Telegram Leak of US/NATO Document Paints Grim Picture of Condition of Ukraine’s Military

In a bit of synchronicity, after pointing out that the Collective West was more free with information with respect to Ukraine than was ideal during a war, today we have the US government het up about an apparent leak. The New York Times reported that some US and NATO plans for building up the third Ukraine arm, in preparation for that much ballyhooed Ukraine counteroffensive, appeared on Telegram and Twitter.

Administration and press responses effectively confirmed the authenticity of the documents, by saying the Pentagon was investigating and depicting the Administration as (amusingly? presumptuously?) trying to get Telegram to take them down. Team Biden didn’t seem to be doing any better with Twitter:

The Grey Lady early on tried to discredit the notion that as many as 71,500 Ukraine forces had been killed versus 16,000 to 17,500 for Russia as Russian propaganda via document altering. Note that a few weeks ago, Colonel Douglas Macgregor’s Pentagon contacts put Ukraine deaths plus missing in action (as in in presumed dead) as over twice as high. By contrast, the supposedly “not credible/too low” Russia death count is consistent with the BBC’s estimates.

On the reported deaths:

As The Grayzone added:

That [Ukraine KIA] figure is close to the 100,000 KIA’s cited by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a November 2022 speech, before her comments were retracted. It also tracks closely with statements by one of Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky’s top advisers, Mykhailo Podolyak, who told the BBC in June of last year that Ukraine was losing between 100 and 200 soldiers per day (200 deaths per day over the course of 370 days between the launch of Russia’s military operation and the date of the documents would total 74,000.)

Other American and EU state officials have offered dramatically different figures placing Russian KIA’s over the six figure mark. For instance, Norway’s defense chief has charted 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers dead to Russia’s 180,000, while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Miley asserted that Russian losses are “significantly well over 100,000.”

The media and Twitterverse are focusing on the fact of the leak and the value of its information. The spin in the Times, so far being well amplified, is that the publication of this document is a first coup by supposedly backwards Russian intelligence. Huh?

First, if Russia’s spy services had gotten their hands on these documents and then were so sloppy as allow it to get loose in social media, that would be a sign of a real internal lapse. You don’t burn good channels, with publicity would do. And Russia would be much better served not having the West know it had gotten some potentially juicy information.

Second, former CIA analyst Larry Johnson parsed the distribution list. These reports were very widely circulated. From his post:

Images of what appears to be the Daily written brief for the “Russia/Ukraine Joint Staff J3/J4/J5” popped up on the Donbass Devushka yesterday and has not created much of a stir. Donbass Devushka has four of the documents on line. They appear authentic. One is classified as “SECRET/REL TO FIN, UKR, FVEY, NATO” and is date 28 FEB 23. (You can see the documents for your self at this link.)

The phrase, “REL TO FIN, UKR, FVEY, NATO” means that this document is available to Finland, Ukraine, the Five Eyes Nations (i.e., Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and the members of NATO.

One wonders, for instance, how many at each of the Five Eyes saw these reports. Anyone who got them is a potential leakers. The list of suspects is large.1

I would put Ukrainians at the top of the list of potential tell-alls. Ukraine officials, starting with Zelensky and including military top brass, have made clear they need much more in the way of weapons to launch a counteroffensive. Yet the US and NATO are pushing Ukraine to make its attack sooner rather than later precisely because Ukraine’s ammo situation is not good and set to get worse. So it’s not hard to imagine that some Ukraine insiders have worked out that the Collective West scheme is to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian, and they aren’t on board with that.2

Remember that both sides in this war have strong ISR capabilities. That’s why, for instance, the US could discern the size and disposition of Russian troops right before the launch of the Special Military Operation, and Russia could similarly see that Ukraine forces were then massing for a big attack on the Donbass. So most of the information in these documents would not be big revelations, but would still be extremely helpful in calibrating the accuracy of Russian intelligence.

Below I am embedding a must-read tweetstorm from Dr. Snekotron, who is one of the first to mine the documents for information. Keep in mind he’s not keen about Russia; he makes dismissive comments about its performance, as in territorial acquisition, not seeming to understand that Russia is fighting an attritional war and taking ground isn’t a priority.

Given that, his conclusions are even more deadly. For instance, Ukraine units are getting tank training on an accelerated basis, which means inadequately training. Many units as of the start of March still being formed. Many of the tank delivery dates TBD.

Needless to say, this is not a fighting force ready to go to battle any time soon. But the plan apparently is to throw it into the Russian meat grinder soon.

So it isn’t hard to think that someone who could see that these presentations were depicting a disaster in the making, not just for Ukraine but also for NATO, might want to throw sand in the gears.

1 It is possible that Russian operatives did get copies of these presentations but an entirely different leaker passed it on to the Telegram posters.

2 Mind you, that does not necessarily mean they favor negotiation, but instead want a Plan C with a more viable counterattack plan. I suspect Ukraine officials don’t buy Western claims that they are running out of weapons.

00 Dr. Snekotron tweetstorm April 7 2023
Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. GDmofo

    I’m surprised that Donbas Devushka is the English telegram channel that got the leak, figured it would have been “Intel Slava Z”. They both seem to be propaganda wings, so a healthy doses of salt are required for veiwing. Also, usually the joker is the one releasing all the hacks, so this might be a direct leak from the Russian government. Theres a bit more to this story, me thinks.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Just like the Nord Stream pipeline bombing, Russia has no motivation to be the instigator if the documents if they are genuine. And the White House/Pentagon reaction says they are.

