On April 7, 2023, it was reported that secret military documents as of March 1, 2023, with US and NATO plans for the development of the Ukrainian army before a counteroffensive, according to the NYT, had been leaked on social media.
However, the Molfar OSINT agency believes that this document may be partially edited and even faked. We have collected evidence that casts doubt on the authenticity of certain data and figures in the leaked documents.
Molfar in social networks 👉 Molfar Global
The data on the losses of equipment and personnel by the parties, allegedly provided by the Pentagon, are close to the statistics of the OSINT project Oryx
It should be noted that this point looks very suspicious. The Oryx monitoring group uses only open-source data for its analysis, while US intelligence has access to satellite imagery, operational sources, and other technical intelligence tools. It is unlikely that with such different sources of information, the final calculation will be so similar.
The data on the photos were edited after publication
Shortly after the original images were published, edited data appeared, where Russian casualty figures were replaced with lower figures, and Ukrainian figures were overstated. The figures were simply swapped: instead of 16, 61 were presented, instead of 17.5, 71.5 were presented.
Will Porter – Assistant News Editor at The Libertarian Institute – published both versions of the photo, noting that the photo with Ukraine's 16-17.5k dead looks much better than the blured photo with minimized Russian losses.
For example, an article by Grayzone, a media portal founded by pro-Russian propaganda journalist Max Blumenthal, mentions 71500 dead Ukrainian soldiers and states that Ukrainians have died 4 times more than Russians.
Photos of the documents were the first widely shared on the Internet by pro-Russian sources
According to a post by Bellingcat journalist Aric Toler (TW), the very first unedited leak was an anonymous post on the 4chan forum on April 5, which contained an additional photo with a document about Bakhmut that was not shared on Telegram channels. Later, Toler notes that the documents were leaked online in early March, but does not identify the source.
Thus, we assume that pro-Russian activists are behind the distribution of the documents on social media. Before their intervention, the documents were posted on forums, but were not widely shared. After their intervention, a massive campaign to spread the documents began, accompanied by the publication of new pages with stolen data.
- For example, the first reports appeared in TG as early as April 5. For example, in the DonbassDevushka (Russian-style information warfare) public, photos were published at 21:29, and at 21:49 a photo with losses appeared, indicating that Ukraine's losses were greater than Russia's.
- On April 6, a post with the photo appeared in the TG public Zapiski michsmana Ptychkina, reposting the photo from the public Two majors. Also on April 6, the news appeared in the Iznanka public. On April 6, TW also began to publish articles about "Ukraine's great losses" (1, 2) in Spanish.
- Swedish Mats Nilsson (TW), who supports Russia (he calls the propaganda statements of the Russian media outlet RIA Novosti "facts"), posted a photo of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson directions, which is not found in most posts. There is also a photo of a document about Bakhmut.
It should also be noted that the Telegram channel and Twitter account of Donbass Devushka, where secret Pentagon documents were shared, was run by a former US Navy servicewoman, Sarah Beals, according to The Wall Street Journal. Earlier, Sarah Beals was seen spreading Russian propaganda.
A day after Molfar's publication, a Bellingcat investigation appeared, in which journalists analyzed the original source of the published documents. We can only add to our colleagues' conclusions that the Russian side took advantage of the leaked documents by conducting a massive spreading campaign through pro-Russian channels.
Grammatical errors in the writing of unit names
The PMC Wagner is mentioned in the document as Vagner, while the accepted spelling is Wagner. The mistake in writing is repeated on other pages of the leaked documents.
The leaked document states that Ukraine has already received Abrams tanks, while their delivery is officially scheduled for the end of 2023
The page with the list of equipment (image) that will be in service with the Ukrainian Armed Forces brigades contains specific models and numbers for each position, except for tanks of an unnamed model marked in red.
It is likely that we are talking about American Abrams tanks, as this is the only model missing from the list whose delivery was announced. At the same time, according to the document, 51 tanks are expected to be delivered, which, according to the table, were to be delivered by the end of March 2022.
In January 2023, the United States announced the transfer of 31 Abrams M1A2 tanks, but their delivery is possible in the fourth quarter of 2023 – first quarter of 2024 (Q4'23-Q1'24).
Thus, the data on tanks from the leaked documents differs from the known real situation.
How does the updated version of the investigation differ from the original one?
At the time of the first publication, we were convinced that the documents were fake. After the Pentagon confirmed their authenticity, we reconsidered our position. In particular, information about the following was removed from the updated version of the article:
- questionable size of the document;
- incorrect date formatting, which was allegedly used;
- the inch size, which turned out to be a common measurement for wheeled vehicles.
We apologize for the haste in publishing our own analysis of the leaked documents. However, we emphasize that our first conclusion was correct: the precedent of the leak created a field for manipulation, which was used by the Russian side.
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