The US government is trying to come clean after the release of intelligence documents on the war in Ukraine. “We’re taking this very seriously,” National Security Council communications director John Kirby said in Washington on Monday.
Secret documents from US agencies about Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine have been circulating on the Internet for weeks. The US media has been reporting on key issues from both warring parties for days without releasing documents. It is unclear who released the documents, which were circulated weeks ago on pro-Russian channels. The investigative network proved that Bellingcat was manipulated some time later.
Kiev: Information about the counterattack is still classified
While media reported that people close to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy reacted angrily to the data leak, Kiev at least exuded calm to the outside world: Secretary of the National Security Council, Olexi Danilov, denied data on military operations. Units and direction reached the public. “This information is completely confidential,” he said in an ARD interview. The start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive will be decided only at the last moment.
Ukraine suspects US wiretapping of Zelensky
The Ukrainian leadership has also raised doubts about US wiretapping of Zelenskiy. Consultations between the head of state and the military took place differently than disclosed secret service documents, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak told Ukrainian television on Monday. The releases will not affect Ukraine’s relations with its Western partners. “These are normal analyses,” he said. Plans for a Ukrainian counterattack will also not be torpedoed, as work is still ongoing.
Earlier, in a meeting with the military leadership in late February, Zelensky proposed drone strikes on Russian military positions in the Russian state of Rostov, according to classified US Defense Department documents. It said it may have encouraged Washington not to supply Kiev with long-range weapons. Podoliak contradicts this statement: “It doesn’t make sense to say in short: “Let’s bomb the Rostov region.” Rather, such consultations will prioritize and strategize.
Zelensky welcomes prisoner exchange with Moscow
Zelensky ignored the release of the documents in his daily video address. Instead, he welcomed the exchange of more than 200 prisoners of war between Moscow and Kiev. “These are 100 families who brought real joy before Easter,” Zelensky said of the Ukrainian returnees on Monday. Orthodox churches celebrate Easter next Sunday.
The head of state also thanked Germany for its military assistance. Armor technology, air defense systems, ammunition, machinery and medical technology have been delivered over the past two weeks. Referring to Russia, Zelensky added: “The word defeater should be accompanied by the word aggressor. Only a Ukrainian victory can confirm that.
Belarusian ruler Lukashenko asks Russia for protection
Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko called on big neighbor Russia to protect Belarus as “Russian territory”. In a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Minsk on Monday, Lukashenko asked for appropriate security guarantees, state news agency Belda reported. He also thanked for stationing thousands of soldiers on Belarusian territory. Russia has also announced that it will deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus.
Russia conducts major military maneuvers in the Arctic
Russia’s Northern Fleet has begun major maneuvers in Arctic waters. 1,800 soldiers and more than a dozen ships will take part in the exercise, which will last several days, the navy’s news service said on Monday, according to the Interfax news agency. 40 aircraft and helicopters and ground operations vehicles are also in use. The Arctic is becoming another area of tension between Russia and the West. Russia has territorial claims here, including the North Pole.
What’s important on Tuesday
As fighting continues in eastern Ukraine, the focus is on China. The visit of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also wants to talk about the peace plan for Ukraine. Ukraine has already rejected Kiev’s proposal to give up the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcomes his Kazakh counterpart Murad Noordloo in Moscow.