      1. Kfish

        Why would the US Government react like this, though, if their behaviour is a tell? Why not just laugh and dismiss it as propaganda?

        1. Karl

          Interesting point. The U.S. seems suspiciously quick to confirm these docs’ authenticity.

          I also question why–according to these docs– U.S. intelligence agencies can penetrate Russia’s counterpart agencies, as well as those of US allies, but they can’t penetrate Ukraine’s and are in the dark about Ukraine’s military plans. This seems quite far-fetched. If Larry Johnson and others say these docs are the real deal, I guess they are. Still, just because the “headers” and addressee list look genuine–these could be copied and pasted from any U.S./NATO document–the contents themselves could be fake. Our people are good at that, yes? That’s what we pay these people for.

          Coming soon (?) another NY Times report: “Pro-Ukranian group believed to be the source of leaked documents.”

    2. Scylla

      I can’t speak to all of them, as the Donbas Devushka channel consists of a group of administrators, but I used to speak to one of them in a DM group way back in the first week of the conflict, and I still send them tidbits when I find them. Although their father was an ethnic Russian from Ukraine, this person was a US citizen living in the US, and I assume is still here. It’s possible they have direct ties to the Russian gov, but I highly doubt it.

      1. Greg

        From their podcasts, they’re a group of mostly expat Russian and Ukrainians, living mostly in the US with a couple in Canada and the UK.

        Very unlikely as a first-hand source, much more likely as somewhere with good distribution targeted by someone who wants to distribute the information, for whatever reason. Could be dissatisfied mid-ranker, could be rogue analyst, could be managed leak. Very hard to tell.

        The information isn’t incredibly devastating for either side. The Ukraine supporters will just ignore it, and the Russia supporters don’t like that the numbers are lower than they want them to be.

        The truly interesting information, to me, was the shell expenditure rates. Accepting that end of Feb was a while ago, 1k 155mm a day is a terribly low fire rate, and 14 HIMARS a week is just enough for the ones they throw at Donetsk and a spattering of targeted ammo dumps.

        The design of the brigades is very NATO, and one other thing that jumped out was the lack of brigade-level air defence. That is in line with American force design (at least as Brian Berletic has described it), but doesn’t bode well for the intensive drone and air weaponry likely to be thrown at these brigades in an offensive.

    3. Willow

      Assumption is either US/NATO or Russia leak but what if a third party that’s not happy with consequences of Ukraine conflict? Explain the telegram account used?

  2. Ali

    I rather think it is a deliberate leak. Not even the U.S. government could be so stupid as to think that the data could be made to disappear again. Still, I don’t understand the point of it all.

    1. mrsyk

      Maybe the numbers are significantly worse. Or, maybe there’s something else we should be seeing, but we are too busy looking here. I too feel like something is off about this leak.

    2. ChrisFromGA

      Here is a theory:

      The Pentagon knows that Ukraine has no chance at a glorious spring counter-offensive. But they need to keep the narrative of “plucky Ukraine” alive. So, they leak the data, and now have plausible deniability:

      “Gee, the Plucky Ukrainians™ were so close to a glorious spring counteroffensive, but those dastardly Russkies stole our plan! No worries – we’ll just reschedule it for the summer”

      1. KD

        I think it would be foolish to underestimate the Ukrainian’s potential. They have a lot of soldiers, and if they hit hard and in the right places, it could force a collapse of the Russian line. Long-term, it speeds up the attrition, but if it can be parleyed into leverage in negotiations and create demoralization on the Russian side, it could be effective in bringing the matter to a close with greater leverage for the Ukrainian side (now that it appears the West may want to revisit Istanbul).

        1. ChrisFromGA

          I agree, I am not underestimating the Ukrainians (important to distinguish them from NATO.)

          It could be though that now is not the time for the counter-offensive, and it was being pushed heavily by the NATO arm-chair warriors, as opposed to the Ukrainians actually doing the dying (and closer to the “facts on the ground.”)

          I would say that the Ukrainians have been plucky, but the narrative/lie is that they have any real chance. If Russia ever decides to formally declare war on Ukraine and put its full military might in play, it would all be over in a few weeks (massive carpet bombing of Kiev, US embassy reduced to rubble, c&c headquarters, strikes on Polish military bases with NATO assets.)

          Also, an offensive operation implies higher casualties vs. defenders, and with no air support it would be a bloodbath for Ukraine even if somewhat tactically successful.)

        2. anon in so cal

          Absolutely it is foolish to underestimate Ukraine’s potential. I stopped listening to Martyanov, MacGregor, Ritter, others months ago. The reality is that no one knows how many forces Ukraine has or could amass, what armaments it possesses, or what its capabilities might be. Just a lot of guesswork masquerading as informed analysis.

          Both the US and the UK have very likely provided Ukraine with weapons beyond what is officially admitted. This has been hinted at in UK media. The US has bet the farm on this war and is motivated to accomplish something before 2024. The war plans “leak” is likely from the US or NATO.

