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Leaked Document Appears to Show U.S. Doubts About Ukraine’s Anticipated Counteroffensive: Report

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds – Pool/Getty Images

By: Micaela Burrow, Daily Caller News Foundation

An apparently leaked Pentagon document contains a dim assessment of Ukraine’s ability to meet its goals in a planned counteroffensive to recapture territory occupied by Russia, The Washington Post reported.

Ukraine could fall “well short” of its objectives in the much-anticipated campaign, the document, one of dozens of classified intelligence products related to the war in Ukraine that have surfaced on internet chat platforms last week and dated from late February, states, the Post reported. The document is labeled “Top Secret” and appears to detail a variety of factors, including estimated ammunition shortfalls and struggles to amass sufficient troops, suggesting the counteroffensive will produce only “modest territorial gains,” the document says.

“Enduring Ukrainian deficiencies in training and munitions supplies probably will strain progress and exacerbate casualties during the offensive,” the document says, according to the Post. Russian defenses are also well-established and will complicate Ukraine’s forward push.

While the full impact of the leak on ongoing Pentagon operations remains unclear, Ukraine has reportedly altered its strategy for the upcoming counteroffensive after additional leaked documents disclosed sensitive information about Ukraine’s capabilities and troop positioning and potential preparations to strike inside Russia, CNN reported, citing a source close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

According to the leaked document from February, Ukraine’s strategy hinged on solidifying a hold on contested territory in the east while cutting off Russian access by land to Crimea, the Post reported. Russia uses the peninsula jutting into the Black Sea, which it annexed in 2014, as a key supply juncture for the rest of its troops in Ukraine.

The document appears to originate from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), a U.S. agency that coordinates intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination from the rest of U.S. intelligence agencies, according to the Post. ODNI, the National Security Council and DOD declined to comment on the document.

The Pentagon and Justice Department are investigating the circumstances around the leak, and the White House has warned against sharing the documents.

The document was apparently produced after DOD provided a classified briefing to Congress on Feb. 1 expressing serious doubts that Ukraine possessed the capabilities necessary to push Russia out of Crimea, despite Kyiv’s stated goal of retaking the territory. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said earlier in March he thought Ukraine would face extreme difficulty recapturing Crimea and would likely fail, Politico reported.

Top officials in the White House and the Pentagon also held talks in March with Ukrainian leaders to advise Kyiv against planning outside its means, U.S. officials told the Post on condition of anonymity.

“Everyone knows we’re low on ammunition — the president and the defense minister talk about that openly,” a senior Ukrainian official told the Post.

“And it’s been obvious to everyone since November that the next counteroffensive will be focused on the south, first Melitopol and then Berdyansk. But the exact place — we can change that the week before,” the official added.

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