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Leaked Pentagon documents suggest Russian government infighting over Ukraine

<i>Tom Brenner/Reuters</i><br/>A fresh leak of classified US intelligence documents suggests broad infighting between Russian officials over Ukraine. Pictured is the Pentagon
Tom Brenner/Reuters
A fresh leak of classified US intelligence documents suggests broad infighting between Russian officials over Ukraine. Pictured is the Pentagon

By Sarah Dean and Anna Chernova, CNN

A fresh leak of classified US intelligence documents suggests broad infighting between Russian officials, including some within the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Defense Ministry, the New York Times reported Thursday.

CNN has not independently verified the documents. The NYT said it had shown the new 27-pages of documents to multiple US officials, who did not dispute the information but “could not, and would not, independently verify the documents.”

CNN has contacted the Pentagon for comment.

The US has said that the first set of documents released last week were authentic but has said that some of the documents were not legitimate and had been altered.

The NYT report says the documents, which it reports were posted on one of the Discord servers, show infighting between the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Defense Ministry over Russia’s casualty count for the war in Ukraine.

The new documents also indicate that Russian President Vladimir Putin called Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin to a meeting, believed to have taken place on February 22, to likely resolve a public dispute over ammunition supply, the NYT reports.

Prigozhin had accused Russia’s defense establishment of creating “major problems” with ammunition supplies for his troops.

He went as far as accusing the leadership of the Russian Defense Ministry of “treason” for failing to get ammunition to Wagner fighters and “also not helping with air transport.”

On February 23, CNN reported Prigozhin said that a shipment of ammunition was now on its way to his fighters, in a message and voice note published on his Telegram channel.

The NYT report says the documents detail US monitoring of Russian intelligence and apparatus and military command. The original batch of highly classified Pentagon documents leaked online in recent weeks and reported on by CNN also revealed the degree to which the US has penetrated the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Wagner Group, largely through intercepted communications and human sources, which could now be cut off or put in danger.

The Kremlin said it doubts the “reliability” of reports of broad infighting between Russian officials, in response to a CNN question about the NYT article.

“I don’t know what these reports [of infighting] are based on, but I’m doubting their reliability and the author’s understanding of the essence of what is happening inside Russia,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

The leaks on social media in recent weeks have flustered US officials, who fear the revelations about how Washington spies on allies and foes alike could put sensitive sources at risk, and compromise important foreign relationships.

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

Others divulge significant weaknesses in Ukrainian weaponry, air defense, and battalion sizes and readiness at a critical point in the war, as Ukrainian forces prepare 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.

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

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the person behind the massive leak worked on a military base and posted sensitive national security secrets in an online group of acquaintances. CNN could not verify the article independently.

The Pentagon has also stood up an “interagency effort” to assess the impact of the leak, Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said Sunday, while the Department of Justice opened an investigation into the leaks last week.

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CNN’s Natasha Bertrand, Kylie Atwood, Sean Lyngaas, Hannah Rabinowitz and Zachary Cohen contributed reporting.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Europe/Mideast/Africa

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