          1. The Rev Kev

            ‘The reality is that no one knows how many forces Ukraine has or could amass’

            Unfortunately irrelevant. Even if they have large numbers if troops, how many of them have been thoroughly trained? I understand that it takes about four months to train a US Marine and that is just the bare basic training. At that point, he is ready to learn his job. The Ukrainians will be doing lots of on-the-job training here instead. The Russians meanwhile have about 300,000 troops that they called up last year who have been doing nothing but training since then.

          2. kam

            “The US has bet the farm on this war”
            Biden has bet his second term on this war. Period. Full-stop.
            No matter how you think the Ukrainians are motivated or supplied, the U.S. would no more lose a war on their doorstep, say in Mexico, than Russia is going to lose in Ukraine.
            “The Ruble will be rubble.”
            “We’ll seize Russia’s Western Banking Assets.”
            “We’ll enforce a ceiling price on Russian Oil.”
            “We’ll not insure cargos of Russian Oil.”
            “We’ll blow up the Nord Stream Pipeline, then deny we did it.”
            All in vain. Foolish War Mongers, accelerating the decline of the USA/US dollar by many decades.

        3. Greg

          Agreed, I think both sides are prone to over-optimism re: offensives.

          Russia will move slower than its supporters want. Ukraine will not be able to secure its lines if it takes more territory.

          I sort of expect Ukraine to punch through somewhere, if they manage to get the mass of western armour into place without it being degraded by missile strikes. And once through, they’ll run around causing chaos as they did in the earlier offensives.

          I think it’s been mentioned by many people that there’s no real followup plan for Ukraine if their offensive punches through. They’ll be extended deep in the rear of the Russian lines, and when they run out of momentum due to extremely long logistics lines, those forces will be easily surrounded.

        4. Yves Smith Post author

          Disagree completely. You guys have an exaggerated notion of how quickly wars go. As we said, Germany had lost WWII as of the Battle of Kursk, but it was two years more before they surrendered

          Russia is outgunning Ukraine by about 7 to 1. That is only going to get worse. Casualty and death levels are in line with that or worse due to Russia having closer and deeper field hospitals.

          Even Ukraine fans are increasingly conceding that the forces being thrown into the meat grinder are badly trained and have a life expectancy of less than a day. You cannot last long in a war with few seasoned troops.

          Russia has been getting visibly stronger. It has been sending in slower droned and delivering gravity bombs, something it was reluctant to do before because the Ukraine (as in old Soviet) air defense was still functioning well. It’s now degraded. Russia has also bee sending it TOS-wielding firebomb tanks to clear forests, which before had been good hiding areas for Ukraine

          Russia has been going slowly only in map terms, which we have stressed is not the right way to look at an attritional war. Russia has been gong slowly and methodically through layered fortifications. That is a slow process unless you want to throw away lives.

          As for the fierce Ukraine fighting, you appear to have missed that Ukraine has stationed men behind the front lines to shoot deserters. Dima at Military Summary reported yesterday that about 30 men surrendered, IIRC near Adieevka. Russia could not get them to Russian territory that night, it had to house them temporarily near the line of contact. Ukraine forces located and shot them the next morning.

          That means it’s not clear how organic the Ukraine effort is, if they have to make such heavy use of ant-retreat enforcers.

    3. Skip Intro

      My thoughts exactly. It seems they erased at least 100k from the Ukrainian casualties, and maybe 1000 from the Russian side. Is this a way of easing the narrative into acknowledging the obvious? UvdL’s remark about 100k was months ago. I don’t think she overstated the count at that time.

      1. Scylla

        I can’t find it now, but I am pretty sure I saw an estimate sourced from Stratfor that stated 320,000 and that was a couple of months ago. That number included KIA and MIA.

  3. Stephen

    This video from Black Adder about General Melchett’s latest top secret plan comes to mind (two minutes):

    This document seems to have had even wider official circulation.

    I guess it could all be some cunning plan to create disinformation but if it were then the best way to do that would be to leak it via private channels to the Russians rather than get it stuck it out on Telegram for all to see. So the hypothesis that this may be the work of Ukrainian insiders to influence the west feels very plausible too.

    The Russians are possibly not happy at this, even if it helps them calibrate their intelligence. It is now obvious that Ukrainian plans are leaking everywhere so perhaps security will be tightened up going forward…..

    Comments in the Dr Snekotron stream about NATO / US not really having visibility or control as to what is going on are interesting. My assumption has been that the US as paymaster was micro managing things. But I guess that would be tricky in a war like this unless you had Stalinist style Commissars present in pretty much every head quarters down to battalion level. They would also need to be fluent in Russian / Ukrainian as well as military staff trained.

    1. JohnnyGL

      “Comments in the Dr Snekotron stream about NATO / US not really having visibility or control as to what is going on are interesting. My assumption has been that the US as paymaster was micro managing things.”

      I haven’t been sure what to think, either. I’ve seen Scott Ritter say things like, “This war is being run out of NATO high command in Brussels”. But it may be that the information is flowing one-way, mostly. NATO provides a ton of ISR to the AFU and doesn’t ask too many questions about how things are going. Possibly because NATO leaders don’t really want to know how badly things are going.

      I’ve seen higher estimates of KIA on the Ukrainian side from MacGregor. At one point he floated 300K total casualties and I think 150K dead on one of his weekly interviews with Judge Napolitano.

