The biggest leak of classified documents in a decade created a sprawling crisis in Washington this week as records detail alleged U.S. spying on allies, insights into American thinking on the war in Ukraine and at least two neutral countries mulling plans to support Russia. Pentagon officials are still reviewing the documents for validity and the Justice Department is overseeing a criminal investigation of the leak.
At least one of the documents containing casualty estimates appears to have been altered, but it’s unclear how many of the roughly 100 leaked records were manipulated.
The documents have circulated online since March and possibly as early as January before picking up attention last week after a New York Times report.
There may be more documents to come, but the leak has already done a lot of damage, forcing crucial U.S. allies to respond in what has become an arguably embarrassing incident for Washington.
Here are the seven biggest revelations in the documents so far.
Ukraine air defense systems in peril
Munitions for Soviet-era air defense systems deployed by Ukraine will soon run out, potentially imperiling Kyiv in the war against Russia, documents show.
The S300 missile defense system is expected to run out of munitions by May and the SA-11 Gadfly system at the end of March, a document dated in February says.
Both systems make up about 89 percent of Ukraine’s air defenses and are vital to fending off frequent Russian missile strikes.
The Pentagon documents suggested that Ukraine could withstand only a few more waves of Russian missile strikes.
Russian military bloggers and state-run media outlets have already published the details of the documents.
Pentagon casts doubt on Ukraine’s spring counteroffensive
Ukraine is expected to launch a major counteroffensive this spring, but the U.S. is doubting Kyiv’s ability to retake significant territory, a “top secret” document says.
An early February assessment indicates “force generation and sustainment shortfall” for Ukraine’s military, The Washington Post reported.
Ukraine is aiming to retake territory in the east and in the south, where Kyiv could cut off a land bridge to the Crimean Peninsula.
Publicly, the Biden administration has signaled that Ukraine will regain territory in the coming offensive.
But the documents paint a darker picture, with Kyiv likely to struggle against entrenched Russian positions in southeastern Ukraine and with “deficiencies” in training and munitions, according to The Post’s review.
US intel on Russia could now be compromised
The documents also contain information about Russia’s forces in Ukraine, which the U.S. obtained through intelligence gathering.
All the buzz around the leaks is likely to lead to a crackdown in Moscow on communications intercepts and internal leaking.
Some analysts have said Russia is aware of U.S. intelligence gathering methods and has already been working to plug up holes.
But Kurt Volker, a distinguished fellow with the Center for European Policy Analysis, told The Hill this week that Russia will certainly start looking more closely now.
“They’ll be scouring this and trying to figure out, ‘Where are they getting this information from? How much of it is human intelligence, how much of it is signals?’” he said.
Israeli spy agency supported domestic protests
Some of the leaked documents indicate the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad supported nationwide protests against a proposed judicial reform from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to the documents, Mossad encouraged agency staff and Israeli citizens to protest the judicial reforms, which would award the legislative branch controlled by Netanyahu’s party substantial power over the judiciary, including an ability to override rulings.
Netanyahu delayed the controversial reform plan last month after a surge of protests across the country.
The Pentagon leaks about Mossad’s activities also suggest the U.S. was spying on a major ally in the Middle East.
Netanyahu’s office on Sunday denied the allegations against Mossad.
South Korea was concerned about supplying munitions to US
Other documents also pointed to potential U.S. spying on South Korea, a major ally in the Indo-Pacific, on support for Ukraine.
The leaked papers said South Korea was open to supplying the U.S. with artillery shells to replenish American stocks — but privately, Seoul was concerned about the munitions being diverted to Ukraine.
On Tuesday, the office of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said a “significant number” of the leaked U.S. documents were forged, citing a recent conversation between the defense chiefs from both nations.
“The suspicion of eavesdropping in the Yongsan Presidential Office is a false suspicion,” a statement read.
But the fallout from the leak already sparked tensions in South Korea.
The Democratic Party in South Korea, a liberal opposition political party to Yoon’s more conservative party, criticized the alleged U.S. spying.
“We deeply regret that the United States’ top intelligence agency has been carrying out illegal espionage activities against our allies,” the Democratic Party said in a Monday press conference statement.
Egypt secretly planned to supply Russia with rockets
Another bombshell revelation from the documents included classified information that Egypt was secretly planning to support Russia in its war against Ukraine.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ordered up to 40,000 rockets to be produced and shipped to Moscow, according to one document.
El-Sisi also planned to secretly provide gunpowder and artillery to Russia. He allegedly ordered his subordinates to keep the arms deal secret from western allies.
Egypt is a key U.S. ally in the Middle East region. The U.S. provides more than $1 billion to Cairo annually.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby on Tuesday said the U.S. has not seen evidence to indicate Egypt has followed through on those plans. A senior Egyptian official also denied the allegations in comments carried by state media.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said if the allegations in the documents are true, “it should lead to a major rethink of America’s relationship with Egypt.”
“I have long criticized the Egyptian government’s appalling human rights record, but if true this should raise profound questions for all who defend the status quo,” Beyer tweeted.
UAE agreed to work with Russian spy agents against US, UK
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), an oil-rich Arab nation in the Middle East, planned to work with Russian spies against U.S. and U.K. intelligence agencies, another document said.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, claimed that UAE security officials agreed to the plan, according to a review of the document from The Associated Press.
The Pentagon document cited signals intelligence, meaning the information was picked up through electronic messaging or telephone call intercepts. Washington apparently caught the FSB boasting about the agreement, according to the AP.
The UAE is a strategic partner for the U.S. in the Middle East but also maintains close ties with Russia.
An official representing the UAE told CNN the allegation is “categorically false.”