Russia blamed Western intel and spy planes for Ukraine's devastating attack on its Black Sea Fleet HQ

  • Russia has accused the West of providing intel that enabled a strike on its Black Sea HQ.

  • It says US and UK spy planes handed Ukraine information to help plan the attack.

  • Ukraine said senior officers were killed in the missile attack last week near Sevastopol.

Russia accused Ukraine's allies the US and UK of providing the intelligence that enabled last week's strike on its Black Sea fleet's headquarters.

In a press briefing Wednesday, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the attack was planned using surveillance data from Western intelligence.

"There is no doubt that the attack had been planned in advance using Western intelligence means, NATO satellite assets and reconnaissance planes and was implemented upon the advice of American and British security agencies and in close coordination with them," Zakharova said, reported the AFP.

The claim couldn't be verified — intelligence agencies tend not to discuss information-sharing in such detail.

A rival explanation provided by resistance fighters in Ukraine is that the intelligence leading from the strike came from a more embarrassing source: disaffected Russian officers.

Per a report earlier this week, officers who hadn't been paid by the Russian military sold information to resistance groups in Crimea, enabling Ukraine to target an important meeting and maximize the casualties.

Nonetheless, it is true that the West shares intelligence with Ukraine. NATO countries fly surveillance planes over the international waters of the Black Sea, sometimes resulting in confrontation.

Western intelligence sources have also described giving Ukraine information to help it target strikes against Russia, including in a February report by The Washington Post.

Ukraine claims that 34 Russian officers were killed in the missile strike on the base near Sevastopol in occupied Crimea last Friday. The Kremlin claimed the damage was much milder — one serviceman missing after the attack.

Ukraine also said that among the 34 dead was the admiral of the Black Sea Fleet, Viktor Sokolov. However, that claim was thrown into doubt when Russia footage seeming to show him alive.

Zakharova's comments are not the first time Russia has sought to focus the blame for Ukrainian attacks on the West. Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to portray Western support for Ukraine as part of a covert plot to destroy Russia in an apparent bid to rally domestic support for the war.

Kremlin hawks have repeatedly menaced the West over its support for Ukraine.

Russia's Security Council chief and former president Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday said that the arrival of US Abrams tanks in Ukraine was pushing the West and Russia closer to direct conflict.

"It seems that Russia is being left with less and less choice but direct conflict with NATO," wrote Medvedev on Telegram,Newsweek said. 

The steady supply of Western weapons and money to Ukraine has so far not resulted in Russian retaliation against a NATO member.

Read the original article on Business Insider