US seeks to reassure allies after secret documents leak


Top US diplomat Antony Blinken and defense chief Lloyd Austin spoke with their Ukrainian counterparts on Tuesday as Washington seeks to reassure its allies after a leaked trove of highly sensitive documents appeared online.

The breach — which has sparked a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice — includes classified information about Ukraine’s battle against invading Russian forces, as well as secret assessments of US allies.

A document reviewed by AFP highlighted US concerns about Ukraine’s capacity to keep defending against Russian strikes, while the Washington Post reported that another expressed doubts about the success of an upcoming offensive by Kiev’s forces.

“We have engaged with allies and partners at high levels over the past days, including to reassure them about our own commitment to safeguarding intelligence,” Blinken told a news conference on Tuesday.

Blinken said he had spoken with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and “reaffirmed our enduring support for Ukraine and for its efforts to defend its territorial integrity, its sovereignty, its independence.”

Austin, speaking alongside Blinken, said he had also talked to his counterpart in Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov.

“He and the leadership remain focused on the task at hand,” Austin said, noting that “they have much of the capability that they need to continue to be successful.”

Ukraine is expected to launch an attack on invading Russian troops in the spring — its first major military push of the year.

But one top secret document said tough Russian defenses and “enduring Ukrainian deficiencies in training and munitions supplies probably will strain progress and exacerbate casualties during the offensive,” the Post reported. 

A document reviewed by AFP — this one marked “secret” — detailed the dire state of Ukrainian air defenses, which have been instrumental in protecting against Russian strikes and preventing Moscow’s forces from gaining control of the skies.

Ukraine’s international supporters have worked to beef up the country’s air defenses, providing a mix of cutting edge and older technology to create multi-layered defenses that protect against attacks at different altitudes.

But the document dated February 2023 — the authenticity of which could not immediately be confirmed — said that 89 percent of Ukrainian medium and high-range air defenses was made up of SA-10 and SA-11 Soviet-era systems that could soon run short of ammunition.

Based on munitions use at the time, the document projected that Ukraine’s SA-11s would be out of missiles by late March, and its SA-10s by early May.

Ukraine’s ability to provide medium-range air defenses to protect the front line “will be completely reduced by May 23,” the document said.

The Post reported that another document said Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered the production of 40,000 rockets for shipment to Russia, telling officials to keep it secret to “avoid problems with the West.”

White House national security spokesman John Kirby pushed back against the report.

“We’ve seen no indication that Egypt is providing lethal weaponry capabilities to Russia,” Kirby told reporters. “Egypt is a significant security partner and remains so.”

Dozens of photographs of documents — some of which also point to US spying on allies and partners including Israel, South Korea and Ukraine — have been found on Twitter, Telegram, Discord and other sites in recent days, though some may have been circulating online for some time.

Many of the documents are no longer available on the sites where they first appeared, and the United States is reportedly working to have them removed.

The fallout from the apparent leak could be significant — even deadly — potentially putting US intelligence sources at risk, while giving the country’s foes valuable information.

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