(Washington) American foreign and defense chiefs spoke with their Ukrainian counterparts on Tuesday as the United States seeks to reassure its allies, including Kyiv, after the leak of classified American intelligence documents.
While declining to comment on the authenticity or content of the documents, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to signal “continued support” from the United States.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also said he spoke with his counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov, reiterating that Washington is taking the leak of classified documents “very seriously”.
According to press reports and documents seen by AFP on Tuesday, US intelligence has raised doubts about a potential Ukrainian counter-offensive that could only achieve “modest territorial gains” against Russian forces.
The classified documents are among those that surfaced online after a leak revealed by The New York Times on Thursday that the Pentagon deemed posed a “very serious risk” to US national security.
“I was first briefed on the unauthorized release of these classified and sensitive documents on the morning of April 6,” said Austin, who was speaking at a joint news conference in Washington with the Philippine foreign and defense ministers.
“Since then, I have invited department officials daily to review our response and ordered an internal investigation,” he said, recalling that the Justice Department had opened a criminal investigation.
“We take this very seriously and we continue to work closely with our allies and partners,” he said, noting that the documents in question dated from February 28 and March 1.
A Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russian troops is expected in the spring. Ukraine claims to have, upstream, formed assault brigades and stored ammunition while striving to spare its troops and exhaust those of its adversary on the front.
It also received combat tanks and long-range artillery from its Western supporters.
But robust Russian defenses and “continuing Ukrainian deficiencies in training and ammunition reserves are likely to strain any progress and compound casualties during the offensive,” says a classified US intelligence document, according to Washington. Post.
Another document, classified “secret” and seen by AFP, details the worrying state of Ukrainian air defenses, which have so far played a crucial role against Russian strikes, preventing Moscow from taking control of airspace. .
But the document, whose authenticity AFP could not immediately confirm, claims that 89% of Ukraine’s medium- and long-range defenses were made up of Soviet-era SA-10 and SA-11 systems, who could quickly run out of ammunition.
Based on the current rate of consumption of this ammunition, the SA-11 systems could be dry by the end of March, and the SA-10s by the beginning of May, the document adds.
Kyiv’s ability to maintain medium-range air defenses to protect the front line “will be reduced to zero by May 23,” the document concludes.
Another leaked document claims that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ordered the production of 40,000 rockets to be delivered to Russia, warning officials to keep such a project secret “to avoid problems with the West”, reported the Washington Post in a separate article.
But the spokesman for the National Security Council, a body directly attached to President Joe Biden, denied the information, saying he had “no indication that Egypt is supplying lethal weaponry to Russia”.
“Egypt is and remains an important partner on security issues,” said spokesman John Kirby.
“The U.S. military has a longstanding defense relationship with Egypt,” he said.
The steady stream of photographs of classified documents have been discovered on Twitter, Telegram, Discord and other platforms in recent days, although some may have circulated online for weeks before attracting media attention.
Many of these documents are no longer available on the sites where they originally appeared, and US authorities are reportedly working to have them all removed.