      I just heard Ritter suggest 80K casualties and 30K for the Russians, but he might have been speaking only about the battle of Bakmut, but those numbers are much closer to the suggestions from the leak.

      1. NN Cassandra

        Or maybe it’s another case of principal deliberately creating operations in his company in such way that any incriminating information doesn’t officially bubble up to him, so when all goes poof he can claim he didn’t know what was happening and it’s all fault of the underlings/Ukrainians who misled him.

      2. KD

        Russian casualty numbers are dodgy (even if accurate) because whatever the Russian MOD says, LDPR and DPR forces were not part of the Russian military prior to the Referenda, and groups like Wagner are private so would not be part of Russian loses either, so there are a bunch of non-military combatants who have surely suffered KIA or casualties on the Russian side will not being officially Russian military losses. Further, Russian MOD has not be forthcoming in several months and presumably do not want people to know the actual numbers in the Russian military, whatever their motivation.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Until the end of last summer LNR militia did publish weekly military and civilian casualties. That was when there was heavy fighting in Luhansk (Popasna and Severodonetsk). Can’t remember the numbers anymore, but they are probably still somewhere in the Telegram.

          On December 26 Donetsk Ombudsman 4176 casualties for the year 2022. That’s quite likely the “irrecoverable” category: KIA, MIA, POW and seriously wounded.

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      Stephen: Yes, pages 3 and 4 of Dr. Snekotron’s tweet-thread are either (1) mystifying or (2) enlightening.

      I am not sure who Ania Koniec is. Is she the same Ania K who interviewed Alex Christoforou and Alexander Mercouris the other day? In that case, she is a Polish blogger and vlogger. But what else does anyone know about her?

      Her assertion that the whole shebang is being run out of Kiev explains some things, like the endless accusations against the Russians of war crimes, the badly behaved Ukrainian foreign-service corps, and the incessant demands for weapons.

      What does that say, though, about the egregious stupidity of the Biden Administration and the German government? The stupidity seems to have no bounds–the very definition of the banality of evil.

      1. David in Friday Harbor

        I do not think it possible to understate the stupidity and gullibility of Biden, Blinken, Scholz, and Baerbock, liberally encouraged by generous cash gifts from the likes of Kolomoyskyi and Poroshenko paid to favored friends and causes.

        I do not trust any “news” coming out of “Ukraine” and I don’t doubt that someone with a conscience somewhere in the broad distribution chain of this memo got fed-up with having to play along with all the lying.

        The cynic in me believes that the “Ukrainian” oligarchy are intentionally hollowing-out the region by creating millions of refugees and tens of thousands of deaths — more “Ukraine” for them, plus foreign networks and remittances!

      2. R.S.

        I am not sure who Ania Koniec is. Is she the same Ania K who interviewed Alex Christoforou and Alexander Mercouris the other day?

        I don’t think so. Ania K on YouTube is Anna Konieczek, Ania Koniec is Anna Konieczna. Pretty normal Polish names, the same word root but kinda different. No idea who that AniaKoniec is.

  4. jackiebass63

    I was from the beginning thinking the press was misleading us about this war. We aren’t getting an accurate take on what is actually happening. Time will eventually tell the truth.In the interim take with a grain of salt what is actually happening.

    1. Questa Nota

      There has been such cognitive dissonance and misinformation surrounding Ukraine from the US Government and its outlets, dating back years. The BS kicked into high gear in 2014 and hasn’t really changed, although public perceptions have. Ask the average person about Ukraine and the answer is likely to be:

      Why are we sending them billions when Americans are freezing, starving, homeless, overrun, you-name-it?
      And why the [family blog] are we supporting Nazis?

      That reality distortion bubble around DC is getting ready to pop and it won’t be pretty. There needs to be jail for the perps and sanctions on those abetters. In the meantime, prepare your households for disruptions during the messy transition.

      1. timbers

        Yes. I am seeing a genuine divide of opinion on Ukraine that did not exist say a year ago. That divide is much more evenly split than you see in the MSM. More and more Republican-ish and independents say things like “its mostly Russians in those areas that want to separate, right? So why not let them join Russia?” And its perfectly acceptable to talk about Nassim with these people but not with Dems they covort and recoil in horror at any suggestion of Nassi in Ukraine.

      2. TimH

        If the prosecution of Donald gets anywhere, young Joe may get a surprise over his war crimes in Ukraine when the repubs have the leverage to push it through.

      3. chris

        I think the Blob can stay in its irrational pillow fort longer than people will care about about the reality in Ukraine.

        I would love to see support for the warmongers dry up. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

      4. Jed

        Why are we sending them billions when Americans are freezing, starving, homeless, overrun, you-name-it? And why the [family blog] are we supporting Nazis?

        Not in any deep blue U.S. city. They (the average persons) have bought the narrative from the get-go no matter how much the narrative gets undercut by actual facts.

        Plenty of Ukraine flags still flying in my city.

  5. The Rev Kev

    When those offenses are launched, they are going to be a bloodbath and hundreds of military vehicles will be destroyed or captured. This being the last batch of material that the west can supply in any quantity, I would expect that afterwards that many western countries will start to walk away from Project Ukraine. This being the case, I can understand why the Ukrainians are trying to delay them for as long as possible. It is not just a matter to make as many preparations as possible and to get as much gear as possible delivered. For Zelensky and Co., after the offenses fail the west will walk away and when the west walks away, so does the money spigot. So as some people have surmised, this leak was probably from the Ukrainians to delay those offenses being launched.

