Classified US documents on Ukraine war leaked: Report

War plans spread on social media reportedly contain charts and details about weapons deliveries and other sensitive information, New York Times says.

Ukrainian soldier carries a portable anti-aircraft missile system in the area of the heaviest battles with the Russian invaders in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Roman Chop)
A Ukrainian soldier carries an anti-aircraft missile system in an area of the heaviest battles with Russian invaders in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine [File: Roman Chop/AP]

Secret documents that provide details of US and NATO plans to help prepare Ukraine for a spring offensive against Russia have spilled onto social media platforms, the New York Times reported.

The apparent leak looked like a Russian disinformation operation to sow doubt about Ukraine’s planned counteroffensive, a Ukrainian presidential official said on Friday.

Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters news agency the data contained a “very large amount of fictitious information” and Russia was trying to seize back the initiative in its invasion.

The Pentagon said on Thursday it is assessing the apparent security breach.

“We are aware of the reports of social media posts, and the department is reviewing the matter,” Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said.

The documents were spread on Twitter and Telegram, and reportedly contain charts and details about weapons deliveries, battalion strengths and other sensitive information, the Times said.

There was no explanation as to how the plans were obtained.

Information in the documents is at least five weeks old with the most recent dated March 1, the report said. The plans did not provide specific action such as when Ukraine would launch the offensive.

One of the documents summarised the training schedules of 12 Ukraine combat brigades, and said nine were being trained by US and NATO forces. About 250 tanks and more than 350 mechanised vehicles are required for the operation, the newspaper said.

The classified documents, at least one of which carried a “top secret” label, were circulated on pro-Russian government channels, it said.

Information in the documents also details expenditure rates for munitions under Ukraine military control, including for the HIMARS rockets, the US-made artillery systems that have proven highly effective against Russian forces, it added.

“To the trained eye of a Russian war planner, field general or intelligence analyst … the documents no doubt offer many tantalizing clues and insights,” the Times said.

The report quoted military analysts who warned some documents appear to have been altered in a disinformation campaign by Russia, with one inflating Ukrainian troop deaths and minimising Russian battlefield losses.

Kyiv said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and top security officials discussed ways to prevent leaks of military information at a meeting on Friday.

A statement about the meeting issued by the president’s office did not say a leak had occurred and did not refer to the New York Times report.

“The participants of the meeting focused on measures to prevent the leakage of information regarding the plans of the defence forces of Ukraine,” a presidency statement said.

The apparent leak comes as fighting continues in the town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, which has been one of the deadliest battles of the war so far.

While Western analysts have played down its strategic significance, Kyiv has framed its dogged defence of the city as a way of wearing down Russian forces ahead of the expected counteroffensive bolstered by advanced Western-supplied weapons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the invasion a “special military operation” necessary to eliminate Nazis and defend Russia from a hostile West. Ukraine and its allies call it an unprovoked war of aggression.

The conflict has killed thousands of people, wrecked cities and destabilised the global economy. Millions of Ukrainians have fled to neighbouring nations while others have been internally displaced.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies