Special forces reported to be operating in U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine in February 2023, according to leaked documents
A small U.S. military special operations team has been operating out of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine since early in the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, according to two former and current U.S. officials who spoke to ABC News.
While the Pentagon had previously disclosed the presence of U.S. military personnel at the embassy, the purported leak of a highly classified document suggested that the embassy was also home to a special operations team, which had not been publicly acknowledged before.
The U.S. officials emphasized that the team is not on the front lines with Ukrainian troops and only operates out of the embassy. The team’s duties reportedly include providing security for VIPs and offering intelligence assistance to Ukrainian Special Operations Forces. One of the officials also confirmed that the team has assisted Ukrainian military planners with operations that have resulted in Russian military casualties.
The leaked document reportedly listed 14 U.S. special operations forces in Ukraine in late February 2023, along with a total of 97 special operations forces from five NATO countries operating in Ukraine. The highest number of special operations forces listed were from the United Kingdom, with numbers comparable to the US team from other countries.
The presence of U.S. military personnel at the embassy is part of a broader effort by the U.S. to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. The U.S. has been providing military aid to Ukraine which includes weapons, ammunition, and other equipment, to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression.
The U.S. military personnel at the embassy, including the special operations team, are reportedly focused on coordinating, and overseeing US military assistance to Ukraine, as well as other forms of security cooperation.
Pentagon has previously stated that the U.S. military personnel at the embassy are not in Ukraine in a combat role but rather to help with the accountability of the billions of U.S. military assistance being provided to Ukraine.
However, the presence of U.S. military personnel, including special operations forces, in Ukraine could be viewed as a provocation by Russia and potentially escalate tensions in the region. It is important for the U.S. to balance its support for Ukraine with the need to avoid escalating tensions with Russia and potentially exacerbating the conflict.