The U.S. has confirmed there is a “small U.S. military presence” deployed in Ukraine after leaked documents indicated several Western countries had special forces units on the ground amid Russia’s invasion.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told Fox News on Wednesday U.S. troops are in Ukraine, but “are not fighting on the battlefield.”
“I won’t talk to the specifics of numbers and that kind of thing,” he said. “There is a small U.S. military presence at the embassy in conjunction with the Defense Attachés office to help us work on accountability of the material that is going in and out of Ukraine.”
“So they’re attached to that embassy and to [the Defense Attaché],” he added.
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The comment came after a leaked top secret document indicated 14 U.S. special forces units were in Ukraine, as well as 50 from the U.K. and 33 from other NATO member countries, as reported by BBC.
The Associated Press previously reported that a small number of U.S. forces had begun doing on-site inspections in Ukraine to make sure weapons from Western countries are properly accounted for.
A defense attaché is a military service member appointed to an embassy abroad as a representative of their country’s military. In Ukraine, U.S. defense attachés advise the U.S. ambassador and other personnel on “all defense and security matters and [provide] timely, accurate information to senior leaders on defense and security issues affecting Ukraine and the region,” according to the office’s website.
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The Ukrainian defense attaché consists of representatives from four military branches and interacts “across a broad spectrum” with the Ukrainian defense ministry, according to the website.
Despite providing Ukraine dozens of billions of dollars in military assistance since the invasion began more than a year ago, President Joe Biden has said U.S. troops will not be sent to fight there.
This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.