Second batch of classified docs on Ukraine, China, Middle East, leaked
Second batch of classified documents detailing US secrets on Ukraine war, China and Middle East are leaked on social media, sparking fears they could help Putin’s war effort
- The Pentagon on Thursday confirmed top secret documents about the Ukraine war were circulating on social media – some of them had been doctored
- On Friday a second tranche was released, including analysis of Ukraine’s fight to keep hold of Bakhmut, documents about China, and files on the Middle East
- The Pentagon said on Thursday the Defense Department was looking into the matter: a senior Ukrainian official said it appeared to be a Russian scheme
A second batch of classified documents detailing the United States’ analyses of global hotspots has been leaked online in a suspected Russian plot.
More than 100 documents are feared to have been obtained in what a senior intelligence called ‘a nightmare for the Five Eyes,’ – a reference to the intelligence sharing agreement between the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
The documents cover the war in Ukraine, China, terrorism and the Middle East.
The Pentagon confirmed the leak, but said that some of the documents – as with the earlier reported leak – had been doctored to downplay the strength of U.S. allies.
The first tranche of documents appeared to have been posted in early March on the social media platform Discord, according to Aric Toler, an analyst at Bellingcat, the Dutch investigative site.
Friday’s documents were published on the controversial message board 4Chan, and subsequently spread on Twitter.
A second batch of documents was leaked online on Friday. They included maps and charts detailing U.S. analyses of the fighting in Ukraine. Pictured: Ukrainian servicemen hold rocket propelled grenades as they attend a training exercise in the Donetsk region on Friday
Joe Biden, seen in Washington DC on Tuesday. His administration confirmed the leaked documents were real, but said some aspects had been doctored
The documents include photographs of charts of weapons that will be delivered to Ukraine, as well as estimates of troop and battalion strengths.
Pentagon officials said the documents were real, but appear to have been altered.
One of the documents leaked on Friday was a map showing the status of the war in the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, which for six months has been the center of fierce fighting. It was not clear if the map had been altered, but on Thursday, a slide published online exaggerated the scale of Ukrainian deaths and downplayed the Russian losses.
The slide said that 16,000 to 17,500 Russian soldiers had been killed, while Ukraine had suffered as many as 71,500 troop deaths.
The Pentagon and other analysts estimate that Russia has seen 200,000 killed and injured – double the figure for Ukraine.
The leaked documents also referred to U.S. analysis of the situation in the Middle East and China, and terrorist threats worldwide.
The Chinese army is pictured on parade on Thursday. The leaked documents also detailed U.S. assessments of China
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen on Wednesday
The leaks were first reported by The New York Times.
Sources told the paper that they were not believed to have come from Ukrainian officials, in part because the documents came from the offices of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, and Ukraine did not have access to them.
Pro-Russia bloggers suggested the documents had been deliberately disseminated, and could be the work of ‘Western intelligence in order to mislead our command.’
The Pentagon said it is assessing the security breach.
‘We are aware of the reports of social media posts, and the Department is reviewing the matter,’ said Sabrina Singh, deputy press secretary.
Information in the documents is at least five weeks old, with the most recent dated March 1, the report said.
One of the documents summarized the training schedules of 12 Ukraine combat brigades, and said nine of them were being trained by U.S. and NATO forces.
The document said the brigades needed 250 tanks and more than 350 mechanized vehicles, the newspaper said.
The documents – at least one of which carried a ‘top secret’ label – were circulated on pro-Russian government channels.
Ukrainian servicemen fire an artillery shell near the frontline area amid the Russia-Ukraine war, in Bakhmut, Ukraine on April 2
Ukrainian soldier of the Aidar battalion fires artillery in the direction of Bakhmut in Donetsk oblast, on April 4
Information in the documents also details expenditure rates for munitions under Ukraine military control, including for the HIMARS rocket systems, the U.S.-made artillery rocket systems that have proven highly effective against Russian forces.
HIMARS are high mobility artillery rocket systems supplied by the U.S.
They are capable of attacks on targets such as ammunition dumps, infrastructure and concentrations of troops, from afar.
While the Pentagon has not publicly stated how fast Ukrainian troops are using the HIMARS munitions, it is stated in the documents.
Biden’s officials’ attempts to get them deleted had not, as of Thursday evening, been successful.
The documents do not give specific details on how, when, and where Ukraine plans to launch its offensive, which American officials say will probably come in the next month or so.
Analysts said on Friday it could be hard to assess the impact of the documents’ disclosure on the frontline conflict now and in the months ahead.
Russia has found it difficult to advance in eastern Ukraine and Western analysts are uncertain whether the Russian military, after having sustained huge losses, will be able to press forward with another attack, or stave off a push from Ukrainian troops.
‘Whether these documents are authentic or not, people should take care with anything released by Russian sources,’ said Michael Kofman, the director of Russian studies at CNA, a research institute in Arlington, Virginia.
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