UK military special troops are operating in Ukraine, according to ‘top secret’ papers that have leaked.
According to the documents, there may have been more than half British special forces in Ukraine between February and March of this year.
Since the start of the conflict, the administration has kept secret the presence of special troops in Ukraine.
The UK embassy in Kyiv reported in June 2021 that its special troops had trained alongside Ukrainian military prior to Russia’s invasion.
Dozens of classified US documents that have been leaked online paint a detailed picture of the war in Ukraine, including sensitive details of Ukraine’s preparations for a spring counter-offensive.
Images of the classified files from the Pentago have appeared on messaging app Discord since February.
Complete with timelines and dozens of military acronyms, the documents, some marked ‘top secret’ also offer information on China and allies.
The US government says it is investigating the source of the leak.
According to the document the UK has the largest contingent of special forces in Ukraine (50), followed by fellow Nato states 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.
In line with its standard policy on such matters, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has not commented, but in a tweet on Tuesday said the leak of alleged classified information had demonstrated what it called a ‘serious level of inaccuracy’.
It said: ‘Readers should be cautious about taking at face value allegations that have the potential to spread misinformation.’
It did not elaborate or suggest which specific documents it was referring to. However, Pentagon officials are quoted as saying the documents are real.
UK special forces are made up of several elite military units with distinct areas of expertise, and are regarded to be among the most capable in the world.
The units, which conduct undercover operations as well as covert surveillance and reconnaissance operations, are the UK military’s most secretive organisations.
Unlike the intelligence services, the special forces are not subject to external parliamentary oversight.
The British government has a policy of not commenting on its special forces, in contrast to other countries including the US.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the Department of Justice had opened a criminal investigation and he was determined to find the source of the leak.
‘We will continue to investigate and turn over every rock until we find the source of this and the extent of it,’ he said.