The Justice Department has launched an investigation into the possible release of Pentagon documents that were posted on multiple social media sites and published in the US and NATO help ukraineBut it may have been altered or used as part of a disinformation campaign.
The documents, which were posted on sites such as Twitter, are labeled secret and are similar to regular updates that the US military’s Joint Staff would produce daily but not distribute publicly. They are dated February 23 to March 1, and provide details on the progress of weapons and equipment moving to Ukraine, with more precise timelines and quantities than the US typically provides publicly.
They are not war plans and they do not provide any details on any planned Ukraine offensive. And some inaccuracies — including estimates of the deaths of Russian troops that are far lower than numbers publicly stated by US officials — have led some to question the documents’ authenticity.
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Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said in a statement Friday that the Defense Department made a “formal reference” of the matter to the Justice Department for investigation. And the Justice Department said in a separate statement Friday, “We are in contact with the Department of Defense regarding this matter and have launched an investigation.”
The investigation comes as questions continue to swirl about the origin and validity of the documents, and as reports suggest more have started appearing on social media sites.
“It is very important to remember that in recent decades, the most successful operations of the Russian special services have been taking place in Photoshop,” Andrey Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate, said on Ukrainian TV. “From a preliminary analysis of these materials, we see false, distorted data on losses on both sides, with part of the information collected from open sources.”
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Separately, however, the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky released a statement on Friday about the meeting with his senior military staff, noting that “the participants of the meeting have discussed the leakage of information about the plans of the defense forces”. Focused on measures to prevent. of Ukraine.
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If the published documents are to any degree authentic, however, the leak of classified data is troubling and raises questions about whether other information about the Ukraine war _ or any offensive _ could be distributed. US officials offered no clarity on Friday about the origin of the documents, their authenticity, or exactly who was the first to post them online.
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The New York Times was the first to report about the documents. Later Friday, the Times reported that more documents related to Ukraine as well as other sensitive national security topics such as China and the Middle East began appearing on social media.
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A US official said the initial document matched data produced daily by the Joint Staff, although some numbers were incorrect. The official said, even if they are legitimate, the US believes there is little real intelligence value to the documents, as much of it is information Russia would already know or could obtain from the battlefield . The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence documents.
Charts and graphs describe some of the battlefield situation on both sides a month ago, US troop movements during the past 24 hours, personnel numbers, and local weather outlooks.
But there are errors. Under a section titled “Total Estimated Losses”, one document lists 16,000–17,500 Russian casualties and 71,000 Ukrainian casualties. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said publicly last November that Russia had lost more than 100,000 soldiers, and that Ukraine had lost roughly the same number. And those estimates have continued to rise in recent months, although officials have stopped short of providing more precise numbers.
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