Pentagon leaks: What are the latest takeaways?

Highly classified intelligence reports may have been spread online by a gun enthusiast who worked at a US military base, according to the Washington Post.

The Pentagon is seen from the air in Washington, DC
The Pentagon has confirmed the documents 'appear to contain sensitive and highly classified material' [File: Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

Top secret US military documents continue to surface, keeping the Pentagon on high alert as Washington tries to contain the fallout from the leaks.

The information provided in the leaks exposes sensitive state secrets that include details of Ukraine’s preparation for a spring offensive and suggest the United States has been spying on its allies.

The Pentagon has confirmed the documents “appear to contain sensitive and highly classified material”, but stated at least some have been doctored.

On Wednesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said the leaks might be fake and a deliberate attempt to mislead Moscow.

Here is the latest about the leaks, which have not yet been verified.

A gun enthusiast who worked on a US military base may be responsible

The Washington Post reported the person who leaked the classified documents could have been a gun enthusiast in his 20s who worked on a US military base, citing fellow members of an online chat group.

The person shared classified information to a group on the social media app Discord with about two dozen men and young boys who shared a “mutual love of guns, military gear and God”, the Post said.

The person went by the handle “OG”, slang for Original Gangster, and is said to have been admired by other group members, some of whom were below 18 years of age.

“He’s fit. He’s strong. He’s armed. He’s trained. Just about everything you can expect out of some sort of crazy movie,” one member of the group was quoted as saying.

Al Jazeera was unable to verify the details of the report independently.

The US felt the UN chief was too ‘accommodating’ with Russia

One recent leak, seen by the BBC, appears to contain information gleaned from private conversations between United Nations chief António Guterres and his deputy.

The US perceived Guterres’s stance on the Black See grain deal as too sympathetic to Russian interests.

The deal, brokered by the UN and Turkey, created procedures for safe maritime grain shipments from Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

The documents reveal the US felt Guterres’s approach was “undermining broader efforts to hold Moscow accountable for its actions in Ukraine”. They also say the UN chief “emphasised his efforts to improve Russia’s ability to export”, adding he would do this “even if it involves sanctioned Russian entities or individuals”.

What else has been revealed in the leaks?

The leaks have highlighted how closely the US monitors how its allies and friends interact with Russia and China.

Officials in several countries have denied or rejected allegations from the leaked records.

The documents also show the US believes China would provide, in particular scenarios, support for Russia in the Ukraine war.

One document stated, “China would respond more strongly and most likely increase the scale and scope of materiel it is willing to provide Russia if Ukrainian strikes hit a location of high strategic value or appeared to target senior Russian leaders.”

The leaks indicate Russian operatives may have been building stronger relationships with the United Arab Emirates, which hosts important US military installations. The UAE rejected the allegations, calling them “categorically false”.

The Washington Post also reported on Monday that Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi discussed a plan to supply Russia with 40,000 rockets. A spokesman for the foreign ministry said Cairo was maintaining “noninvolvement in this crisis and committing to maintain equal distance with both sides”.

One document said the US may have spied on its ally South Korea, providing details of alleged discussions among top aides to President Yoon Suk-yeol.

According to the conversation, South Korea expressed concerns over shipping artillery shells to the US, which could send them to Ukraine. The move would violate South Korea’s longstanding policy of not exporting weapons to countries at war.

One leaked report suggests Israel’s Mossad spy service opposed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed overhaul of the judiciary.

What the leaks reveal about the Ukraine war

Several purported US intelligence assessments paint a more pessimistic outlook for the Ukrainian military than the US has provided publicly. They suggest Kyiv is heading for only “modest territorial gains” in its much-anticipated spring counteroffensive.

The documents also indicate Ukraine is using up large amounts of air defence stocks, including Russian-made BUK and S-300 systems, leaving the country vulnerable to attacks from Russian military aircraft.

The US may also have monitored calls between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukrainian defence and military officials.

If proved authentic, the leaks suggest the US penetrated Russian military forces and mercenary organisation the Wagner Group to a greater extent than previously understood.

Source: Al Jazeera