The truth about leaked documents about a Ukrainian military scenario to strike Russian interests in Syria

Analysis: Strategic Analysis Team in Geostrategic Studies
The leaked document published by the Washington Post about a Ukrainian plan in cooperation with the Syrian Democratic Forces (which it retracted from its implementation) to target Russian forces in Syria, raised great concern in international circles. As this type of attacks could lead to an escalation of conflicts in the region if the matter of the leaked document is correct, but in fact the Syrian Democratic Forces denied the whole matter and indicated that there are forces seeking to undermine the Autonomous Administration and destabilize the security and stability of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria by broadcasting Malicious rumors, including the fabrication of such documents as leaked.
The violent confrontations that Ukraine is witnessing between its forces and the Russian occupation did not extend to Russian spheres of influence outside the region at all, even the partner countries of Ukraine did not enter the military conflict from their territory, and the possibility that such a scenario that was published under the banner of leaks is not possible at all, especially in Syria In which Ukraine does not have any influence or close relations with the various parties. In view of the reality of the Syrian local forces, we will find that the Syrian regime has completely shifted to the Russian axis because of the regime’s dependence and will, which has become managed by Russian officers, while the Syrian opposition groups do not have the right to decide anything because they are bound by Turkish approval, which cannot enter into the Ukrainian conflict through the gate. Face Russia. While the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Autonomous Administration find Ukrainian support and support for Turkey with major parts of the drones, as well as the strong Ukrainian-Turkish relations, they do not help the existence of any ground or climate for relations between the Autonomous Administration and Ukraine.

most likely belief

Ukraine may have planned any confrontations against Russia in countries and locations where Russia is present, in order to expand the area of confrontations and relieve Russian pressure represented by the fierce firepower in Ukraine, but these Ukrainian plans have no effect in Syria, and the most likely belief is that if there are Ukrainian moves, they will be in coordination. With the Syrian mercenary groups that control the west of the Euphrates, not the Syrian Democratic Forces, especially since this opposition has talked a lot about participating in the war against Russia, although the objective circumstances also confirm the inability of the mercenary groups of the Syrian opposition to move in any directions without the approval and Turkish order.
On the other hand, there are no clashes between the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Russian forces in Syria. Rather, it confirms the existence of field coordination in several locations, whether in Manbij, Kobani, and Ain al-Issa, all the way to Tal Tamr, Darbasiya, and Qamishli.
So logic says that this document cannot be realistic, and most likely Ukraine is planning any scenarios, but the Syrian Democratic Forces have no knowledge of them.

Here is the leaked document, according to the Washington Post

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency developed plans to conduct covert attacks on Russian forces in Syria using secret Kurdish help, according to a leaked top-secret U.S. intelligence document.
The introduction of a new battlefield — thousands of miles from the war in Ukraine — appeared designed to impose costs and casualties on Russia and its Wagner paramilitary group, which is active in Syria, and possibly force Moscow to redeploy resources from Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky directed a halt to the planning in December, but the leaked document, based on intelligence gathered as of Jan. 23, lays out in detail how the planning progressed and how such a campaign could proceed if Ukraine revived it.
The document — which in places bears the marking HCS-P, indicating that certain information is derived from human sources — details how officers of the Main Directorate of Intelligence, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s military intelligence service, could plan deniable attacks that would avoid implicating the Ukrainian government itself.

