US military trained Ukrainians days before they sank two Russian ships,

Connor Echols, reporter for Responsible Statecraft

U.S.-trained Ukrainian soldiers sank two Russian ships in June, according to Bill LaPlante, the Pentagon’s top acquisitions official. The incident came just two months after Washington gave Ukraine intelligence that helped it sink the Moskva, then Russia’s most powerful warship in the Black Sea.

Washington trained the combatants on how to use Harpoon anti-ship missiles over Memorial Day weekend earlier this year. “The next week, two Russian ships were sunk,” LaPlante said during an interview with Defense News.

The revelation emerged less than a week after news broke that Washington conducted war games with Kyiv in order to plan for its counter-offensive in Kherson, highlighting the close operational ties between the U.S. and Ukrainian militaries. The news adds to concerns that the United States is engaged in a full-scale proxy war with Russia, as Kelley Vlahos recently argued in Responsible Statecraft.

“As usual it appears that the administration wants to have it both ways: assure the American people that it is being ‘restrained’ and that we are not ‘at war’ with the Russians, but doing everything but planting a U.S. soldier and a flag inside Ukraine,” Vlahos wrote. […]

“Proxy wars are longstanding tools of great-power rivalry because they allow one side to bleed the other without a direct clash of arms,” Hal Brands of the American Enterprise Institute wrote back in May. “The key to the strategy is to find a committed local partner — a proxy willing to do the killing and dying — and then load it up with the arms, money and intelligence needed to inflict shattering blows on a vulnerable rival.” (Brands, who favors this approach, warned that the U.S. would be better served if it carried out such a strategy more quietly.) Läs artikel