Ukraine update: Pentagon leaks exposed allies’ lethal aid contributions to Kyiv

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News

 

Days after highly classified U.S. intelligence documents were leaked on social media, U.S. allies are already experiencing potentially catastrophic effects, leading to concerns that Washington will be viewed as untrustworthy to guard sensitive information.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that the leaks included a document that exposed the “assessed positions” of 38 European governments on providing military assistance, including lethal aid, to Ukraine.

Serbia, which has endeavored to portray itself as being neutral in the conflict, was outed as a supplier or potential supplier of lethal aid to Ukraine, according to a document titled “Europe/Response to Ongoing Russia-Ukraine Conflict.” The document, dated March 2, is marked “Secret” and “NOFORN” (not releasable to foreign nationals). It is stamped with the seal of the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The U.S. and its European allies have avoided or sought to downplay the provision of deadly weapons to Kyiv with the understanding that doing so could provoke Russia into drawing NATO into a third World War. 

Pentagon and State Department officials are still scrambling to identify the source of the leaks and mitigate damages resulting from the unprecedent exposure of intelligence weaknesses.

“We will continue to investigate and turn over every rock until we find the source of this and the extent of it,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday during a press conference at the State Department, per Reuters.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns called the leaks “deeply unfortunate” while speaking at Rice University in Texas later in the day. Burns described investigations into the leaks as “quite intense” but did not elaborate further.

“We need to learn lessons from that, as well, about how we can tighten procedures,” he said.

WAGNER GROUP ACCUSED OF BEHEADING UKRAINIAN TROOPS

Russia’s contracted Wagner Group mercenaries have again been accused of committing war crimes in Ukraine with the emergence of a video purporting to show the head of a Ukrainian soldier displayed on a spike. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in a recent assessment of the war that the video was filmed at an undisclosed location in Bakhmut. The Washington D.C.-based think tank said that videos appear to show “the remains of a head belonging to a Ukrainian serviceman.”

“Social media users recalled similar instances of skulls mounted on spikes in Popasna, Luhansk Oblast, where Wagner troops operated over spring-summer of 2022,” the assessment read. The ISW noted that wartime abuse of corpses is prohibited by the Geneva Convention.

Reuters reported in January 2023 that former Wagner Commander Andrei Medvedev said that he saw two men shot in front of a group of released convict recruits for refusing to fight. Medvedev fled the war to seek asylum in Norway and said that he wanted to share his experiences so “the perpetrators are punished.”

Wagner forces have also been accused of human rights violations in other countries, according to Newsweek. The United Nations (U.N.) in January called for an investigation into possible international war crimes committed by Wagner in Mali, where the group has been engaging in joint operations with the Malian military. 

The U.N. cited “alarming accounts of horrific executions, mass graves, acts of torture, rape, and sexual violence, pillaging, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances” in its report.

The White House designated the Wagner Group as a transitional criminal organization in January 2023, per The New York Times.

RUSSIA MOVES TO DIGITIZE MILITARY DRAFT NOTICES 

Russian lawmakers on Tuesday approved a bill to speed up military conscriptions and crack down on draft dodgers with the use of electronic military conscription notices. 

The Associated Press reported that the Russian State Duma voted to pass the bill that has been sent to the upper house of parliament for approval. The legislation, which is expected to pass, will then be sent to the desk of Russian President Vladimir Putin for his signature before taking effect.

The digitization of conscription notices will close a legal loophole that allowed men to avoid previous conscription efforts. The current military service rules require in-person delivery of draft notices, which many Russians managed to circumvent by staying away from their homes. The new legislation would validate conscription notices as soon as they are typed into a portal for electronic services.

The ISW said that individuals who fail to report for military service under the new rules will be prohibited from “driving vehicles, buying or selling real estate, and taking out loans.”

The bill’s introduction comes as Russia braces for a Ukrainian spring counteroffensive. It is no secret that Moscow has suffered heavy troop losses which have hampered its military objectives in Ukraine. 

DONATE NOW