Secret documents about the war
What the US leaks to Ukraine are about
04/09/2023, 1:15 p.m
Apparently secret documents from US agencies on the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine have been circulating on social networks for weeks. In the USA, the media have been reporting on the sensitive material on both warring parties for days without publishing the sensitive documents themselves. It is also unclear how the papers were made public. The investigative network Bellingcat proved that some of the documents were subsequently manipulated. Some questions and answers about the leaks.
What exactly does the publication say?
According to US media, the secret documents contain a lot of sensitive information – including weapons deliveries and information on ammunition consumption. There are also maps showing the course of the front and the locations of Russian and Ukrainian troops and their strengths. Some of the documents marked as “secret” came from February and March, as the news portal “Politico” reported. Accordingly, there was also information on plans by NATO and the USA on how the Ukrainian military should be prepared and armed for an upcoming spring offensive. Details on the number and type of planned weapon deliveries and the expected delivery dates are also noted. The “New York Times” also reported on further details. Accordingly, the US also tried to spy on Ukrainian officials. Nevertheless, the US side understands better what the Russians are planning than what Ukraine is planning. The US secret services could have given Kiev real-time warnings about the exact time of Russian attacks, including specific targets.
No, the leaks are not just limited to Ukraine. Analysis and information on other countries, such as China or Israel, are also included in the documents, the Washington Post newspaper wrote. It is also partly possible to see the methods used by the US secret services to collect the information and who the sources are. The documents apparently came from various US intelligence services and even from the high command of the US armed forces, the Wall Street Journal reported. It seems to be briefing documents, it said.
Are the documents genuine?
Probably, but there’s a catch. According to Bellingcat expert Aric Toler, the documents first circulated on Discord, a platform popular with gamers. From there they were then distributed by Russian users. So they could be real, but Toler also showed that some documents were clearly manipulated afterwards. The US broadcaster CNN reported that government officials had confirmed the authenticity of the documents. Many of the documents did not appear to be forged and were similar in format to those of the US foreign intelligence agency, the CIA, government officials confirmed to the Washington Post. The documents of the supreme command of the armed forces look authentic, the New York Times reported, citing government officials.
What is the US saying?
The US authorities seem to be taking the matter very seriously. Both the Pentagon and the Justice Department are investigating the incidents. US President Joe Biden is “concerned” about the volume of documents that have been made public, a senior government official confirmed to Politico.
But who is behind the leak?
That is not clear. The mole is now being searched for feverishly. The investigations were first and foremost directed inwards, CNN reported, citing government circles. Photographs of printouts of the secret documents can be seen on the Internet. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of employees and outsiders with the appropriate level of security would have had access, a Defense Department official told the Washington Post. Such violations are among the most serious crimes committed to US national security, a former US Air Force attorney told the newspaper.
Could the publication even have an impact on the course of the war?
Possible. The documents could harm Ukraine and the US in several ways. Although they are a few weeks old, they could still provide Moscow with valuable information, Dmitri Alperovitch, head of the Silverado Policy Accelerator think tank, told the Washington Post. Although they did not contain concrete battle plans, they did show the type and quantity of Western weapons that had arrived on Ukraine’s battlefields, how many soldiers could use them, and how Ukraine intended to defend itself against Russian attacks. The documents also made it clear to what extent Russia’s security apparatus was penetrated by US secret services, wrote the New York Times. That gives Moscow information about where its weak points are.
How did Ukraine and Russia react to the publication?
Ukraine has been claiming for days that the documents were forged by Russia. “It’s an ordinary intelligence game,” said Presidential Office Advisor Mykhailo Podoliak. The Russian secret services prepared the documents themselves in order to sow doubt and discord among Kiev’s allies and to distract attention from the next stages of the war. Russia, on the other hand, sees Washington’s involvement in the conflict in Ukraine once again as confirmed by the reports in the USA. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN that US and NATO involvement in the conflict continues to grow. “We keep an eye on the process.” However, Russia does not expect any influence on its warfare – and expects a victory. In contrast, the US Institute for War Studies (ISW) noted fear and nervousness among Russian war bloggers after the documents were published.
What does the leak mean for US partners?
As the documents show, the US services also spied on the ranks of their own allies. That could cause upsets between the Allies. The releases also raise new questions about the security of intelligence information passed to the United States by other countries, it said, referring to the wide-ranging exchange of classified information between the so-called Five Eyes states of the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada .