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Report: US helped Ukraine shoot down Russian plane carrying hundreds of troops

Russian military IL-76MD transport plane. (Dmitry Terekhov, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
April 26, 2022

The intelligence the U.S. shared with Ukraine helped it resist Russian invading forces and even shoot down a transport plane carrying hundreds of Russian troops in the early days of the war, a new report revealed this week.

According to current and former U.S. officials who spoke with NBC News on Tuesday, the U.S. provided critical intelligence about likely targets of Russian military strikes, giving the Ukrainian military the critical heads up they needed to prevent tons of their military equipment from being destroyed in the early hours of Russia’s invasion. The officials said U.S. intelligence also enabled the Ukrainian military to shoot down a transport plane, helping it to repel an attack on a key airport near the capital city of Kyiv during the early days of the invasion.

The U.S. officials provided no additional details about the incident.

The U.S. officials described the intelligence sharing about the Russian transport plane as part of a “massive and unprecedented intelligence-sharing operation” they said has helped Ukraine continue to fight against the larger and better equipped Russian military.

“From the get-go, we leaned pretty heavily forward in sharing both strategic and actionable intelligence with Ukraine,” one official on the matter told NBC News. “It’s been impactful both at a tactical and strategic level. There are examples where you could tell a pretty clear story that this made a major difference.”

One official highlighted how the U.S. intelligence-sharing efforts have saved Ukrainian military equipment from being destroyed, allowing them to stay in the fight and continue to hinder Russian advances.

“The Russian military has literally been cratering empty fields where air defenses were once set up,” the official said. “It has had an enormous impact on the Russian military’s ability on the ground.”

A former U.S. official said the U.S. has shared commercial satellite images “but also a lot of other intelligence about, for example, where certain types of Russian units are active.” The former official said the U.S. has not only shared defensive information but advice for going on the offensive, such as “things that could be used for specific targeting of Russian forces.”

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council separately told NBC News, “We are regularly providing detailed, timely intelligence to the Ukrainians on the battlefield to help them defend their country against Russian aggression and will continue to do so.”

Russia has accused the U.S. of using Ukraine as a proxy to harm its forces. On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said continued U.S. and NATO support for Ukraine “adds fuel to the fire” and increases the risk of World War III.

This article was updated to remove footage of a plane wreckage incorrectly identified as a Russian plane.