US trained Ukrainian troops to sink Russian ships, official claims — Analysis

Pentagon quickly clarified that training wasn’t provided in the United States

An American military source claimed that Washington trained the Ukrainian warships sinking crews. It appears the claim was made by a top official. The Pentagon has denied this assertion.

On Wednesday, Defense News hosted an event where Bill LaPlante, Defense Undersecretary, Acquisition and Sustainment, spoke out about American support to Kiev during its conflict with Russia. He also discussed alleged operations involving Harpoon antiship missiles in June.

“We got [the missiles] off the ship, put them on some flatbed trucks, put the Harpoons, the modules, on the flatbed truck,”After describing the arms transfers, he claimed that the Pentagon had been destroyed. “brought the Ukrainians to train on it over Memorial Day weekend – in our country, over Memorial Day weekend – and the next week two Russian ships were sunk with those Harpoons.” 

Although the official didn’t specify which Russian vessels were in question, the Pentagon had previously stated that a supply vessel was sinking using Harpoons. Moscow hasn’t confirmed the attack.

Russia claims it destroyed US-made Harpoon launchers in Ukraine

However, while LaPlante appeared to say Ukrainian soldiers were brought to the United States for training on the Harpoons – a decision Washington had not previously made public – a Pentagon spokesperson later told Defense One the training occurred elsewhere. 

Instead, LaPlante “meant that the weekend the Ukrainians received training is called Memorial Day in the United States,”According to the spokesperson.

Another unnamed military official reached by the outlet noted that the training was overseen  jointly by US forces and foreign partners, but said the instruction itself was carried out by a “vendor.”The location and the training of the Ukrainian Harpoon operators, who are manufactured by Boeing, is not known.

After receiving a transfer form Denmark in June 2016, Ukraine began using the US-made antiship weapon. Washington pledged to Kiev two vehicles-mounted variants of the system later as part of an $1 billion aid package. 

Prior to the shipment, a top Ukrainian advisor declared that the Pentagon had been shipped. “preparing a plan for the destruction” of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which included “deliveries of powerful anti-ship weapons”Including the Harpoon. Officials in the USA denied this charge “definitively,” though Washington has acknowledged training Ukrainian forces previously and frequently touts the billions in ‘lethal aid’ provided to the government in Kiev.

US plans to help ‘destroy’ Russian fleet – Ukrainian official

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