The Discord Leaks

Dozens of highly classified documents have been leaked online, revealing sensitive information intended for senior military and intelligence leaders. In an exclusive investigation, The Post also reviewed scores of additional secret documents, most of which have not been made public.
Who leaked the documents? Jack Teixeira, a young member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, was arrested Thursday in the investigation into leaks of hundreds of pages of classified military intelligence. The Post reported that the individual who leaked the information shared documents with a small circle of online friends on the Discord chat platform.
What do the leaked documents reveal about Ukraine? The documents reveal profound concerns about the war’s trajectory and Kyiv’s capacity to wage a successful offensive against Russian forces. According to a Defense Intelligence Agency assessment among the leaked documents, “Negotiations to end the conflict are unlikely during 2023.”
What else do they show? The files include summaries of human intelligence on high-level conversations between world leaders, as well as information about advanced satellite technology the United States uses to spy. They also include intelligence on both allies and adversaries, including Iran and North Korea, as well as Britain, Canada, South Korea and Israel.
What happens now? The leak has far-reaching implications for the United States and its allies. In addition to the Justice Department investigation, officials in several countries said they were assessing the damage from the leaks.
The Washington Post obtained the document, which has not been previously reported, from a trove of intelligence material allegedly leaked to a Discord chatroom by Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. The Department of Defense declined to comment.
President Vladimir Putin’s 2015 intervention in Syria to help the embattled Assad regime retain power during the civil war has created a permanent presence of thousands of Russian troops there. The deployment, which includes advanced warplanes and air defense systems, has bolstered Moscow’s regional presence but exists in an environment Russia does not totally control. Moscow transferred some troops and hardware from Syria to the Ukraine battlefield last fall, which may have led Kyiv to assess that their departure created vulnerabilities.
Attacks on Russian forces in Syria “might raise the threat level to the point where the Russians would need to call in reinforcements,” which could help the war effort back in Ukraine, said Aron Lund, a fellow at the think tank Century International.
Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the chief of Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence, declined to comment.
This image is part of the leaked classified material that was circulated in a Discord chatroom and obtained by The Washington Post. The Post informed the Department of Defense that this imagery would be published with this story. The top secret document reveals that, in 2022, Ukraine planned attacks against Russian targets in Syria, but called off those operations. The document presents an “alternative analysis” of potential targets and the “assessed likelihood of escalation” from Moscow “if Kyiv decided to advance the plan.” (Obtained by The Washington Post)
During planning in December, the document states, Ukrainian military intelligence officers favored striking Russian forces using unmanned aerial vehicles and starting “small,” or possibly limiting their strikes only to forces of the Wagner mercenary group.
Ukrainian officers considered training operatives of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the military force of Syria’s Kurdish-controlled autonomous northeast, to strike Russian targets and conduct “unspecified ‘direct action’ activities along with UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] attacks,” according to the document.
As planning occurred last fall, the SDF sought training, air defense systems and a guarantee that its role would be kept secret in exchange for supporting Ukrainian operations. The leadership of the SDF also forbade strikes on Russian positions in Kurdish areas, the document says.
“The documents that you are talking about regarding our forces are not real; our forces have never been a side in the Russian-Ukrainian war,” said Farhad Shami, an SDF spokesperson.
The document indicates that Turkey was aware of the planning, stating that Turkish officials “sought to avoid potential blowback” and suggested that Ukraine stage its attacks from Kurdish areas instead of those in the north and northwest held by other rebel groups, some of them backed by Turkey.
Turkey opposes the SDF, however, and considers its core military element, the People’s Protection Units or YPG, to be a terrorist group. The SDF is the main partner of U.S. troops in Syria, where they often share bases on an ongoing mission to stifle the resurgence of the Islamic State.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry and embassy in the United States did not return requests for comment.
While it is not clear how much Ankara knew about Kyiv’s plan, having Ukraine help arm its enemy may not have been intolerable if Turkey thought it might draw a violent response from Moscow, according to a former U.S. official who worked in the region, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due of the sensitive nature of the intelligence.
