Classified war documents detailing secret American and NATO plans for building up the Ukrainian military ahead of a planned offensive against Russia were posted this week on social media channels, senior Biden administration officials said, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
The Pentagon is investigating who may have been behind the leak of the documents, which appeared on Twitter and on Telegram, a platform with more than half a billion users that is widely available in Russia.
One document appears to detail the expenditure rates of HIMARS artillery systems provided by the US, information that has been a closely guarded secret, while another describes the state of a dozen Ukrainian combat brigades, including their equipment and dates for when they might be ready to take on Russian forces, the Times noted.
“We are aware of the reports of social media posts and the department is reviewing the matter,” a Pentagon spokesperson told the Times.
But experts have cautioned that the documents, while seemingly authentic, may have been altered for propaganda purposes.
One slide, purportedly from a presentation, provides an estimate for Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine – as many as 17,500, it states – that is well below the figure Western governments have cited publicly.
The British defence ministry, for example, said in February that between 40,000 and 60,000 Russian soldiers had likely been killed since President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.
“They’ve obviously been doctored,” Michael Weiss, a Russia expert and senior correspondent at Yahoo News, posted on social media. “Still bad that they were leaked – or stolen.”