    1. Ignacio

      I think you are right on a few things here. It is quite possible that many in the West want to wash their hands about the conflict and the spring counteroffensive is their way out of it. That would explain why it has been announced so loudly: to exert pressure on Zelenski. And, please, ASAP. Some realise this is draining a lot of Western resources for no good reason and some might want to focus on China and forget about Ukraine. The failure will be all blamed on Zelenski. Hey we gave you, for free, all our wonder weapons and you fail miserably. Very much as Zelensky will blame Bakhmut failure on Sikorsky. The West don’t mind if the logistics are impossible, if the training was insufficient, if the equipment is not enough, if it is inappropriate etc. They want an end to the proxy war contract before the summer. So, yes I agree the leak was probably from the Ukrainians.

      At some point Ukrainians will realise how they have been dragged to a conflict with promises that never came true and will end hating the West.

    2. hk

      I agree that the Ukrainians are most likely leakers. The most ridiculous propaganda pieces, even if they were the sources themselves, have to be contrary to their interests now–as many people have noted, if the Ukrainians we’re so successful at capturing Russian tanks that they have more tanks than they started with, and Ukraine began with a LOT of tanks, why do they need Western tanks so desperately? This is too obvious a question that anyone who’s not a flat earth fanatic would ask.

    3. hk

      I think that’s precisely why we are not going to see an actual offensive.

      I think (trained) manpower situation is quite different from what too many people seem to imagine. Ukrainians have been able to preserve their cadres much better than expected, but offensives require a lot of trained manpower, especially when the other side has had time to prepare and I don’t see Ukrainians being able to launch a “real” offensive. On the other hand, I don’t think Russians have nearly as many troops to spare as Martyanov, Ritter, and Macgregor seem to imagine. The deteriorating relationship with Europeans means that a lot of troops are needed in Belarus, Karelia, and the Leningrad Oblast, among other places. That they keep deploying the same “semi regular” troops, like Wagner, in “down and dirty” operations suggests that they really don’t care to commit too many troops to Ukraine especially since, in the grand scheme of things, “winning” in Ukraine is secondary anyways to the larger mostly “diplomatic” game.

      Taken together, these seem to indicate that the fighting will be intense but “slow,” with no big movements by either side. It will continue until France and Germany “surrender.”

  6. Pat

    I’m going to lay my money on NATO being the source of the leak. Or rather someone high up enough to be part of NATO’s distribution circle who is also in line to go to Ukraine and manage operations there.
    If reports are accurate , there have been some not so subtle signs that Russia’s missile attacks include possible unacknowledged NATO/American operations in Ukraine. There was that rather spectacular strike a little while ago that possibly took out an underground operations center, deep underground. If that, or any other, really did pancake top level “advisors”, it may not just be old hands at the Pentagon who are trying to blow up the propaganda that shrouds this failing proxy war from real public scrutiny.

    1. JohnnyGL

      You may be onto something. I can see someone in there with a still functioning brain looking at the controversy about this possible counter-attack and thinking “this needs to be cancelled, pronto, it’s suicide”.

      Now, the AFU has a pretext to cancel this offensive before it fails, as was clearly going to happen.

      If they cancel the offensive and just play defense, it’s likely they can continue the war effort for longer, but, how much longer? There’s already scattered reports of mutinies and defections. Soldiers don’t like being asked to go sit in a trench and wait patiently to be spotted by a drone and killed by artillery fire.

      1. Gregorio

        I suspect that by this point, the Ukrainian leadership is seeing the handwriting on the wall, and has largely shifted their focus to just keeping the western gravy train flowing as long as possible, and siphoning off as much as they can manage, before heading into exile in some exotic location safe from financial scrutiny.

    2. Bugs

      That’s interesting. And which country is the least enthusiastic member of NATO, and has military brass who might see Project Ukraine as a major impediment to its plans for an independent European defense, post Brexit?

    3. hk

      This is probably highly improbable, but when the news broke of that Japanese general who was supposedly onboard a helicopter that just disappeared, I did wonder if he was actually in Ukraine.

    4. marku52

      Gilbert Doctorow’s latest offers confirmation of the Khinzal strike on the underground NATO bunker, with up to 200 officers killed. (last thing in the article)

      First I had heard that from a reliable source.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Oh, wow …

        ” … including about 20 Americans.”

        Wow … what deafening silence from MSM, indeed. Definitely not the kind of thing our warmongering pluto-kleptocrats want to broadcast when Mon€yBag$ Zelenskyy has made off with billions, and we’re on the brink of an election cycle, eh?

        1. Catchymango

          Not that they’ve never made false debunks before, but Snopes 4 days ago said it was BS? At least something about a missile strike in Lvov killing NATO officers. Just FYI, I read Doctorow’s piece but it would be great to find some more info.

  7. Lex

    Whether the document is genuine or not is a serious, but probably immaterial question. Unless the goal is to dig deep into the information war aspect of this conflict. It doesn’t really show anything that one who follows the conflict closely wouldn’t deduce, except that Ukrainian losses are too low.