“Turkey’s goal in the region is to eliminate the military capability and leadership of the SDF,” the former official said. “If Turkey were to be greeted with such a plan, it would be in their interest to bait the Ukraine-SDF alliance into drawing the wrath of Russia.”
Moscow probably knows the location of SDF units and would not face great difficulties in striking them, because SDF forces often operate near Russian military bases, the former official said.
Lund said that Ukraine’s plans represented a “high-risk project for the SDF,” which needs to maintain a good working relationship with Russia. “For the SDF to agree to something like this — it seems like a real gamble,” said Lund, who also works as a Middle East analyst at the Swedish Defense Research Agency.
In November, according to the leaked document, Ukrainian military intelligence officers identified potential logistical constraints to their ambitions, including “issues with intra-Kurdish border controls and establishing a base of operations.” By Dec. 29, the officers appear to have found out that Zelensky had halted their planning. It is unclear why Zelensky directed the HUR to cease planning operations, but the document assesses that he may have done so for a variety of reasons: U.S. pressure, Ukraine’s limited supply of drones or doubts about whether the attacks could succeed.
Another factor could have been the “comparative success” of military intelligence operations in Russia, the document states. The HUR has been aggressive in staging sabotage, assassination and destabilizing operations in Russian-controlled areas in Ukraine, according to other documents in the leaked trove. These areas probably offer advantages in logistics, language and other variables.
Kyiv is unlikely to revive the plans or “impose significant costs on Russia in Syria” without support from the United States and Turkey, the document says. If Ukraine did proceed, attacks could “incur a Russian response targeting U.S. interests in the region if support for an operation is attributed to the United States.”
The document goes into detail about what a campaign of “notional” covert Ukrainian attacks might look like, ranking them by the likelihood that they would cause Russia to escalate in response. It weighs attacks on well-defended “priority” Russian facilities near Damascus and the Syrian coast, which would be the most dangerous but the most costly for Russia, against strikes on “Russia-affiliated petroleum infrastructure” in central Syria, which is poorly protected by air defense but would only impose “modest costs” on Russia, particularly on the Wagner group.
The Syrian battlefield “provides deniability options” to Ukraine, the document states, because it could attack Russian positions previously struck by Syrian rebels, launch attacks from rebel or even regime-held areas, and attribute attacks to “front, defunct or active nonstate groups.”
Ranked highest on the escalation graph is an attack on a “key Russian facility,” which is accompanied by a graphic outlining an attack on Latakia’s Bassel al-Assad Airport, which shares facilities with Hmeimim Air Base, Russia’s main military base in Syria. The graphic is dated to 2018 — the same year that the air base was attacked by a “swarm” of unmanned aerial vehicles — and says “Syrian opposition UAV used in attack.” It shows the departure point and flight path of the UAV from a location in Idlib governorate around 50 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of the air base and illustrates how it flew over the air base itself. The departure point roughly corresponds to the same place from which Russia alleged the drones had taken off.
The document also suggests such a facility could be attacked using “USVs,” or uncrewed surface vessels, and an inset map highlights the Russian naval base at Tartus. Ukraine has dispatched one-way uncrewed boat drones with onboard explosives to attack Russian ships in the Black Sea.
The chart also posits an attack profile on “oil and gas infrastructure,” including a photograph of the “Wagner-associated Jihar gas plant,” which The Post geolocated to gas fields near the town of Palmyra. The image is dated Jan. 5 and suggests the possible munitions, staging area and target types. It suggests the use of “Group 1 or 2 UAVs,” probably a reference to how the U.S. Defense Department ranks the size, weight and speed of its unmanned aerial vehicles from lowest to highest.
At the lowest end of targets risking Russia’s escalation, the document lists attacks on Wagner positions. A photograph shows parked vehicles and structures at what is identified as a Wagner facility near the Syrian town of Furqlus.
In lightly defended areas like that, “a determined enemy with a bit of technological know-how could do some damage,” Lund said.
The leaked assessment acknowledges that attacks like these could “complicate” U.S. coalition operations in eastern Syria if Russia “more aggressively” polices Syrian airspace or moves air defense weapons.
It mentions a real but previously undisclosed Nov. 27 incident in which a Russian SA-22 air defense system based in eastern Syria fired on a U.S. MQ-9 drone. The drone was not struck by the missile, a U.S. official said.

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