Ukrainian Defense Ministry official suggests Russia altered documents

Josh Pennington and Alex Stambaugh

A Ukrainian Defense Ministry representative on intelligence accused Russia of altering the highly classified Pentagon documents leaked online in recent weeks.

“In recent decades, Russia’s most successful intelligence operations have been carried out in Photoshop,” Andrii Yusov, a representative of the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine, said in a national televised interview, according to remarks posted on the directorate’s website on Saturday.

“Based on a preliminary analysis of these documents, we see false figures for losses on both sides. Some of the information is clearly collected from open sources,” Yusov said.

The ministry’s intelligence representative said the needs of the Ukrainian army have been “discussed at all levels” and that it’s “no secret that Ukraine is asking for aircraft, tanks, ammunition and other things.”

The comments echo earlier claims by Mykhailo Podolyak, the adviser to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, who said on his Telegram channel Friday he believes the Russians are behind the purported leak.

Podolyak said the documents that were disseminated are inauthentic, have “nothing to do with Ukraine’s real plans” and are based on “a large amount of fictitious information.”

As CNN reported earlier, bad actors are using the leaked documents to spread disinformation, analysts say. The document with casualty numbers, for example, was altered in recent weeks to more than halve the number of Russian deaths, before being spread on pro-Russian Telegram channels.

Asked earlier about the images circulating on Twitter and Telegram, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told CNN in a statement that “we don’t have the slightest doubt about direct or indirect involvement of the United States and NATO in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.”

What was in the classified documents: The highly classified Pentagon documents leaked online cover everything from US support for Ukraine to information about key US allies like Israel.

Some of the documents, which US officials say are authentic, expose the extent of US eavesdropping on key allies, including South Korea, Israel and Ukraine.

Some of the documents divulge key weaknesses in Ukrainian weaponry, air defense, and battalion sizes and readiness at a critical point in the war, as Ukrainian forces gear up to launch a counteroffensive against the Russians – and just as the US and Ukraine have begun to develop a more mutually trusting relationship over intelligence-sharing.

As CNN reported earlier, Ukraine has already altered some of its military plans because of the leak, a source close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN.

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