    I agree with others that the leak itself would probably be NATO military. This isn’t a DoD war but one being run from the WH, Foggy Bottom and Langley. Milley and Austin are political appointees, even if the former still wears a uniform. And on this point I think that commentators and analysts are often using shorthand for the sake of brevity, so Ritter saying “NATO” does not necessarily mean NATO military commanders are running the show but people associated with NATO countries. If that’s correct, what we may be seeing is military people with limited information (because it’s not all shared whether that’s by Ukraine or DoS/CIA) drawing damning conclusions and acting on them because they don’t have a voice in the decision making process.

    All proxies have more control of situations than they’re generally given credit for. Zelensky has maximized his leverage because his masters are too ideologically committed to the grand plan and, frankly, not very smart. But giving him this much control and continuing to just feed him weapons and support is still the fault of DC. I maintain that if anyone has dirt on corrupt behavior of Biden and/or admin/democrats in Ukraine, it’s Zelensky and the SBU. The potential for “blackmail” is pretty high.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Blackmail isn’t needed for Biden. His whole act is being a tough guy. He’s put down too many markers to back down. Biden thought he was picking a fight with 1997 Yeltsin, so things aren’t working out the way he hoped. He has the problem of running for reelection while being reliant on the Karens who believe Hillary was cheated by Putin. If Biden makes peace in any way, the Karens will have almost as much anger at Biden as the LSU women’s basketball team.

      I figure the current plan is to frustrate Europe enough that Europe quits so the White House can blame Frenchies and Americans get bored.

      For the MSNBC crowd, Putin installed the Orange Man and invaded Europe. You can’t make peace with that. He has to be stopped at all costs besides inconveniencing the Karens.

  8. redleg

    A simple way of thinking about battle casualties:
    Artillery causes a majority of casualties in battle. The ratio of shells fired should match the causality ratio.
    Using Ukraine’s estimate of a 9:1 Russian advantage in artillery (I don’t recall what that measured), the casualties should be approximately 9:1.
    Let’s say for augment’s sake that Russian artillery has only 50% the effectiveness of the NATO Ukrainian artillery, that should still be a 4.5:1 Russian advantage in casualties inflicted.
    Actual results will vary, but this is a simple and effective way of evaluating how realistic battle casualty figures are using information that’s been available.

  9. Wukchumni

    Its all about the wolfram, jack.

    China has nearly a monopoly on mining of tungsten, and you can’t make armaments w/o it in many cases.

    The situation is eerily similar to Germany early in WW1, their only supplier of saltpeter was Chile and if the Haber Process hadn’t been invented, no explosives.

  10. Lex

    Mediazona is hardly friendly with the Russian state under Putin, so there’s little reason for them to undercount Russian casualties. The link allows breaking down the losses by “all”, “inmates” and “PMC”. It may not include LDPR militias but I would think it does include volunteers and the Chechens under the national guard (they would be volunteers). The N/A portion of the circle graph may actually be militias. It’s somewhat odd that the data doesn’t call out militias directly.

    They have the total at just under 20,000 and this fits – generally – with the few times the MoD has released information as well as the BBC numbers. Though we should probably assume that the BBC just lifted Mediazona data.

    1. R.S.

      It’s tricky. Their Russian text (I treat it as the primary source, since they’re native Russian speakers, and they write for the Russian audience) states that:
      We do not count military losses of the self-proclaimed LDNR republics. But if a Russian citizen voluntarily goes to the war and joins the armies of these republics (or is sent there after mobilization), we will count him.

      “The Chechens” are Rosguardia, that’s in the “National Guard”. I’ve skimmed through the list of officers, and they list Rosguard officers as “National Guard”.

      “Inmates”, “mobilized”, and “volunteers” are not separate categories, “all troops” includes them. There are no separate “volunteer” units, they’re just people who voluntarily joined the army (signed a contract) to serve in the SMO.

      Mediazona say they count them for comparison with the “cadre units”, i.e. regular army. (And to stir up some unrest wrt the “mobilized” I guess.)

      “Other troops” actually include FSB and FSO (Federal Guard Service). That’s weird.

  11. tet vet

    The lack of a counter offensive, from day 1 seen been seen by most honest viewers as a sign that the Russians were winning despite all of the propaganda to the contrary. It is key because if they cannot now mount another one that has at least some small sign of success, the jig is up. I think it is – the lies are no longer believable. This will lead to Z’s Emperor Hirohito moment when he will be forced to admit to the his people that “the war situation has developed not necessarily to (Ukraine’s) advantage” – because of the US’ and NATO’s failure to live up their commitment to adequately provide the necessary means for victory. (The deal was we supply the manpower and they supply all else. We did, they didn’t). What happens to Z depends on the final disposition of the Nazi situation. If the Russians can eliminate them as an issue, Z will commit to reverting to his “get along with Russia” style as he ran on and overwhelmingly won the election. If not, Z will end up in exile or dead. IMHO the Nazis are the key to whether he lives or dies, and therefore the ultimate outcome.

  12. Aurelien

    As far as I can tell from the tiny photos the documents are authentic, and, from some of the phraseology, probably from a US source. (The handling caveat NOFORN -ie “No foreigners”- is only used by the US, as far as I know.) It is described as a daily J3/4/5 brief, which is to say it covers operations (J3), logistics (J4) and force structure and programmes (J5). It’s classified Secret, which means that basically anybody working in a NATO government plus Finland who has been through the standard security procedures when recruited is allowed to look at it. The potential number of copies is at least in the hundreds, and quite possibly a thousand or more.

