Leaked Pentagon papers predict Ukrainian's air defenses will be exhausted by MAY 23

Leaked Pentagon papers predict Ukrainian's air defenses will be exhausted by MAY 23, leaving Putin free to send in fighter jets - as it's feared latest $2bn US aid won't be enough to save Zelensky's army. 

Ukraine's air defense systems could be depleted by the beginning of next month amid heavy fighting against Russian forces, according to what appear to be leaked Pentagon documents.

A large cache of highly classified Pentagon documents that appear to detail classified information including how Ukraine's S-300 air defense systems could run out of missiles and ammunition by May 2 at the current usage rate have appeared online in recent days.

The documents also detailed how Ukraine's air defenses protecting Ukrainian troops on the front line could be 'completely reduced' by May 23.

The Justice Department has now launched a criminal investigation into the possible release of the Top Secret documents, which mostly pertain to the state of the Ukraine war.

An initial batch of documents labeled 'Secret' and 'Top Secret' - reportedly containing charts on the war in Ukraine as well as the strengths of different battalions - first circulated on Twitter and Russian Telegram channels last month.

And a further batch of documents of more than 100 Pentagon documents - this time also detailing US national security interests pertaining to areas including China and Israel's Mossad spy agency - was being shared on Twitter on Friday, the New York Times reported.

The authenticity of the documents is still in doubt as experts suggest they could have been altered or used as a misinformation campaign to suit Russia's agenda. They pointed to how some of the documents giving battlefield casualty estimates from Ukraine were altered to minimize Russian losses.

One of the documents, dated February 23 and marked 'Secret,' outlines in detail how Ukraine's S-300 air defense systems would be depleted by May 2 at the current usage rate

These are two of the leaked documents which have been shared by the New York Times

This document appears to show the state of Ukraine's air defenses in February, and in May when it is anticipated they'll be badly depleted

In the early days of the war, Ukraine relied on the these air defense weapons - S-300 and the Buk to target aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles - which make up 89 percent of Ukraine's protection against fighter aircraft.

This allowed Ukraine to focus on battling against Putin's ground troops, who have faced heavy losses since the war began. But the Russian despot has held his air force of 485 fighter jets back - far more than the 85 Ukraine has in its military.

'[Russia] made the choice that they were not going to sacrifice their knights for their pawns,' Dara Massicot, a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, told the NYT.

'Instead, they're going to throw those mobilized troops without proper air support, because they're a more plentiful resource.'

Russia's fleet also includes far more sophisticated fifth generation planes including the Su-57, while Ukraine's pilots have to make do with MiG-29s, which first flew in 1983.

If Ukraine can no longer defend its skies, Putin could ramp up fighter jet attacks on Zelensky's forces, dramatically tilting the 15 month-long conflict in his favor.

While US officials have said those running the investigation have not ruled out the possibility that pro-Russian elements were behind the leak, some experts have said the source could be American.

Officials say the breadth of topics addressed in the documents, which touch on the war in Ukraine, China, the Middle East and Africa, suggest they may have been leaked by an American rather than an ally.

'The focus now is on this being a U.S. leak, as many of the documents were only in U.S. hands,' Michael Mulroy, a former senior Pentagon official, said.

But two US officials said on Sunday that they have not ruled out that the documents may have been doctored to mislead investigators as to their origin or to disseminate false information that may harm U.S. security interests.

Some inaccuracies - including estimates of Russian troops deaths that are significantly lower than numbers publicly stated by U.S. officials - have led some to question the documents' authenticity.

'It is very important to remember that in recent decades, the Russian special services' most successful operations have been taking place in Photoshop,' Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine's military intelligence directorate, said on Ukrainian TV.

'From a preliminary analysis of these materials, we see false, distorted figures on losses on both sides, with part of the information collected from open sources.'

In a statement on Sunday, the Pentagon said it was reviewing the validity of the photographed documents that 'appear to contain sensitive and highly classified material.'

