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Russian state TV reacts badly to discussions of US information leaks

Kremlin propagandists were quick to dismiss claims that an alleged leak of classified US documents that could have significant consequences for the war in Ukraine painted Moscow in a negative light.

The Pentagon admitted there were “sensitive and highly classified material” in the photographed documents circulating online, which included Russian and Ukrainian troop losses, Russian attack plans and Moscow’s acknowledgment of its setbacks in the war.

The subject was covered in the program Meeting place (Mesto Vstrechi) on Monday in which expert Alexei Naumov said “we treated these materials too casually” on Friday when the alleged leak was first reported.

Ukrainian servicemen stand at their position in trenches near the town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region on April 8, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The United States is investigating the alleged leak of classified documents on the Russian invasion.

He told the programme, which aired on the NTV channel, that this was because the details of allegedly revealed Russian losses had been “probably photoshopped” and he had found “the original version of these documents”.

“There Russian losses are several times higher than Ukrainian losses, which is probably closer to the truth,” Naumov said in the clip. tweeted by Francis Scarr of BBC Monitoring which as of Tuesday morning had received 173,000 views.

This comment prompted fellow expert Anton Khashenko, a political analyst, to angrily exclaim with his arms crossed, “What? Russian losses are higher than Ukrainian losses? That’s closer to the truth?”

Another clip tweeted by Scarr which also went viral showed the presenter of the show 60 minutes on the Russia 1 channel quickly changing the subject when an expert described how the leak showed that Russian security and intelligence services had been compromised by the United States

Former Russian secret service agent Leonid Reshetnikov said the leak contained information that “the enemy – the Americans – should not know about us and our plans”.

He said the leak contained information “apparently extracted by espionage”, adding that “this should alarm us”.

When host Olga Skabeyeva asked for an example, Reshetnikov said the leaks revealed the state of Russian units and their mood.

Skabeyeva interrupted, saying “the mood is good and our plans are great,” before quickly moving on to another topic.

The documents reported by The New York Times said that up to 43,000 Russian soldiers had been killed by the start of 2023, with a casualty count of up to 223,000. This is compared to 17,500 Ukrainian soldiers killed in action and up to 131,000 casualties.

They also revealed that the Russian military recognizes its setbacks and “declining combat capability” and that US intelligence has penetrated almost every Russian military body, including the General Staff, Ministry of Defense and the GRU military intelligence agency.

However, the leaked documents, which also detail information about Ukrainian defenses, could play into the hands of the Russians and potentially help them break through at critical places on the battlefield, according to David Silbey, associate professor of history at Cornell University.

“At the very least, it will force Ukrainians to realign themselves so that the information is no longer accurate,” he said in comments emailed to Newsweek.

Silbey said the leak will pose problems diplomatically while the details, which include South Korea’s support for Ukraine, will be “inconvenient”.

“The other part of this is that the United States is once again seen as spying on its allies, which everyone knows but politely ignores. This is going to force foreign governments to say something publicly.”

He said Russia will seek to fill the gaps through which the information has flowed. If it’s electronic, they’ll ‘harden their computer systems’, and if it’s human intelligence, ‘they’ll find, arrest and probably execute those responsible unless the United States can get them out in time’. .

“Either way, the flow of information will be significantly reduced, which will make it difficult for the United States to help Ukraine move forward,” Silbey added.

Anonymous US officials told Reuters that Moscow or pro-Russian elements were likely behind the leak, which the US Justice Department, which Newsweek contacted for comment, still investigating.


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