The Defense Department is reviewing documents released by several social media websites that appear to describe U.S. aid and NATO assistance to Ukraine. However, these documents may have been altered and used in a misinformation effort.
These documents were labeled as secret, and they resemble the daily updates that U.S. Joint Staff produces but does not release publicly. The documents, which range in date from February 23 to March 1, appear to provide more details about the progress and amount of weapons and equipment being sent to Ukraine than the U.S. usually provides publicly.
These documents are not war plans, and they do not provide any details about a planned offensive in Ukraine. Some have questioned the authenticity of these documents because they contain inaccuracies, including an estimate for Russian troop deaths that is significantly lower than what U.S. officials publicly state.
Andriy Yosov said, "It's important to remember that the Russian special service's most successful operations in recent decades have taken place in Photoshop," Andriy, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Military Intelligence Directorate, told Ukrainian TV. "We see that the figures are distorted and false on both sides. Part of this information was collected from public sources," said Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine's military intelligence directorate.
The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy released a separate statement on Friday regarding a meeting that he held with his senior military personnel. It noted that the participants "focused on measures to stop the leakage information about the plans of Ukraine's defense forces."
The leakage of classified information is disturbing if the documents are genuine. It raises concerns about other information that could be released about the Ukraine War or any upcoming offensive. U.S. officials did not provide any clarification on Friday regarding the origin, authenticity or first poster of the documents.
The New York Times reported the documents first. The Times reported on Friday that, later in the day, more documents related to Ukraine and other sensitive national security issues such as China or the Middle East began appearing on social media.
Sabrina Singh is a Pentagon spokesperson who would only confirm that the Department of Defense was reviewing the social media posts.
The Justice Department issued a statement on Friday night stating, "We are in contact with the Department of Defense regarding this matter and we have started an investigation."
A U.S. official stated that the documents are similar to the data produced by the Joint Staff every day, but some numbers may be incorrect. The official stated that even if the documents were genuine, they would have little intelligence value, as much of the information is already known by Russia or can be gleaned from the battlefield. The official spoke under condition of anonymity in order to discuss intelligence documents.
The charts and graphs show the battlefield situation of both sides a month earlier, the U.S. military's movements in the past 24 hours, the number of personnel and the local weather forecast.
There are mistakes. In a section called "Total assessed losses," one document lists up to 71,000 Ukrainian and 16,000-17.500 Russian casualties. Gen. Mark Milley of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in November last year that Russia had suffered "well over" 100,000 casualties, while Ukraine also lost a similar number. These estimates have continued rising in recent months, despite the fact that officials no longer provide exact numbers.