Top secret US intelligence detailing plans to help Ukraine beat Russia are leaked on Twitter and Telegram
- The Pentagon said it is assessing the reported security breach
- The documents reportedly contain charts and details about weapons deliveries, battalion strengths and other sensitive information
Secret documents that provide details of US and NATO plans to help prepare Ukraine for a spring offensive against Russia have spilled onto social media platforms, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
The Pentagon said it is assessing the reported security breach.
‘We are aware of the reports of social media posts, and the Department is reviewing the matter,’ Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said.
The documents were spread on Twitter and Telegram, and reportedly contain charts and details about weapons deliveries, battalion strengths and other sensitive information, the New York Times said.
Information in the documents is at least five weeks old, with the most recent dated March 1, the report said.
Ukrainian servicemen fire an artillery shell near the frontline area amid the Russia-Ukraine war, in Bakhmut, Ukraine on April 2, 2023
One of the documents summarised the training schedules of 12 Ukraine combat brigades, and said nine of them were being trained by US and NATO forces, and needed 250 tanks and more than 350 mechanised vehicles, the newspaper said.
The documents – at least one of which carried a ‘top secret’ label – were circulated on pro-Russian government channels, it said.
Information in the documents also details expenditure rates for munitions under Ukraine military control, including for the HIMARS rocket systems, the US-made artillery rocket systems that have proven highly effective against Russian forces, it added.
The report quoted military analysts who warned that some documents appear to have been altered in a disinformation campaign by Russia, in one document inflating Ukrainian troop deaths and minimising Russian battlefield losses.
Military analysts said the documents seem to have been modified in parts from their original format, overstating American estimates of Ukrainian war dead and understating estimates of Russian troop losses.
The modifications could be indicators of a push for disinformation by Moscow, the analysts said.
However, the disclosures in the original documents, in the form of photographs of charts of expected weapons deliveries, battalion and troop strengths, and other plans, amount to a major breach of American intelligence in the effort to aid Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden’s officials attempting get them deleted but had not, as of Thursday evening, been able to do so.
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.
The documents are five weeks old and as such offer the American and Ukrainian view, as of March 1, of what Ukrainian troops might require for the campaign.
The documents mention, for instance, the expenditure rate of HIMARS.
HIMARS are high mobility artillery rocket systems supplied by the US. They are capable of attacks on targets such as ammunition dumps, infrastructure and concentrations of troops, from afar.
Ukrainian soldier of the Aidar battalion fires artillery in the direction of Bakhmut in Donetsk oblast, April 4, 2023
While the Pentagon has not publicly stated how fast Ukrainian troops are using the HIMARS munitions, it is stated in the documents.
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.
It is not known how the documents ended up on social media.
The analysts said that documents released by Russian sources could be selectively changed to present Russia’s disinformation.
‘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.
On Tuesday it was reported that the United States intends to send Ukraine further air defense interceptors and munitions as part of a $2.6 billion aid package.
Some of this will be used to help Ukraine prepare for a planned spring offensive against Russian troops.
The package includes $500 million in ammunition and equipment from US military stockpiles and $2.1 billion that the United States will use to purchase munitions, radar and other weapons to send to Ukraine in the future.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a statement: ‘Russia alone could end its war today. Until Russia does, the United States and our allies and partners will stand united with Ukraine for as long as it takes.’
The $2.1 billion is from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a funding program led by the Defense Department.
It will be used to buy missiles for NASAMS air defense systems.
The money will also be used to buy anti-aircraft ammunition, fuel tankers, mobile laser-guided rocket systems, and other equipment, the Pentagon has said.
The air defense systems contain two new anti-drone weapons systems: nine trucks each complete with a 30-millimetre gun and 10 mobile rocket launchers.
A senior defense official said in a briefing to reporters from the Pentagon that the mobile launchers would fire a laser-guided rocket that was previously provided to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Russia has captured the west bank of the Bakhmutka River, putting a key Ukraine supply route in danger, in its push to regain control of the devastated eastern city of Bakhmut, the British defence ministry said on Friday.
It said: ‘In recent days, Russian forces have regained some momentum in the battle for Bakhmut. Since late March 2023 their advance had largely stalled.
‘Russia has made further gains and has now highly likely advanced into the town centre, and has seized the west bank of the Bakhmutka River. Ukraine’s key 0506 supply route to the west of the town is likely severely threatened.
‘Russian regular forces, likely including airborne troops, have probably reinforced the area, and Russia is again using artillery more effectively in the sector.
‘There is realistic possibility that, locally, Wagner and Russian MoD commanders have paused their ongoing feud and improved co-operation.’
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