Pentagon Leaks Expose America's Pressure Campaign

President Joe Biden's visit to Kyiv, February 2023

What’s happening: A trove of classified Pentagon and CIA documents leaked as Ukraine prepares to start its spring counteroffensive. They highlight America’s involvement in Ukraine, coercion of American allies, and internal perspective of the war effort. U.S. officials call it one of the most significant leaks in recent years. The Washington Post now reports that the leak was done purposefully by a God-fearing gun enthusiast in his 20s who worked on a military base.

Regarding Ukraine: The leaks showed how much U.S. intelligence agencies have involved themselves in Ukraine. They lost trust in Ukrainian transparency, believe the upcoming counteroffensive will result in a disappointing stalemate, and have resorted to spying on conversations between Ukrainian officials and Zelenskyy to get accurate information about the situation. Washington is also fully involved in the day-to-day conduct of the war, providing thorough intelligence, logistics, and weapon coordination to Ukraine.

Geopolitical information revealed

China: America is still concerned that Beijing’s growing relationship with Moscow could lead to a transfer of lethal aid to Russia. America believes that if Ukrainians hit a significant strategic target or a senior leader, China could see that as justification to act.

South Korea: Seoul had hesitated to arm Ukraine and was in a difficult position because of immense pressure from America. U.S. intelligence spied on South Korean officials to understand their position, complicating Washington’s alliance with Seoul and angering its populace. South Korea has since agreed to lend the U.S. a half million artillery shells that will likely go to Ukraine.

Israel: Israel was in a similar predicament to South Korea—both smaller countries that want to stay out of the conflict but are deeply allied with America. One of the leaked documents was titled “Israel: Pathways to Providing Lethal Aid to Ukraine*”* and analyzed possible ways to coerce and pressure Israel into providing lethal aid to Ukraine. One scenario explored the possibility of Israel accidentally attacking Russian troops during a Syrian airstrike, prompting involvement.

Egypt: Cairo is a crucial American ally, receiving around $1.3 billion in annual military aid from the United States. The Pentagon leaks show that American intelligence was aware of a secret plot by the Egyptian president to supply Russia with rockets. This would mean that America has possibly been funding both sides of the conflict and could lead Washington to reconsider its support for the Middle Eastern country. Egypt has since denied these claims.

Turkey: The documents reveal that American intelligence found that Turkish contacts met with Russian military contractors regarding weapon sales. Though Turkey is a NATO member and has since sent lethal aid to Ukraine, it blocked Sweden’s accession to NATO and has taken advantage of Russian and Chinese trade to bolster its economy during the conflict.

The big picture

Despite appearances that the U.S. and its allies are all committed to aiding Ukraine and ending the Russian invasion, the Pentagon leaks show that many countries are either hesitant to side with Ukraine or get involved in the conflict at all. The documents also show that Russia and China are correct in viewing the Ukraine war as a U.S. proxy war: The U.S. is heavily involved in the conflict, without any troops on the ground, and pressuring other nations to get involved as well.

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