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Zelenskiy claims that we were not informed of the intelligence breach in the Pentagon leaks from 2023 article published by The Guardian.

Photo by Kajetan Sumila on Unsplash

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said the White House did not advise him about the leak of highly classified US intelligence documents that received widespread attention around the world last month.

“I did not receive information from the White House or the Pentagon beforehand,” Zelenskiy was quoted as saying in an interview with the Washington Post published on Tuesday.

“It is unprofitable for us,” he added. “It is not beneficial to the reputation of the White House, and I believe it is not beneficial to the reputation of the United States.”

Asked if trust between the US and Ukraine had been strained by the Pentagon leaks, which showed Washington was allegedly spying on senior Ukrainian officials, including Zelenskiy, he said: “I cannot risk our state” and suggested it wasn’t worth damaging US support for Kyiv. “Where I can speak frankly, I do it. But there are high risks,” he added according to the paper.

“If it were my war against [Vladimir] Putin, and there were two of us on the battlefield, I would tell everyone what I think of them. But here the story is a little different. We are all responsible.”

The Pentagon leaks which came to light in April damaged ties with allies around the world, providing a snapshot in time of a wide variety of highly classified information including details ranging from the state of Ukraine’s air defences to Israel’s Mossad spy agency. The documents, labelled “Secret” and “Top Secret”, first appeared on social media websites, beginning with Discord and 4chan.

A US air national guardsman has been charged with distributing those documents in a chatroom on Discord, a social media platform that started as a hangout for gamers. He has not yet entered a plea.

Some files dating from February suggested Ukraine’s air defences risked running out of Soviet-era missiles and ammunition within weeks.

In his interview, the Ukrainian president described the leaks as a “TV show” that helped Russia. “For us, anything that informs our enemy in advance in one way or another is definitely a minus,” he told the paper.

Zelenskiy said he would not confirm or deny information in the leaks to avoid suggesting the documents were real, telling the Post: “Please, stop playing games with me. I am the president of a country at war.”

Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said on 12 April that the leaks contained a mixture of true and false information about his country’s military and downplayed its negative impact.

In response to Zelenskiy’s comments, a spokesperson for the White House national security council said: “We are in constant communication with our Ukrainian counterparts about a range of issues, including over the unauthorised disclosures, but we aren’t going to get into the details of those private discussions.”

Pentagon spokesperson Patrick Ryder said US defence secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken to a number of allies, including Reznikov, regarding the issue.

“Austin has conducted a large number of phone calls, conducted a large amount of outreach to our allies and partners around the world to discuss the matter with them, to highlight how seriously we are taking this issue, to include several conversations with his Ukrainian counterpart, minister Reznikov,” Ryder told CNN.

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