod Region.
Miller did not address reports about the militants using American military equipment during the attack, but confirmed that providing Ukraine with more weapons, potentially including F-16 fighter jets, is a priority for the US government and its allies.
“We have made very clear to the Ukrainians that we don’t enable or encourage attacks outside Ukrainians’ borders, but I do think it’s important to take a step back and remind everyone, and remind the world, that it – of course it is Russia that launched this war,” Miller told reporters in the daily briefing.
“So, it is up to Ukraine to decide how they want to conduct their military operations, but it is Russia that has been the aggressor in this war,” he added.
At least eight civilians were wounded in the raid by a group of militants, who crossed the border from Ukraine into Belgorod Region on Monday. Russian security forces have been deployed to eliminate them, according to the regional governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov.
The Kremlin described the attack as a publicity stunt to deflect from the Ukrainian defeat in Artyomovsk, the Donbass city previously known as Bakhmut, over the weekend.
The US and its allies provided at least $100 billion worth of weapons, equipment, and ammunition to the government in Kiev by the end of 2022, according to estimates by the Russian Defense Ministry.
Moscow has repeatedly warned that continuing to “pump” Ukraine with weapons may result in direct confrontation, but Western officials have insisted that giving Ukraine military, financial, and political aid does not make them parties to the conflict.