A leak of classified documents on the web in relation to plans from the United States and NATO for an offensive in Ukraine against Russia included classified “internal matters” about American allies and will most likely end up hurting the national security of the U.S., as explained by officials.
Officials with the Pentagon are investigating how several dozen classified documents, which are only about two months old, managed to pop up on Discord prior to escaping to both Twitter and Telegram, an app for messaging that has a high level of reach in Russia. U.S. officials explained to The Wall Street Journal that this leak will most likely impact America’s national security worldwide, and the papers also seem to include intelligence about “internal matters” from U.S. allies such as Israel, the U.K., and South Korea.
A few of the documents appear to have been changed to show the total number of Ukrainian casualties being much higher and Russian casualties being much lower, as reported by The New York Times. They also include details regarding military forces from Ukraine and their military load outs, and reveal a bit of information that has never been available to the general public, such as the Ukrainian military’s burn rate of HIMARS munitions, which the U.S. has supplied to Ukraine.
Ukraine thinks that the leaked documents are laden with fake information had been leaked by Russia and “have nothing to do with Ukraine’s real plans,” but a U.S. official explained to CNN that the documents “look real.” experts who have reviewed the documents also have expressed some level of doubt that the leak was just a piece of a Russian disinformation campaign, continued the Journal.
However, Ukrainian officials continued to downplay any and all validity of the leaked documents. Andriy Chernyak, Ukraine’s military intelligence spokesman, stated that the leak is just an “operation by Russia’s special services,” but Kyiv is taking further precautions in the wake of the leak. President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that his country is bolstering its security as a means to stop any further unauthorized disclosures of very important military intelligence as it reportedly gets ready to start an offensive against Russia in the near future.
The Department of Justice kicked off its own investigation regarding just how the documents ended up being leaked and if they had been altered. It still remains unclear where the leaked documents came from and who leaked them. Aric Toler, the lead of research and training at Bellingcat, an investigative journalism group that specialized in the area of open-source intelligence, stated this past Saturday that he traced the first posting of the information back to a discord group titled Thug Shaker Central. From January-March, multiple hundred of files were reportedly posted on that Discord server that normally appeals to Minecraft gamers.