- By Paul Adams & George Wright
- BBC News
According to one of the dozens of documents leaked online, the UK is among several countries operating military special forces inside Ukraine.
It confirms what has been the subject of quiet speculation for more than a year.
The leaked files, some marked “top secret,” paint a detailed picture of the war in Ukraine, including critical details of Ukraine’s preparations for a spring counteroffensive.
The US government said it was investigating the source of the leak.
According to the document dated March 23, the UK has the most special forces in Ukraine (50), followed by fellow NATO countries Latvia (17), France (15), the US (14) and the Netherlands (1).
The document does not say where the forces are located or what they are doing.
The number of employees may be small and will undoubtedly fluctuate. But special forces are by their very nature very effective. Their presence in Ukraine is likely to be seized upon by Moscow, which has argued in recent months that it is not only confronting Ukraine, but also NATO.
In line with its standard policy on such matters, the UK’s Ministry of Defense did not comment, however In a tweet Tuesday’s alleged leak of classified information proved what it called a “grossly flawed position.”
“Readers should be cautious about taking potential misinformation allegations at face value,” it said.
It does not elaborate or prescribe which specific documents it refers to. However, Pentagon officials have been quoted as saying the documents are authentic.
A document detailing the number of casualties in Ukraine on both sides appears to have been doctored.
The UK Special Forces are made up of several elite military units with unique areas of expertise and are considered the most skilled in the world.
Unlike other countries, including the US, the British government has a policy of not commenting on its special forces.
The UK has been vocal in its support for Ukraine and is the second largest donor of military aid to Kyiv after the US.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the Justice Department had opened a criminal investigation and was determined to find the source of the leak.
“We will continue to examine and turn each rock until we find its source and its size,” he said.