New Batch Of US Classified War Documents Leaked
A new batch of classified documents that appear to detail U.S. national security secrets from Ukraine to the Middle East to China surfaced on social media sites Friday, The New York Times reported.
Russia or pro-Russian elements are likely behind an earlier leak of several classified U.S. military documents posted on social media that offer a skewed, month-old snapshot of the war in Ukraine, three U.S. officials told Reuters Friday.
The documents appear to have lowered the number of casualties suffered by Russian forces, the U.S. officials said, adding that their assessments were informal and separate from an investigation into the leak itself. The documents also overstated American estimates of Ukrainian war dead.
Ukraine’s leaders held a meeting Friday at the Ukrainian headquarters of the armed forces supreme command to discuss the leaked documents detailing U.S. and NATO plans to help the country’s counteroffensive against Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attended the meeting but made no mention of a leak.
The military information was reportedly posted on social media, The New York Times reported.
In an interview with VOA’s Ukrainian Service, Mykhailo Podolyak, the adviser to the head of the office of the president of Ukraine, said the source of this doctored leak could only be the intelligence of the Russian Federation because of the skewed numbers included in Russia’s favor. Podolyak added that he does not see any risks from the publication of this information, including the distorted information about the plans the General Staff of Ukraine is developing. “They are irrelevant to what will work in a month or at a certain time when these scenarios will be implemented on the battlefield,” he said.
The Times wrote Thursday that the documents did not reveal when or where the offensive would take place but that the leak could affect trust between the allies as it gave timetables for the delivery of weaponry and the training of Ukrainian troops by the West.
The newspaper added that U.S. officials were working to get the posts taken down.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Asked to comment, a Pentagon spokesperson said by email, “We are aware of the reports of social media posts and the department is reviewing the matter.”
Black Sea Grain Initiative impasse
Russia warned Friday that it would not renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed by the Kremlin, Ukraine, Turkey and the U.N. last July unless Moscow’s terms are fulfilled.
The deal allows Ukraine — one of the world’s top grain producers — to export grain through a safe corridor in the Black Sea. According to official data, more than 27 million tons of grain and other foodstuffs have been exported from Ukraine aboard 881 outbound vessels since the initiative began last August. According to the U.N., continuing the deal is vital to averting a world food crisis. The deal has been extended twice, the last time for 60 days instead of the 120 days that had been agreed initially.
Moscow is complaining that its side of the agreement, promising the right to export fertilizer and other agricultural products, is not being honored.
At a news conference in Ankara, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov threatened to abandon the agreement. Moscow is calling on the West to remove obstacles to Russian agricultural exports, allow a resumption in supplies of agricultural machinery and parts, lift restrictions on insurance and reinsurance and unblock assets and accounts of Russian companies involved in food and fertilizer exports. Lavrov said that Russian grain and fertilizer exports were affected by a lack of access to insurance and to the SWIFT financial messaging system.
Lavrov said that if those terms are not honored, Russia would bypass the U.N.-brokered initiative exporting products and Ukraine would have to use land and river routes for its exports.
Meanwhile, anger is rising among farmers in central and eastern Europe over a high influx of cheap Ukrainian grain imports, exempt from customs fees until June 2024, which have hurt prices and sales of local producers.
In Romania, thousands of farmers held protests Friday, blocking traffic and border checkpoints with tractors and trucks and urging the European Commission to intervene.
Polish and Bulgarian farmers have also held protests, and Polish Agriculture Minister Henryk Kowalczyk resigned from his post this week. His replacement, Robert Telus, said Friday that Poland will temporarily halt imports of Ukrainian grain to mitigate the impact on prices, but he added, transit will still be allowed.
Bakhmut at risk
Russia has recently regained some “momentum” in the battle for Bakhmut, the British Defense Ministry said Friday in its daily intelligence update on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The report said Russian forces have “highly likely advanced” into the town center of Bakhmut and have seized the west bank of the Bakhmutka River. The update also reported that Wagner forces and Russian Defense Ministry commanders “have paused their ongoing feud and improved cooperation.”
Gershkovich charged with espionage
Russian Federal Security Service investigators have formally charged Evan Gershkovich with espionage. “Gershkovich has been charged,” Interfax quoted a source as saying. The Wall Street Journal reporter denied all the charges and said he was working as a journalist, Russian news agencies reported Friday.
Russia’s Federal Security Service opened an espionage case against the 31-year-old for collecting what it said were state secrets about the military industrial complex in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.
Gershkovich is the first American journalist detained in Russia on espionage charges since the end of the Cold War. The United States cast the Russian claims of espionage as ridiculous. U.S. President Joe Biden has called for Gershkovich’s release.
Macron counts on China to help end Russia’s war
French President Emmanuel Macron has encouraged Chinese President Xi Jinping to use Beijing’s relationship with Moscow to help bring an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Macron told Xi as they met Thursday in Beijing that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has harmed international stability.
Xi told journalists that “together with France, we appeal for restraint and reason” in the 14-month conflict, adding that China was seeking “a quick return to peace negotiations in the quest for a political settlement and the building of a European architecture that is balanced and lasting.”
The Chinese leader said his government “appeals for the protection of civilians. Nuclear weapons must not be used, and nuclear war must be avoided.”