The new documents were released a day after top Biden administration officials said they were investigating a potential leak of documents detailing Ukrainian war plans and other information about the Ukrainian military and the state of the war.
One of the documents, dated February 23, is labeled “Secret/NoForn,” meaning it was not intended to be shared with foreign countries. In fact, a senior intelligence official called the leak “a nightmare for the Five Eyes”, referring to the United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the so-called “Five Eyes” nations, countries that generally share their information.
Mick Mulroy, a former top Pentagon official, said the leak of the classified documents was “a significant breach of security” that could hamper Ukrainian military planning. “Since many of these are photocopies of documents, it appears that this was a deliberate leak by someone who wanted to harm the efforts of Ukraine, the US and NATO,” he said.
What information do the documents contain?
The new batch of documents were published mainly on Twitter and Telegram, but one document was also found on 4chan, an anonymous posting platform that does not have a large audience. The document on 4chan is a map that claims to show the situation in the city of Bahmut, the scene of a fierce battle that has been going on for many months.
If the documents published on Thursday focus on the situation in Ukraine and NATO and US plans to strengthen the Ukrainian army, those on Friday go much further. Security analysts who have reviewed them say they contain sensitive information about China, the Indo-Pacific military theater, the Middle East and the fight against terrorism.
Documents on the Ukrainian military contain information on anticipated arms deliveries, troop capacity and other battle plans. Pentagon officials admit they are legitimate Defense Department documents, but the copies appear to have been altered in parts from their original format. The redacted versions, for example, overestimate US estimates of the number of Ukrainian soldiers killed on the front and underestimate estimates of Russians killed.
Would the document leak be part of information warfare?
On Friday, a senior Ukrainian official said the leak appeared to be a Russian plan to discredit Kiev’s counteroffensive, while Russian bloggers warned followers not to trust any information: “Western services could mislead our leadership.”
Behind closed doors, they are looking for the culprits. A security official said the documents may not have come from Ukrainian officials because they did not have access to specific plans, which bear the stamp of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff offices. A second said that finding out how the documents were leaked would start with identifying the officials who had access to them.
The first batch of documents appears to have been posted in early March on Discord, a platform popular among video gamers, according to Aric Toler, an analyst at Bellingcat, a Dutch investigative website.
In Ukraine, Lt. Col. Yuriy Bereza, a battalion commander of the Ukrainian National Guard whose forces have been fighting in the east of the country in recent months, says he is ignoring any news of the leak. He noted that the information war has become so intense that “we can no longer determine where the truth is and where the lie is.”
p class=”mb-8 px-6 md:px-0 font-bitter text-s17-l170 md:text-s18-l170 text-c121212″>”We are at that stage of war where information warfare is sometimes even more important than direct physical clashes on the front,” said Colonel Bereza.
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