Three US officials told Reuters that Russia or pro-Russian figures were likely behind the leak of several classified US military documents posted on social media that provide a partial picture of the war in Ukraine. At the same time, the US Justice Department stated that it was investigating the leak.
Leaked records have been edited to suit Russian narratives
According to US officials, the leaked records appear to have been edited to reduce the number of losses inflicted by Russian invading forces. They said that their judgments were informal and unrelated to the inquiry into the leak, Reuters reported. A low number of Russian military losses in the war against Ukraine fit Moscow’s disinformation narratives.
Given the issue’s sensitivity, US officials talked to Reuters on the condition of anonymity and declined to discuss the materials in detail. Response requests were not immediately responded to by the Russian government or Russia’s embassy in Washington.
An initial batch of documents, dated March 1 and labeled “Secret” and “Top Secret,” circulated on social media platforms such as Twitter and Telegram.
The US Justice Department stated that it was in contact with the Defense Department and began investigating the leak. It is unusual for such sensitive documents to be leaked.
Russian losses are estimated at 200 000, not 16 000
According to one document shared on social media, 16,000 to 17,500 Russian servicemen have been killed since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. According to authorities, the US believes the total is significantly higher, with about 200,000 Russians killed and injured.
Early in 2022, Ukrainian forces stopped Russia’s full-scale invasion and a massive assault on Kyiv. The fighting, which Moscow calls a “special military operation,” has grown into an all-out war that has lasted almost 14 months and in which Russia suffered significant defeats in the Kyiv region, in Kharkiv region, in Lyman, and Kherson, liberated by the Ukrainian army.
The leak is a Russian misinformation campaign – Podolyak
Speculation has grown regarding what offensive Ukraine and Russian invaders may launch in the war’s second year. The leaked documents provided no precise information on Ukraine’s Armed Forces plans.
A Ukrainian presidential official said the leak featured a “large amount of fictitious information”. It appeared to be a Russian disinformation campaign that cast doubts on Ukraine’s planned counter-offensive.
“These are just standard elements of operational games by Russian intelligence. And nothing more,” Mykhailo Podolyak said in a statement.
The US is monitoring both, Ukraine, and Russia – NYT
According to the New York Times, which cites sources, a leak of classified Pentagon documents reveals that the US is monitoring the conduct of both the Ukrainian and Russian troops during Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The documents show a depleted Russian army fighting in Ukraine and a severely weakened military apparatus. They include regular real-time warnings from US intelligence agencies about when and where Moscow would strike, as well as specific targets. Because of this intelligence, the US has been able to supply Ukraine with important information on how to defend itself, the publication reads.
This leak also reveals the American evaluation of the Ukrainian army, which desperately needs air defense weaponry.
According to the New York Times, these documents also confirm the belief among intelligence officials that the US has a better understanding of Russian military activities than it does of Ukrainian strategy. Intelligence gathering is frequently challenging and even incorrect, but it likely provides the complete picture of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.