The Pentagon on Friday denied that it provided Ukrainian forces with intelligence that led to the sinking of the Russian Black Sea warship Moskva, which was struck reportedly by Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles on April 14 and marked the most disastrous single Russian loss to date.
"We did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement, following the night prior NBC cited US officials who said that intelligence-sharing led to the missile cruiser's sinking.
He added: "We were not involved in the Ukrainians' decision to strike the ship or in the operation they carried out," and that, "We had no prior knowledge of Ukraine's intent to target the ship. The Ukrainians have their own intelligence capabilities to track and target Russian naval vessels, as they did in this case."
He was responding to questions generated by a number of major reports in The New York Times and NBC News over the last couple days. These have included anonymous senior US officials telling the press that robust US intelligence sharing efforts with the Ukrainians have led to significant battlefield losses for the Russians.
First, a Wednesday NYT report claimed that intelligence sharing with the Ukrainians had helped take out some of the estimated 12 Russian generals that have died on the front lines since the Feb.24 invasion.
The New York Times reported that "The United States has focused on providing the location and other details about the Russian military’s mobile headquarters, which relocate frequently." Additionally, "Ukrainian officials have combined that geographic information with their own intelligence — including intercepted communications that alert the Ukrainian military to the presence of senior Russian officers — to conduct artillery strikes and other attacks that have killed Russian officers."
Following this, on Thursday night an even more significant bombshell was issued by NBC, wherein defense or intelligence officials were quoted as saying the operation which led to the sinking of the Russian Black Sea flagship Moskva had assistance from US intelligence.
“Ukrainian forces asked the Americans about a ship sailing in the Black Sea south of Odesa, U.S. officials told NBC News. The U.S. identified it as the Moskva, officials said, and helped confirm its location, after which the Ukrainians targeted the ship.”https://t.co/szSuq85NAb— Rob Lee (@RALee85) May 6, 2022
"The attack happened after Ukrainian forces asked the Americans about a ship sailing in the Black Sea south of Odesa, U.S. officials told NBC News," the report indicated. "The U.S. identified it as the Moskva, officials said, and helped confirm its location, after which the Ukrainians targeted the ship."
Either Kirby is parsing his words very carefully in a 'plausible deniability' type way (for example: hinging on precise definition of "specific targeting information" etc), or it could be that it wasn't US military intelligence per se that was involved... as in the Central Intelligence Agency was possibly behind it, making it not under the purview of the Department of Defense/Pentagon.