Ukraine is set to change its military plans following a mass leak of US intelligence documents that detailed “critical shortages” among the defending nation’s manpower. A source closer to President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed that changes have now been made, though other Ukrainian officials dismissed the US intelligence information as “fictitious”. The documents, first revealed by the New York Times last week, have been leaked at an inopportune time ahead of expected Ukrainian counter offensives in the next few weeks.
While the documents, which were posted on sites such as Twitter, provided no details on any planned counter offensive, they showed what appeared to be details on the progress of weapons and equipment going into Ukraine, with more precise timelines and amounts than the US provides publicly.
The information was dated from February 23 to March 1 and was labelled secret. It resembled routine updates that the US military’s Joint Staff would produce daily but privately.
Conflicting reports are coming out of Ukraine regarding the implications of these leaks, while some officials have questioned the authenticity of what appeared on social media.
While the documents appear to have been once authentic, several bits of seemingly inaccurate information contained within them suggest that they had been doctored before being posted to social media.
Under a section titled “Total Assessed Losses,” for example, one document lists 16,000-17,500 Russian casualties and up to 71,000 Ukrainian casualties.
That figure is inconsistent with recent public estimates by US intelligence sources, which put the total number of Russian soldiers killed or wounded in Ukraine at around 220,000. UK defence secretary Ben Wallace has also said he believes the 220,000 figure is accurate.
Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate, described the information leak as containing “false, distorted figures”.
Speaking to Ukrainian TV, he added: “It is very important to remember that in recent decades, the Russian special services’ most successful operations have been taking place in Photoshop.”
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Mr Zelensky, previously said the documents were “based on a large amount of fictitious information” and had “nothing to do with Ukraine’s real plans”.
“These are just standard elements of operational games by Russian intelligence. And nothing more,” he said in a written statement.
But on Monday morning, reports claimed that sources close to the President’s office had suggested Ukraine would be changing its plans ahead of expected counter offensives.
The charts and graphs leaked described the battlefield status of both sides from a month ago, US military movements during the previous 24 hours, personnel numbers and the local weather outlook, but there was no evidence of information on future military plans.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office released a statement Friday, however, about a meeting he had with his senior military staff.
It noted that “the participants of the meeting focused on measures to prevent the leakage of information regarding the plans of the defence forces of Ukraine”.
While the information leak showed how deep US intelligence penetrated Russian services, it also showed that they struggle to understand “Ukrainian planning”.
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