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DOJ investigating leak of apparent classified Pentagon documents

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Greg Nash

The Department of Justice logo is seen at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, August 5, 2021 prior to a press conference regarding a civil rights matter.

The Justice Department (DOJ) is investigating the apparent leak of classified documents on multiple social media websites that potentially detail information about U.S. and NATO aid to Ukraine. 

The Defense Department is also reviewing the documents after they were shared by Russian sources online on sites like Twitter. The documents, which are dated March or earlier this year, do not appear to include any major plans for the expected Ukrainian counteroffensive this spring, but they do seem to discuss Ukrainian training, munition expenditures and estimated casualties from both sides of the war. 

“The Department of Defense is actively reviewing the matter, and has made a formal referral to the Department of Justice for investigation,” Sabrina Singh, Pentagon deputy press secretary, said in a statement on Friday.

A DOJ spokesperson told multiple outlets that the department has been in touch with the Pentagon about the situation and has started a probe, but they declined to comment further. 

The documents resemble updates that the Joint Staff for the U.S. military would create daily but not publicly release.

But several inaccuracies in the documents have raised questions about their authenticity and whether they were manipulated for a disinformation campaign. The estimated number of Russian soldier deaths is significantly lower than the number that U.S. officials have said. 

“It is very important to remember that in recent decades, the Russian special services’ most successful operations have been taking place in Photoshop,” Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate, said on Ukrainian television. “From a preliminary analysis of these materials, we see false, distorted figures on losses on both sides, with part of the information collected from open sources.” 

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a statement that he had a meeting with his senior staff on Friday, and those present discussed ways to prevent any leaks on Ukraine’s defense plans. 

A U.S. official told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity that they believe the intelligence value from the documents is minimal even if they are real because Russia would already know much of the information included.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tags classified documents DOJ Justice Department pentagon Russia-Ukraine war Ukraine classified documents leak Volodymyr Zelensky

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