US officials told the Washington Post that some documents appeared to have been manipulated but many were consistent with CIA World Intelligence Review reports that are shared at high levels within the White House, Pentagon and State Department.

Defense analysts say any breach of internal classified US documents would be both damaging and potentially embarrassing.

In addition, the leak would prove valuable to Moscow by showing how deep US intelligence has penetrated parts of the Russian military apparatus,

One document marked 'Top Secret' and from a CIA Intel update from March 1, says the Mossad intelligence agency was encouraging protests against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to tighten controls on the Supreme Court.

Putin could decide that it is now safe enough to send in Russia's 'valuable and numerous fighter jets and bombers to attack Ukrainian positions and artillery'

The document said the U.S. learned this through signals intelligence, suggesting the United States had been spying on one of its most important allies in the Middle East.

In a statement on Sunday, Netanyahu's office described the assertion as 'mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever.'

Another document gave details of internal discussions among senior South Korean officials about U.S. pressure on Seoul to help supply weapons to Ukraine, and its policy of not doing so.

The office of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Monday that fact checks on the documents are a priority and that it would request the U.S. to take 'appropriate' steps after confirming details.

Yoon's office said the possibility that the documents were fabricated or a product of third-party interference cannot be ruled out, warning any attempts to 'disrupt the alliance would face repercussions'.

Some lawmakers of South Korea's main opposition Democratic Party expressed 'strong regret' over the spying allegations, calling them a clear violation of national sovereignty and a major security failure of the Yoon administration.

'We strongly demand a thorough investigation and urge that similar incidents do not occur,' the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

The Pentagon has not addressed the contents of any specific documents, including the apparent surveillance of allies.

Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that while there was concern about the leak at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, the documents showed a snapshot in time from more than a month ago, rather than more recent assessments.

The two officials said the military and intelligence agencies were looking at their processes for how widely some of the intelligence is shared internally.

One U.S. official said the initial documents resemble data produced daily by the Joint Staff, although some numbers are wrong.

Even if they were legitimate, the official said, the U.S. believes there is little real intelligence value to the documents, since much of it is information Russia would already know or could glean from the battlefield.

The charts and graphs describe some battlefield status of both sides from a month ago, U.S. military movements during the previous 24 hours, personnel numbers and the local weather outlook.

But there are errors. Under a section titled 'Total Assessed Losses,' one document lists 16,000-17,500 Russian casualties and up to 71,000 Ukrainian casualties.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said publicly last November that Russia has lost 'well over' 100,000 soldiers, and Ukraine had lost about that many also. And those estimates have continued to climb in recent months, although officials have stopped providing more exact numbers.

Officials are looking at what motivations a U.S. official or a group of officials would have in leaking such sensitive information, said one of the officials who spoke to Reuters.

The official said investigators were looking at four or five theories, from a disgruntled employee to an insider threat who actively wanted to undermine U.S. national security interests.

Meanwhile, one U.S. military official said that providing air defense system reinforcements to Ukraine is key in helping the country regain territory in its planned spring counteroffensive.

Because according to the leaked documents, their stockpile is rapidly depleting, which in turn, opens up a window for Russian planes to attack.

Putin could decide that it is now safe enough to send in Russia's 'valuable and numerous fighter jets and bombers to attack Ukrainian positions and artillery,' senior Pentagon officials said, according to the New York Times.

'Russia still remains a bit fearful of flying into Ukraine because there's still a fair amount of density of Ukrainian kit,' U.S. General Philip Breedlove told the NYT.

Such a move could be a risky one for Putin.

'Just because he brings it back in play doesn't mean it's going to have smashing success,' General Breedlove said.