    It would be much more interesting to see the daily J2 (Intelligence) brief, but that would in turn have a much more restricted circulation.

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all to discover that NATO has much less control over what’s going on on the ground, or visibility of it, than people like Ritter believe. (NATO high command isn’t in Brussels anyway, it’s in Mons.) Ultimately it’s the same problem as in Vietnam or Afghanistan: NATO is dependent on Ukrainian officers who speak English to tell them the complete truth about what’s going on. Independent confirmation, even when it might be theoretically possible, is going to be extremely difficult and time-consuming to do, especially if NATO wants to avoid the impression of distrusting its “allies.”

    1. scott s.

      I took the reference to “Brussels” to mean it’s being run as a political operation, not military which as you write would be run from SHAPE HQ.

  13. John k

    Imo this is a sign of dissension. Maybe Ursula’s 100k was another such sign even though she seems so gung-ho. Seems logical, the truth is ukr is a disaster, some maybe thinking the hole is deep enough, stop digging. Problem is, Biden thinks he’s politically better off to never stop. But timing is bad, maybe best is to delay to summer/fall, dangerously close to election. Course, nobody accused him of being smart.

  14. Susan the other

    There’s no telling what motive is behind the leak. But it is reassuring that KIA stats are being looked at, now by everyone. Since divulging that Ukraine’s army has been more than decimated there has been delicate talk about recruiting “volunteers” from NATO countries, even the US. The final stat we were asked to believe about Vietnam KIA was 50,000, with many more wounded. The entire nation is still pissed off about it. Add to that the neglected and mistreated Iraq and Gulf War vets and you can begin to feel the outrage building. So float a feeler, see what people think about death and mutilation in another war that should never have started in the first place. So far I haven’t heard anybody on NPR make the breathtaking comparison between just one year of fighting in blood-soaked Ukraine KIA and 15+ years of KIA in Vietnam. The absence of that discussion is deafening.

  15. OwlishSprite

    I saw this this morning: BOA cancels event over honest assessments:

    A pair of attendees told the outlet that BofA Securities’ head of international relations, Daniel Sheehan, criticized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the event.

    Sheehan allegedly described Zelensky as a “master manipulator and mimic” and a subject of “serious concerns” among US officials, according to the report.

    A bank spokesperson reportedly pushed back on the characterization of the remarks made by Sheehan and said he was referring to views held by others, not his personal opinion.

    Another speaker, University of Rhode Island professor Nicolai Petro, reportedly rankled some guests with his views on the Russia-Ukraine war.

    In remarks from the event that he shared with the FT, Petro described Ukraine as “the overwhelming loser” of the war “under any scenario.”

    1. Michaelmas

      Interestingly, BofA Securities’ head of international relations, Daniel Sheehan, who criticized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, was formerly a CIA executive at the highest level.

      Prior to joining the bank, Dan served in the Central Intelligence Agency … Dan retired with the highest possible personal rank at CIA, the organization’s equivalent of a four star general. He served overseas multiple times as a Chief of Station, and multiple times in Washington D.C. as a Directorate of Operations Component Chief … He deployed operationally to more than 40 countries on six continents. During his career, he was the most senior officer managing CIA’s relationship with the DoD, and with the U.S. Law Enforcement Community. He served case officer tours in the Near East, Balkans, and Western Europe, and Headquarters management tours in the Counter-terrorism Center, Office of General Counsel, and the Inspector General’s Staff. Dan has had extensive experience briefing in the White House Situation Room and testifying in front of the Congress ….

      Blah, blah, blah. If all this is true, Sheehan was a heavy dude at CIA.

      Two points arising from this —

      [1] Comically, those who attacked former CIA dude Sheehan for being a ‘Putin/Kremlin troll’ are analogous to Liz Truss complaining about those commies in the City of London.

      [2] More seriously, if Sheehan and whoever spoke to Hersh is sticking their head above the parapet, then it’s likely that sizable segments of the intelligence community — probably more so at places like DIA than CIA — really don’t like this whole Ukraine adventure, how it’s been handled, and where it’s headed.

      And why would they? It’s deeply stupid.

      1. OwlishSprite

        Why do bankers hire spooks if they don’t want the benefits of their experience and connections? It’s like hanging a painting you don’t like on the wall because it will impress your guests, and as soon as someone complains, down it comes.

        1. Michaelmas

          Big banks do need spooks’ geopolitical experience and connections. But they also have to deal with — and cater to — their customers’ politics and demands, which was what happened here.

  16. HH

    The Russians are now ramping up production of guided bomb kits that can turn their huge arsenal of aircraft bombs into precision strike weapons that can destroy any Ukrainian structure. It is hard to see how Ukraine can avoid defeat. Washington’s neocon idiots will soon have another debacle to add to their collection.

  17. Don

    I have been following this war closely — probably far too closely — and I do not know for certain who is winning, who is going to win. I don’t think anyone does. If I had to guess… but the Ukrainian forces, however much degraded, do still vastly outnumber Russian forces in theatre. (The urgency of the vaulted counter offensive is all about the seeming lack of Russian urgency in bringing 200,000 additional troops into the fray — if the latter happens, the former will not.) And there is no way of telling for certain what resources Ukraine has received, and what resources it still has. And then there are the CIA biolabs and the possibility of the US starting a nuclear war.

