Internet investigation team Bellingcat has traced the path of secret US military documents on the war in Ukraine that have appeared in Russian-language channels in recent days, and found that a large number of similar documents could have been published on a little-known server as early as the first half of January. The original source of the “leak” Bellingcat, however, has not yet found it, and cannot fully vouch for the reliability of its conclusions either.
Arik Toler, one of Bellingcat executives, said on Sunday that he and his associates found out that a large number of classified documents, including, probably, those that have been widely distributed since April 5, were posted on the now disabled Thug Shaker Central server on the Discord network . around January 13th.
This server had only about 20 active users of very conservative, even racist views, who, according to Bellingcat, discussed video games, music, Orthodoxy and one popular YouTube video blogger with each other.
Bellingcat spoke to a former user of this server named Vakhi and two others who did not wish to make their nicknames public. According to them, what appeared on the network later is only the “tip of the iceberg” compared to what was published later.
One of the documents shown to Bellingcat investigators in a snapshot, which was very similar in design to the recently circulated documents, was dated January 13.
Further, on March 1-2, more than 30 documents, many classified as top secret, were published on another server in the Discord network, WowMao. They were removed on April 7th.
A couple of days later, on March 4, ten documents were published by a user on the Minecraft Earth Map server in the same Discord network, popular among game lovers.
And only a month later, on the evening of April 5, some of these documents appeared on one of the users of the 4chan network and in the Russian-language pro-Russian telegram channel Donbass Devushka, from where they scattered through other telegram channels and the press.
At the same time, most of the documents of the user 4chan and Donbass Devushka were different, only one matched – a map with statistics, including estimates of combat losses of Ukraine and Russia, and in the pro-Russian channel these estimates, according to Bellingcat (and many other Internet users), were clearly faked: Russian losses were greatly underestimated, while Ukrainian ones were greatly inflated.
The Pentagon declined to comment on the authenticity of the documents, but a Pentagon spokesman confirmed to CNN that his agency is investigating the leak.