Data leak: Secret US documents are a nuisance for the new phase of the war

The outflow of explosive US information on the war in Ukraine, one of the biggest secret service scandals, is not only putting pressure on Washington.

Data leak: Secret US documents are a nuisance for the new phase of the war

The outflow of explosive US information on the war in Ukraine, one of the biggest secret service scandals, is not only putting pressure on Washington. The two warring factions Kiev and Moscow will also have to deal with this disruptive fire ahead of the expected Ukrainian spring offensive. While Russia sees itself as embarrassed by the situation reports and casualty figures – allegedly 43,000 Russian soldiers killed so far – Ukraine is trying to downplay the damage to its own warfare.

US experts attest to weaknesses in the Ukrainian armed forces - which Kiev is unlikely to like. Despite the weapons and ammunition deliveries, Ukraine is probably not in a position to reclaim as many areas as it did during the offensive last fall, the Washington Post reported, citing the documents. The New York Times had previously reported that Ukraine's anti-aircraft defenses could not withstand the Russian attacks much longer. Much of this was known, at least in part, before the documents appeared.

For days, however, new details from the dozens of documents have been coming to light. The photographed documents have actually been circulating for weeks on the Discord platform, which is popular with gamers. They were then spread across major social networks such as Twitter and Telegram, where they have since been deleted or eliminated. But the US media, in particular, continue to organize the information into a larger picture - and exploit the recent secret service scandal for leaks. In addition to Ukraine, other countries have also been affected by the leak.

Similarities to Wikileaks

Some are reminiscent of the publications by Wikileaks on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan or the revelations of the whistleblower Edward Snowden, who in 2013 made public the extent of the worldwide surveillance and espionage practices of the USA and lives in Russia. It is unclear who is behind the releases this time. But the US authorities are feverishly searching for the traitor.

In Russia, the media reported with regret that the US secret services were apparently well informed about Moscow's military activities. In the newspapers, however, satisfaction prevailed that the recent scandal could shake the confidence of the Western secret services in the United States and perhaps sow discord. The US obviously couldn't keep any secrets, the tabloid MK wrote.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov spoke of "interesting" documents that prove the involvement of the United States and NATO in the conflict, but ultimately have no impact on Russia's war goals. The main benefit for Moscow is that the documents also show how deeply US agents have penetrated Russian structures. Moscow can now cut connections thanks to the communication channels shown. US media also pointed out that whistleblowers were now in grave danger.

Targeted spread?

Both Moscow and Kiev warned that the published documents could be a targeted disinformation campaign, as is often the case in wars. In Ukraine, the advisor in the presidential office, Mykhailo Podoliak, initially self-confidently described the "forged documents" as a "Russian secret service action" in order to ignite a propaganda firefight before the planned spring offensive. Moscow's goal is to unsettle the West and Ukraine. There have long been clear statements in the USA that the information is genuine.

However, the experts from the disclosure platform Bellingcat have proven that the documents were at least partially processed afterwards and embellished, for example, in the interest of Russia. But the original documents could also be reconstructed.

Nevertheless, Presidential Advisor Podoljak said it was no coincidence that the publication came just before the start of the long-awaited spring offensive. He sees Moscow as the source of the leak. Russia's aim is to distract from the essentials and cause a split among the alliance partners.

Podoljak, meanwhile, is trying to take advantage of the situation -- and wring more military support from the US, which may now show remorse and be even more willing to help make up for the defeat. "We need less thinking about 'information leaks' and more long-range weapons to end the war properly and confront Russia with reality," said the 51-year-old.

Eavesdropping action with consequences

Podoljak should not have overlooked the fact that according to a report by the TV station CNN, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was also bugged. Zelenskyj is said to have planned to shell military positions in Russia. This, in turn, may have deterred the US from surrendering longer-range missiles to Ukraine. The US feared that this could give China an excuse to support Russia with ammunition supplies.

However, the Ukrainian journalist Vitaly Portnikov does not believe that Kiev has changed its plans for the offensive because of the publications, as reported by the US media. "One cannot find any information about the counter-offensive of the Ukrainian high command in these secret and top-secret documents," he says in his video blog. Above all, it is about analyzing the state of the Ukrainian and Russian armed forces, their fatigue, their armament, the air defense situation.

Despite the calm demonstrated by Kiev in public, the Ukrainian leadership reacted quite quickly on Friday. At a meeting of state and military leaders, measures were discussed to prevent further information about the counter-offensive plans from becoming public. On Saturday, Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov assured on the radio that "no more than three to five people" were aware of it. That makes an outflow of information less likely. The Russian enemy, like the public, should only find out about the counterattack when the time has come.