    All I know with absolute certainty is that NATO and America must lose. If you have not watched Patrick Lancaster’s street interviews in Donetsk from yesterday, please do. Remember how this war started. These people were facing extermination; they have lived this for nine years and they understand: Donetstk must win; if Donetstk loses, Russia loses, if Russia loses, the world loses.

  18. skippy

    The w/arm chair is getting pretty worn on its wings from all the shifting … and the pencils in the occupants eyes are down to nubs due to excessive narrative shaping … its like the first GW media shtick on roids and the users are in late stage side effects from it …

    The mention of the lack of territory advances is too me evidence in this regard. Its like the propertarian sorts are blinded by their own dogma with a side of cut and paste war history myopia. If the SMO is accurate why would one amass forces which are subject to artillery, missile, drone battery’s from a stand off position = kill box. Hence why a city makes for a good place to conduct an operation to reduce the forces of ones opponent when you have the advantage in the above i.e. you can use combat patrols to identify locations for targeting or press them and wait for the repulse and hit them or a combination of.

    Furthermore why would Russia feel the need other than some headlines want to engage in a big push at this moment. Never mind the watchful eye to the West about events which could be shaped to draw in other NATO military forces under the scream that they are next.

    Topping it all off is holding your best forces and equipment if things do escalate down the road, whilst your getting real time intel on all the new battlefield dynamics, due to new tech and how to counter it. Especially considering this at Russia’s door step logistically, days/weeks vs months if things escalate. Not to mention a unified force against a ad hoc one.

    Its so Sesame Street – this thing is not like the other thing – save the PR/Marketing media cortex injections for the masses. Gasp at the stuff one sees on Quora et al and their day job titles – giggles – I wrangled with a few and it was not pretty. Once informed of my back ground/experience they can’t attack that angle and then its bit side ways for a moment, only to clam up before their projected authority and with it its gravitas left it tatters. Yet that seems to be the rub, hundreds, if not thousands of people coming out of the wood work reading off the same script with tweaks to make it look like individual introspection. The job titles really do crack me up … hard to type in hysterics … when they are so serious … the power of my shtick compels you X10 …

  19. RitterFan

    Anybody really reading the piece of Dr. Snekotron and comparing to Yves’s article?
    He clearly stated that the KIA information has been altered: “the original stated 35.5-43.5 KIA on the Russian side…” Why is this not discussed in the article? Seems to me like as selective filter / confirmation bias: only preferred information is discussed.
    By the way, 40k KIA with a moderate 3:1 KIA to wounded ratio would sum up to 160k losses.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      As I indicated in the article, Dr. Snekotron makes clear he has an anti-Russia bias. So we pointed out we were not on the same page as everything he said. We regularly run cross posts where we (and often readers) take exception to some of their observations while agreeing with others.

      BBC has been working VERY VERY hard in Russia to identify Russia military deaths. They have only found about 16,000-17,000. Colonel Macgregor and his Pentagon contacts regard that as credible. They have explained why the death disparity as no surprise given Russia’s overwhelming and sustained artillery advantage. Artillery does have this nasty way of blasting bodies into smithereens.

      We have also pointed out that Russia has an excellent field hospital operation, treating many wounded men in the first hour, which is critical to survival. Ukraine has many fewer and can’t readily evacuate injured men to actual hospitals.

      Other have pointed out the BBC estimates might miss Wagner deaths, but even so, we have pointed out you’d gross that up to 20,000-24,000 tops.

      Confirming low Russian deaths is the lack of uproar on Russian Telegram, which is very open and full of hawks who are super critical of the Russian military. They’d be up in arms if the losses of men were high.

      The idea that that part of the document and nothing else has been altered is a bizarre claim by the New York Times that Dr. Snekotron is amplifying. Why would this and this only be faked? And they cite no evidence that the document has been altered, save that those figures are not at all what they expected.

  20. Michaelmas

    It’s not just Ukraine. This went up at the NYT an hour ago: –

    New Batch of Classified Documents Appear on Social Media Sites
    Secret documents that appear to detail American national security secrets on Ukraine, the Middle East and China have surfaced online.

    …One analyst described what has emerged so far as the “tip of the iceberg.”….

    Comically, the NYT is still trying to maintain the narrative on respective Ukrainian and Russian deaths. To whit: –

    Pentagon officials acknowledge that they are legitimate Defense Department documents, but the copies appear to have been altered in certain parts from their original format. The modified versions, for example, overstate American estimates of Ukrainian war dead and underestimate estimates of Russian troops killed.

  21. Martin Oline

    Many believe this leak is a red herring. The Russian military believe it is and that may be the only thing that matters. Others, especially with the latest revelations (see Michaelmas above), believe it to be genuine. Late last night Simplicius had an appraisal of these documents which he was at first going to ignore, thinking it was fake. Those who wish to read it themselves the link is here Simplicius the thinker,

    1. begob

      Just on the name Simplicius – it’s also used by the Dec1991 account on Bitchute, which posts brief pro-Russia videos from the front line. I take it the date refers to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Comments are closed.