Washington allegedly sought to dissuade Kiev from trying to kill the head of the Russian General Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov, the New York Times (NYT) reported on Saturday.
The paper cites “secret battle plans, intercepts and interviews with Russian soldiers and Kremlin confidants,” as well as some unnamed US officials.
According to the NYT, the US learned of alleged plans for Gerasimov to visit the frontlines of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in late April.
American officials decided to withhold the information from Ukraine, out of fear that Kiev might try to kill the general, potentially sparking a conflict between the US and Russia, the NYT added.
The Ukrainian military reportedly obtained the information about Gerasimov’s plans anyway, prompting US officials to request Kiev to call off an attack on the Russian general, the media outlet said. The request was tabled after consultations with the White House, the NYT said.
“We told them not to do it,” a senior American official told the paper. “We were like, ‘Hey, that’s too much.’”
The Ukrainian military still launched an attack on what they believed was the general’s position. Gerasimov was not affected by the strike in any way, the NYT said, adding that the attack still allegedly made Russian top military commanders “scale back” their visits to the frontlines.
Russia has never officially confirmed Gerasimov’s April visit to the frontlines. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the chief of the general staff visited Russian troops in Ukraine in early July, meeting senior officers, and listened to reports on the military operation as well as combat support from the troops, the ministry said.
His visit reportedly came a week after Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu traveled to the frontlines to present top state awards to servicemen involved in the conflict. The Defense Ministry did not mention any Ukrainian attacks targeting either the minister or the head of the General Staff at that time.
Back in early May, the NYT published a report of an alleged Ukrainian strike targeting Gerasimov a week before.
The report cited an anonymous Ukrainian official who claimed that the attack had missed its target but taken the lives of some 200 soldiers, including at least one general. Moscow never confirmed any of these claims.