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Pentagon Leak Reinforces We What Already Know: US-NATO in it to Win

The documents on the war in Ukraine leaked from the Pentagon and other U.S. security bodies only confirm what anyone paying attention already knew: that the United States and NATO are massively and critically involved in arming and training Ukraine, and providing detailed intelligence to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Without this help, Ukraine might perhaps be able to stand on the defensive, but it could never hope to launch its planned offensive to recapture the remaining territory lost to Russia. According to the leaked documents, the Pentagon has assessed the most favorable moment for this offensive as mid-May, once the mud created by Spring rains has dried out (and as I can testify from my own trip to Ukraine last month, mud is still a really serious obstacle to movement there).

Nonetheless, the leak provides some interesting granular detail, which with one exception, appears to be genuine. Figures were apparently doctored to make U.S. estimates show higher Ukrainian and lower Russian casualties. But this is a relatively unimportant point, since the documents themselves state that the casualty assessments are of low reliability — as I have found myself in trying to form even a very rough estimate of Ukrainian losses.

The authenticity of the documents has been acknowledged by Pentagon sources, and the Department of Justice has launched an investigation into who was responsible for the leak. Among the details revealed are that nine out of twelve “combat credible” Ukrainian brigades being prepared for the forthcoming offensive are fully trained and equipped by NATO. Training for these troops is being provided not only in the West but by 71 U.S. military personnel who are stationed within Ukraine, together with 97 NATO special operations soldiers.

These numbers are very small, they are not combat units and the leak only confirms what most observers have long assumed. Nonetheless, their presence does obviously create a risk that they will be killed or captured, thereby handing Russia a propaganda victory and creating an impetus to U.S. retaliation and a dangerous cycle of escalation.

It is also important to point out that the American Congress and public, and those of NATO allies, have never been informed that any U.S. and NATO soldiers are on the ground in Ukraine. The French government has denied the suggestion in the documents that French special forces soldiers are present there. This part of the leaked documents raises serious issues of legality and democratic accountability, which Western governments should investigate.

The great success of Ukrainian anti-missile fire against Russian bombardment of Ukrainian infrastructure (to which I can also attest having experienced this in Zaporizhia) has cost the Ukrainians a very large proportion of their Soviet-era S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. The Pentagon documents state that Ukraine may run out of these this month.

This creates a dilemma for the United States, which will either have very quickly to provide Ukraine with many more Patriot missile defense systems — thereby severely depleting its own limited reserves — or risk seeing more Ukrainian infrastructure destroyed; though from my own observations and interviews in Ukraine, the effectiveness of Russia’s bombardment is also seriously limited by the inaccuracy of its missiles, and its apparently limited numbers of heavy ground-attack weapons.

The documents reveal something about the extent and success of U.S. espionage against Russia, especially in the area of signals intelligence. They also hint at U.S. spying against close allies, including South Korea and the United Kingdom. Once again, this is not surprising, given how the United States was once shown to have spied on the private communications of Angela Merkel and other European leaders.

However, it is worth remembering how news of Russian espionage in the United States and Europe was repeatedly used in the years before the war to whip up fear of and hostility to Russia in the West, thereby making it even more difficult to seek diplomatic compromises that might have prevented the Russian invasion. The leaked documents remind us that in this regard there is a strong element of the pot calling the kettle black.

Source : Responsible Statecraft