According to sources, a leak of confidential papers online linked to US and NATO plans for a Ukrainian operation against Russia involves sensitive “internal affairs” of American partners that will certainly have an impact on US national security.
The Pentagon is looking into how dozens of sensitive documents (around two months old) ended up on Discord before reaching Twitter and Telegram (a messaging service popular in Russia). According to US authorities, the leak will have a global impact on America’s national security. The released records also include intelligence on “internal problems” from US allies such as Israel, the United Kingdom, and South Korea.
According to The New York Times, some records appear to have been manipulated to indicate a considerably larger number of Ukrainian losses and a much lower number of Russian deaths. They also include information concerning Ukrainian soldiers and military equipment, as well as information that has never been made public, such as the Ukrainian military’s burn rate of HIMARS rockets supplied by the US.
Ukraine claims the stolen documents include false material disseminated by Russia and have nothing to do with Ukraine’s true objectives. Still, a US official told CNN that the documents “appear legitimate.” According to the Journal, experts who evaluated the materials believe the leak was not part of a Russian disinformation operation.
On the other hand, Ukrainian officials continue to dismiss the leaked papers’ veracity. Ukraine’s military intelligence spokesperson, Andriy Chernyak, stated that the leak is an “operation by Russia’s special services,” but Kyiv is taking further safeguards due to the breach.
President Volodymyr Zelensky noted that his country is beefing up security to avoid unauthorized exposures of critical military intelligence as it prepares to launch an onslaught against Russia. The Justice Department launched an inquiry into how the papers were leaked and if they were changed. It’s unknown who leaked the documents or where they came from. Aric Toler, the research and training director of Bellingcat, an investigative journalism organization specializing in open-source intelligence, claimed on Saturday that he tracked the original uploading of the papers to a Discord channel called Thug Shaker Central. Hundreds of files were allegedly shared on the Minecraft Discord server between January and March.
According to the WSJ, US officials are investigating many theories for how the leak of secret material occurred. On Saturday, officials in the United States suggested that the material may have been released by someone in the government with top-secret security clearance or that American intelligence networks had been hacked.