Published: 20:47 BST, 8 April 2023 | Updated: 23:58 BST, 8 April 2023
A trove of leaked documents has revealed the depth of America’s spying apparatus around the world, detailing how the US continues to infiltrate allied nations amid heightening global tensions.
The documents, which provided the clearest picture yet of the Kremlin’s depleted military capacity, were telling as to the extent to which US espionage tactics have effectively penetrated Vladimir Putin‘s war machine.
However, the intelligence breach, which included reports from late February to early March but have only been leaked online in recent days, also unearthed probes in a variety of nations, including South Korea, Iran and the UK, per the Wall Street Journal.
Now, US military officials are able to provide real-time warnings to their Ukrainian counterparts about impending strikes in exact locations, indicating exhaustive intelligence gathering in the region.
While the breach underscored America’s ability to infiltrate Moscow’s upper echelons, it has also sparked fears that Russian intelligence may now have a clearer understanding of exactly what the US does and does not already understand, providing an opportunity to cut off sources of information.
The leak comes amid speculation that a wave of classified document breaches could be being orchestrated by Russia, in what was described by a senior intelligence official as ‘a nightmare for the Five Eyes’ – a reference to the intelligence sharing agreement between the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Joe Biden, seen in Washington DC on Tuesday. His administration confirmed the leaked documents were real, but said some aspects had been doctored
The documents revealed the extent to which US officials have penetrated Russian intelligence. Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 6, 2023
Notably, the documents covered intimate details about the spread of US military spying across the globe. Per multiple reports, this included classified information about Iran’s nuclear program and North Korea’s missile systems.
In Ukraine, the documents suggested a misalignment between US and Ukrainian military strategies, with intelligence reports appearing to show the US continues to spy on top military and political leaders in the region.
American officials told the New York Times that while the leak underscores the Pentagon’s capacity to collect information on Russia’s strategies, it remains to be seen whether their sources of information will be hampered by the revelations.
Officials told the outlet that the Pentagon has issued a swift lock down of sensitive briefing documents following the leak.
However, the scandal is already being noted as one of the most damaging national security breaches in recent memory, which may have further implications into the legitimacy of US espionage into the future.
Per the outlet, a senior Western intelligence official said the release could curb intelligence sharing between agencies, as trust over secretive information collaborations could be lost.
Assurances over the validity of the US military’s spying apparatus is set to be further disrupted by revelations that America’s focus extends far beyond its Russian enemies.
Allied nations, such as South Korea, have also reportedly been the subject of spying by the Pentagon, raising questions as to the diplomatic impact the leak could have at a time of deteriorating global ties.
The intelligence breach could have a drastic impact upon the landscape of the conflict in Ukraine. US President Biden, left, is pictured meeting Ukrainian President Zelensky on February 20, 2023
The document leak indicates that the US has been spying on Ukrainian allied officials. Pictured: A Ukrainian serviceman in training exercises in Donetsk
The documents, which were posted on social media sites including Twitter, Discord and Telegram, have also highlighted the devastating impact the war in Ukraine has had on both sides of the conflict.
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.
But with Russian forces also found to be struggling, reports indicate a renewed push backed by western forces in the coming months.
One of the leaks, reportedly posted to Telegram, detailed ‘a secret plan to prepare and equip nine brigades of the Amed Forces of Ukraine by the US and NATO for the spring offensive.’
The Biden administration has not denied the legitimacy of the leak, but it did claim that certain documents had been doctored.
An FBI probe was launched Friday to determine the source of the leak, however a senior official told The New York Times that tracking down the perpetrator could prove difficult because a large number of officials have the security clearances needed to access the information.
According to the Wall Street Journal, US officials scrambled Saturday to assess the potential fallout of the scandal.
A wide-ranging, multi-agency investigation into the intelligence breach is set to be escalated, with officials reportedly fearing that US national security matters could be significantly compromised.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pictured at the Pentagon on March 30, 2023
The documents have revealed the efficacy of US efforts to infiltrate Russian intelligence. Pictured: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, April 6, 2023
On Friday, a series of documents were posted on controversial message board 4Chan that covered both the war efforts in Ukraine as well as operations in China and the Middle East.
The reports included photographs of charts of weapons that are set to be transported to Ukraine, alongside determinations into the strength of ground troops in the region.
Among the documents leaked Friday was a map depicting the impact of the war in the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, which has been the center of fierce fighting for six months.
It was not clear if the map had been altered, as American authorities have claimed about some of the leaked information.
However, the day before, another image circulated online appeared to have exaggerated the scale of Ukrainian deaths and minimized the Russian losses.
While claiming that 16,000 to 17,500 Russian soldiers had been killed, the slide alleged that Ukraine had suffered as many as 71,500 troop deaths.
The Pentagon and other analysts estimate that Russia has seen approximately 200,000 killed and injured – double the figure for Ukraine.
The leaked documents also referred to U.S. analysis of the situation in the Middle East and China, and terrorist threats worldwide.