Kremlin: “The leaked documents being studied, analyzed, widely discussed,”
After a trove of classified U.S. intelligence documents leaked online, the Kremlin has taken the opportunity to twist the knife and delight in what may prove to be one of the most major American security breaches in recent years.
The Justice Department has launched an investigation into the leaks, which have led to a series of embarrassing revelations, including the extent of U.S. involvement in the war in Ukraine and allegations that American spies collected intelligence on their own allies, including Israel and South Korea.
When asked about one particular reported allegation—that the U.S. has been spying on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky—Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Monday told reporters that he could not comment. Peskov then added that it “cannot be ruled out” and said the leaks are “quite interesting,” Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency reports.
“They are all being studied, analyzed, widely discussed,” Peskov said of the leaks more broadly. He also went on to deny accusations from U.S. officials that Russian or pro-Russian groups were behind the disclosures.
“You and I know that this is, in fact, such a tendency to blame Russia for everything… but this is such a common disease now, so there is nothing to comment on here,” Peskov said, according to RIA Novosti.
An unnamed source close to Zelensky told CNN that it was “unsurprising” that the U.S. would have been spying on the Ukrainian president but said officials in Kyiv were “deeply frustrated” about the revelations being made public. The network reported that some of Ukraine’s military plans had already changed as a direct result of the leaks.
Some of the damaging documents started to appear online last month on Discord. A Bellingcat investigation said some of the unlikely channels where the documents were posted were focused on the video game Minecraft and a fandom supporting a Filipino YouTuber. From there, the documents started being shared on 4Chan and Telegram before filtering through to Twitter and mainstream media outlets.
One of the Pentagon slides included in the leak also shows that Ukraine is forecasted to run out of anti-aircraft missiles early next month, The Wall Street Journal reports, allowing Russia to achieve air supremacy just as Kyiv launches a spring counteroffensive.
The files marked “secret” and even “top secret” reportedly show all kinds of highly sensitive secrets. Some disclose the locations of Ukrainian air defense systems, while others cover secret South Korean plans to send 330,000 rounds of ammunition to Kyiv. South Korean officials on Monday have said they will seek “appropriate measures” from the U.S. in response to the leaks once they have been verified.
The documents also included the allegation that Israel’s Mossad spy agency had directly been involved in the public uprising against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned judicial overhaul, according to The Washington Post. The agency denied the “false and absurd” accusation.”
Ukrainian defense officials have questioned the authenticity of the leaked documents. But Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said in a statement Sunday that the files “appear to contain sensitive and highly classified material” and that an interagency assessment is now being conducted into the impact the leaks could have on the security of the U.S. and its allies.