Published 16/05/2023 15:54 | Edited 5/17/2023 6:24 PM
As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky travels across Europe repeating the rhetoric of a country victimized by an unreasonable attack that needs help to defend itself, his internal communications with top advisers and military leaders reveal an aggressive man, capable of foul play to advance on Russian territory.
The documents obtained exclusively by the The Washington Postare part of a wider leak of US secrets leaked on the messaging platform Discord. They also show that the Pentagon, where the documents came from, is aware of all the movements and intentions of the Ukrainian government, including the threats to attack Russia, which the White House avoids.
although the The Post highlight the issues relating to Zelensky’s conduct to war, the leak goes much further, and as has occurred in other cases, it may create diplomatic problems beyond the Crimean Peninsula region. It shows the concern of the Americans with the fragility of air defense in South Korea and Taiwan, for example, or military ties between the United Arab Emirates and China. The Pentagon is aware that Russia has the stamina for at least another year of war, and is concerned about space threats from Russia and China.
The leaks revealed President Biden’s global agenda preoccupation with major developing nations avoiding the escalating stalemate between the United States, Russia and China and, in some cases, exploiting that rivalry for their own gain. The documents mention India, Brazil, Pakistan and Egypt.
public and private face
The leaks reveal a Zelensky that contrasts with his public image of the calm statesman devoted to his people, resisting Russia’s brutal onslaught. The revelations were obtained through intercepted digital communications, providing a rare glimpse into Zelensky’s deliberations amid Russian missile barrages, attacks on infrastructure and war crimes.
He has won the trust of Western governments by refusing to use the weapons they supply for attacks inside Russia and targeting Russian forces within Ukraine’s borders.
But behind closed doors, Ukraine’s leader has proposed going in a bolder direction – occupying Russian villages to gain an advantage over Moscow, bombing a pipeline that transfers Russian oil to NATO member Hungary, and pining in particular for long-range missiles. range to hit targets within Russia’s borders.
According to the American newspaper, the person who leaked hundreds of pages of classified information of military intelligence was Jack Teixeira, a young member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, who is under arrest. He shared the documents with a small circle of friends on the Discord chat platform.
far from peace
The documents reveal deep concerns about the war’s trajectory and Kiev’s ability to wage a successful offensive against Russian forces. According to a Defense Intelligence Agency assessment, among the leaked documents, “negotiations to end the conflict are unlikely during 2023”.
The files include intelligence summaries and high-level conversations between world leaders, as well as information about advanced satellite technology that the United States uses to spy. They also include intelligence on allies and adversaries, including Iran and North Korea, as well as Britain, Canada, South Korea and Israel.
In some cases, Zelensky is seen curbing his subordinates’ ambitions; in several others, he is the one who proposes risky military actions.
In a mid-February meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Yuliya Svrydenko, Zelensky suggested that Ukraine “blow up” the Soviet-built Druzhba pipeline that supplies Hungary with oil. “Zelenskyy pointed out that … Ukraine should simply blow up the pipeline and destroy the likely Hungarian oil industry. [primeiro-ministro] Viktor Orban, which is heavily based on Russian oil,” the document says.
In detailing the conversation, intelligence officials admit that Zelensky was “expressing anger against Hungary and therefore could have been making hyperbolic and nonsensical threats,” a qualification that does not match Zelensky’s other accounts suggesting bold military action. Although Hungary is nominally part of the Western alliance, Orban is widely considered the Kremlin’s most friendly European leader.
the nuclear risk
Zelensky was not intimidated by the revelations, and stated that he will be capable of the same practices that he criticizes in the Russian offensive. During an interview with The Post in Kiev, the president dismissed US intelligence allegations as “fantasy” but defended his right to use unconventional tactics in defending his country.
“Ukraine has every right to protect itself and we are doing that. Ukraine did not occupy anyone, but vice versa,” Zelensky said. “When so many people have died and there have been mass graves and our people have been tortured, I am sure we will have to use every trick.”
The use of long-range missiles to target Russia’s interior is a particularly sensitive topic for the White House, which has long feared the conflict in Ukraine could spiral out of control and force a catastrophic standoff between the United States and Russia. the largest nuclear power in the world.
While Washington has given Zelensky billions of dollars in advanced weaponry, President Biden has rejected the Ukrainian leader’s request for long-range missiles capable of hitting targets up to 300 km away. Since the beginning of the war, Biden has said that the United States “is not encouraging or allowing Ukraine to attack beyond its borders.” Questioned, Zelensky says he did not give orders in this regard, denying the intentions revealed by the documents.
Last week, Britain became the first Western country to supply Ukraine with long-range missiles. Storm Shadow, a stealth-capable cruise missile system, has a range of 250 km, far exceeding the 80 km range of US-supplied HIMARS launchers.
Zelensky said he believed the United States was not sending the weapons because it did not trust Kiev. “I think they are afraid that we can use them on the territory of Russia,” Zelensky told the The Post, reaffirming its defensive intent.
While there is no indication that Ukraine has used Western missiles to attack Russian territory, the same cannot be said for Kiev’s use of weaponized drones.
Explosions caused by unmanned aerial vehicles have become a regular occurrence in Russia, including in Rostov, where a drone crashed into an oil refinery this month. Ukrainian authorities are often discreet about incidents, implying they are responsible without directly taking credit.
Russia this month accused Ukraine of staging a drone strike aimed at killing President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. Videos circulating on social media show two drones advancing towards the Kremlin. The allegation has been vehemently denied by Ukrainian officials, including Zelensky.