The Russian fighters aligned against Moscow who launched a cross-border raid from Ukraine into the Belgorod region of Russia last week used at least four tactical vehicles originally given to Ukraine by the United States and Poland, U.S. officials said, raising questions about the unintended use of NATO-provided equipment and Kyiv’s commitments to secure materiel supplied by its supporters.
Three of the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, also known as MRAPs, taken into Russia by the fighters were provided by the United States and the fourth was from Poland, according to people familiar with the U.S. intelligence finding, which has not previously been reported. Those people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue.
The fighters also carried rifles made by Belgium and the Czech Republic and at least one AT-4 antitank weapon in common use among U.S. and Western troops, according to photos verified by The Washington Post.
U.S. and Western officials have insisted that Ukraine carefully track the billions of dollars’ worth of weapons that have flowed into the country. Kyiv’s backers have also largely barred Ukrainian forces from using Western weapons and equipment for attacks on Russian soil. Yet the recent raid into Russia underscores how materiel can change hands in unpredictable ways, creating oversight challenges that few in Washington and Kyiv appear willing to acknowledge. At least two MRAPs appear to have been captured by Russian forces after the operation, according to imagery examined by The Post.
The Legion of Free Russia and a second militia called the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) led the raid. The groups are composed of ethnic Russian fighters, including Russian citizens, who oppose Russian President Vladimir Putin and say they are working to “liberate” their homeland. Some members of the groups are known to be Russian neo-Nazis or to harbor other extremist views. [Continue reading…]