A document marked “top secret” depicting the day-to-day mood of forces in Ukraine has been leaked and shown on social media, a US official confirmed.
The official said someone took a picture of the document and posted it on Telegram, a social media site with more than 500 million users, from where it was picked up on Twitter. Pentagon officials are working to remove classified information from social media.
A second official said the Pentagon is trying to determine how the material was leaked and how serious the leak was.
A total of five slides — photographs of folded and unfolded documents — were posted Thursday on a pro-Russian Telegram channel and appear to be authentic, although U.S. officials warned that some of them appeared to have been altered.
For example, one slide says 16,000-17,500 Russians were killed, but US defense officials have publicly said Russia suffered more than 200,000 casualties. The documents posted are also more than one month old.
The Telegram account said the posted documents described a “secret plan by the US and NATO to prepare and equip nine brigades of Ukraine’s armed forces for a spring offensive.”
The White House’s National Security Council and the intelligence community declined to comment, referring inquiries to the Defense Department. The New York Times was the first to report the leak.
“We are aware of the reports from the social media posts and the department is reviewing the matter,” Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said.
In a second statement provided to CBS News Friday night, Singh said the Defense Department “has made a formal referral to the Department of Justice for an investigation.”
The leak comes as Ukraine continues to prepare for its spring offensive against Russia. Earlier this week, the United States announced an additional $2.6 billion arms package for Ukraine, including ammunition and air defense capabilities.