Second batch of classified documents leaked detailing US secrets on Ukraine, China and Middle East
A second batch of classified documents detailing the United States’ analysis 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 agency 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 deal with the war in Ukraine, China, terrorism and the Middle East.
The Pentagon confirmed the leak, but said some documents — as with the previously reported leak — had been manipulated to downplay the strength of U.S. allies.
According to Aric Toler, an analyst at Bellingcat, the Dutch research site, the first tranche of documents appeared to have been posted on the social media platform Discord in early March.
Friday’s documents were published on the controversial message board 4Chan and then circulated on Twitter.
A second batch of documents was leaked online on Friday. They contain maps and charts with US analysis of the fighting in Ukraine. Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers hold rocket-propelled grenades as they attend a training exercise in the Donetsk region on Friday
Joe Biden, seen Tuesday in Washington DC. His administration confirmed that the leaked documents were genuine, but said some aspects had been tampered with
The documents include photographs of maps of weapons to be delivered to Ukraine, as well as estimates of troop and battalion strengths.
Pentagon officials said the documents were genuine but appear to have been altered.
Among the documents leaked on Friday was a map showing the status of the war in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which has been at the center of heavy fighting for six months. It was not clear whether the map had been changed, but on Thursday a slide published online exaggerated the magnitude of Ukrainian deaths and downplayed Russian losses.
The slide said 16,000 to 17,500 Russian soldiers had been killed, while Ukraine had killed as many as 71,500 soldiers.
The Pentagon and other analysts estimate that Russia has seen 200,000 killed and wounded — double the figure for Ukraine.
The leaked documents also referred to US analyzes of the situation in the Middle East and China, as well as terrorist threats worldwide.
The Chinese army was pictured during a parade on Thursday. The leaked documents also contain detailed US 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 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-Russian bloggers suggested the documents were deliberately distributed and could be the work of “Western intelligence agencies 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 ministry is looking into the matter,” said Sabrina Singh, deputy press secretary.
The information in the documents is at least five weeks old, with the most recent date being March 1, the report said.
One of the documents summarized the training schedules of 12 Ukrainian combat brigades, saying that nine of them were trained by US and NATO forces.
According to the document, the brigades needed 250 tanks and more than 350 mechanized vehicles, the paper said.
The documents – at least one of which was labeled “top secret” – were circulated on pro-Russian government channels.
Ukrainian soldiers fire an artillery shell near the front line during the Russia-Ukraine war, in Bakhmut, Ukraine on April 2
Ukrainian soldier from the Aidar battalion fires artillery in the direction of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast on April 4
Information in the documents also details spending on ammunition under Ukraine’s military control, including for the HIMARS missile systems, the US-made artillery missile systems that have proven highly effective against Russian forces.
HIMARS are US-supplied high mobility artillery missile systems
They are capable of launching attacks against targets such as ammunition dumps, infrastructure and troop concentrations from afar.
While the Pentagon has not publicly stated how quickly Ukrainian forces are using the HIMARS munitions, it is in the documents.
Biden officials’ attempts to have them removed had been unsuccessful Thursday evening.
The documents do not provide specific details about how, when and where Ukraine plans to launch its offensive, which US officials say is likely to take place within the next month.
Analysts said on Friday it could be difficult to assess the impact of the disclosure of the documents on the frontline conflict now and in the months to come.
Russia has had a hard time advancing into eastern Ukraine and Western analysts are unsure whether the Russian military, after suffering massive casualties, will be able to continue with another attack, or an advance of the Ukrainian troops will turn away.
“Whether these documents are authentic or not, people should be careful about anything released by Russian sources,” said Michael Kofman, director of Russian studies at CNA, a research institute in Arlington, Virginia.