The Biden administration is moving to significantly expand intelligence sharing with Ukraine to aid in its fight against Russian forces, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The report said the Biden administration made a decision late last week to expand intelligence sharing to help Ukraine better identify how Russia plans to attack and enable the Ukrainian forces to respond with artillery, drones, and other weaponry. The change was made by updating the intelligence-sharing guidance for US spy agencies.
“As the conflict evolves, we continue to adjust to ensure that operators have the flexibility to share detailed, timely intelligence with the Ukrainians,” an unnamed intelligent official told the Journal. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed on Wednesday that the intelligence-sharing guidance was updated but wouldn’t elaborate.
US officials said that Washington will still refrain from sharing intelligence with Ukraine that could be used for attacks inside Russian territory. The updated guidance came as Russia is focusing its offensive on Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the US was providing Ukraine with intelligence to help them fight Russia in the Donbas. But according to the Journal, under the previous guidance, the US shared intelligence with Kyiv on Russia’s capabilities in Donbas and Crimea but wouldn’t provide targeting data that would help Ukraine go on the offensive to retake the territories.
Since 2014, Russia has controlled Crimea, and separatists have controlled a sizeable portion of territory in the Donbas. The Journal report suggests that the US had only been providing targeting intelligence in territories that were controlled by the Ukrainian government before the Russian invasion on February 24.
On top of the expanded intelligence sharing, the Biden administration pledged on Wednesday another $800 million military aid package for Ukraine that includes howitzers, marking the first time the US is providing Kyiv with artillery systems. The increased intelligence sharing and arms supply raises questions about at what point Russia would consider Washington a co-belligerent in the war.