Ukraine is at the centre of a major leak of classified Pentagon documents, suspected to have been leaked by a 21-year-old US National Guard airman online.
The leaks include details about the West’s military assistance to Ukraine, such as weapons deliveries and training, and dire assessments of the war by US officials, making public concerns that for some time had been discussed in private.
The timing of the leaks is sensitive for Kyiv, as the military is expected to launch a counter-offensive within weeks, in what is likely to be a crucial phase in the nearly 14-month-long war that is believed to have killed tens of thousands of people. One leaked document warned that only modest territorial gains could be achieved in Russian-occupied areas.
While the revelations have not attracted significant media coverage, President Volodymyr Zelensky has talked openly about ammunition and weapons shortages for months.
The leaks have not affected relations between the two countries, as one senior Ukrainian official, who spoke anonymously, said that the problems faced by the army were already known.
In an attempt to reassure their allies in Kyiv, Biden administration officials have emphasized their enduring support despite the leaks.
Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said the Ukrainian military had “much of the capability that they need to continue to be successful”.
However, the leaks have raised concerns about delays in the delivery of aid promised by Western countries, as the Ukrainian army grapples with difficulties in mobilizing fresh troops.
The documents, which are from February and March, reveal the timeline for the training of Ukrainian brigades, details about tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery pieces being provided by Western countries, and concerns that Kyiv might run out of critical missiles for its vital air defense systems.
The front lines have remained largely static since Ukraine recaptured the southern city of Kherson, in November, and nearly a fifth of the country remains under occupation.
In Russia, the deputy foreign minister suggested the documents that have appeared online might be an intentional US leak aimed at deceiving Moscow as part of a “hybrid war”.
The main suspect, Jack Teixeira, a junior member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, has been accused of the unauthorised removal and retention of classified documents and the unauthorised retention and transmission of national defence information.
Despite the sensitive nature of the leaked documents, few Ukrainian officials have reacted in public to the leaks, with top officials in Kyiv shrugging them off.
The leaks have not affected Ukraine’s plans for its much-discussed counter-offensive, which is still expected to take place within weeks.