Another report of the leaked documents has the number of Russian fighter jets currently deployed in Ukraine at 485 compared with 85 Ukrainian jets

However, European countries have stepped up efforts to reinforce the country's air defenses, providing missiles for Ukraine's existing systems, like its Soviet-era S-300s. Pictured: A Ukrainian Airforce MIG 29 perform during the annual Air Show in 2016

Officials say it's not clear if the additional aid the US is sending will be enough, and say it depends on whether Putin continues to hold back his warplanes and if NATO allies make their own deliveries, the NYT reported.

In November, Ukraine received a National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) which is produced by both the United States and Norway.

NASAMS include a radar, sensors, launchers that can be loaded with six missiles each and a mobile command center where soldiers can monitor airborne threats.

But western countries have also began providing Kyiv with more sophisticated systems - including German who sent IRIS-T air defense batteries, which each consist of a radar, a command-and-control system and three missile launchers, carrying a total of 24 missiles, the NYT reported.

Some officials have expressed concern about Ukraine's low stockpile.

Another report of the leaked documents has the number of Russian fighter jets currently deployed in Ukraine at 485 compared with 85 Ukrainian jets.

However, European countries have stepped up efforts to reinforce the country's air defenses, providing missiles for Ukraine's existing systems, like its Soviet-era S-300s.

Despite the Biden administration pouring almost $200 billion into the Ukrainian military, the leak revealed that its stockpiles are severely depleted and it is low on air defense ammunition

The trove of leaked Pentagon documents suggests the US knows far more about Russia's war campaign than Ukraine's - despite funding the latter to the tune of $200 billion.

The documents, which were leaked online in recent days, portray the Russian military as struggling in their war with Ukraine, which has killed hundreds of thousands.

Intelligence agencies are believed to have comprehensively infiltrated Russia's military and its leading spy agencies, offering considerable knowledge of upcoming maneuvers, as well as insights into how badly Putin's war is going.

But the same cannot be said for Ukraine, according to the New York Times. The paper reported that 'The United States has a clearer understanding of Russian military operations than it does of Ukrainian planning.'

US officials have allegedly resorted to spying on Ukraine itself to try and get an idea of their military plans.

America also remains unsure of the total number of Ukrainian casualties - with the documents stating only that Zelensky's forces have suffered 124,500 to 131,000 casualties, and 17,500 dead.

Even then, intelligence officials say confidence in the accuracy of those figures are low.

The United States has devoted most of its considerable spying resources to hindering Putin's efforts and helping Ukraine.

But its spies have also been eavesdropping on allies, including Ukraine itself, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Israel.

The Times reported that Ukraine is being spied on in the hopes of getting a clearer picture of its military strategies, to try and help maximize the effectiveness of its army against Putin.

That comes despite the US spending $200 billion on advanced military hardware and spying equipment for Ukraine, with the cash credited for helping the country successfully hold-off Russian advances far longer than anyone thought necessary.

And while support for funding Ukraine continues to have bipartisan support, news that US officials are often in the dark could raise questions over the sheer amount of resources that the White House continues to send to Eastern Europe.

The documents, which included reports from late February to early March, also unearthed probes in several other nations, including South Korea, Iran and the UK

The documents have revealed the efficacy of US efforts to infiltrate Russian intelligence. 

The 100 pages of documents, at least some of which are believed to be accurate, were leaked on a Discord server earlier this year.

They've triggered panic at the Pentagon, and a huge effort to work out where the leak is coming from.

Ukraine has suggested they're not real, but Pentagon officials are said to be treating them as genuine, exposing another schism between the US and its costly ally.

They also appear to show that the intelligence services have been compromised as some reports contain daily real-time warnings on the timing and targets of Moscow's strikes - which has enabled the U.S. to warn their Ukrainian counterparts.

The documents - while up to several months old - offer detailed insights into which Russian intelligence agencies have been most compromised, and clues as to how the United States has gleaned so much secret Kremlin information.

Leaked documents suggest the U.S. knows more about Putin's war operations than Zelensky's, which raises questions over the $200 billion in military aid that has been sent to Ukraine.

The document leak indicates that the US has been spying on Ukrainian allied officials. 


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