Update on the Conflict in Ukraine

By: Colin Schroyer

Just a little past the one-year mark, the conflict sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to develop as each nation holds steadfast. As of early April, several international factors contribute to the current state of the greater Russo-Ukrainian War.

Most recently, several leaked documents have begun circulating on social media platforms such as Twitter and Telegram — a platform utilized in Russia and Western Europe. The records, dating from February 23rd to March 1st, contain information on the support of Ukraine from the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO.

The primary document appears to be a daily debriefing report with no clear information regarding Ukrainian operational strategies. It contains some details on material support for Ukraine, along with various relevant statistics. The Associated Press and other news outlets report the documents as routine debriefing reports explicitly labeled as “secret” or some close variation.

However, many have noted how the presented information regarding casualties and losses appears to be false compared to projected estimates. The document places Ukraine’s deaths somewhere between 16,000 and 17,500 — close to 15% of the estimated 100,000 casualties by the U.S. Along with other discrepancies downplaying Russian losses, many are led to suspect that some, or all, of the leaked documents to be doctored or falsified with the intent of spreading misinformation.

Among those who believe these documents to be purposeful misinformation is Mykhailo Podolyak, advisor for the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Through a post on his Telegram profile, Podolyak states: “Russia is looking for any way to intercept the information initiative… these are only standard elements of the operational game of Russian intelligence – and nothing more.” He elaborates on Russia’s “bluff,” citing how Russia would almost certainly not have made it public if actual military intelligence had been obtained. While there are believed to be different versions of the documents floating around the internet — which supports the belief that the documents were altered or wholly falsified — the essential contents remain the same: information regarding materials supplied and details surrounding a planned Ukrainian counterattack. No information was specified as to a time or place, but the document mentions 12 combat brigades, 6 of which were to be ready by March 31st and the remainder by the end of April.

Podolyak does not deny the possibility of a counterattack and even goes as far as to tease the operation. “As for the real counteroffensive plans,” Podolyak shares in his post, “the Russian troops will certainly be the first to familiarize themselves with them. I would assume that would happen very soon.”

The Pentagon and Department of Justice are conducting their own investigations on the source of these leaked documents, whether real or fake.

As for how this leaked information will affect the tide of the conflict long-term, only time will tell. Seeing as the documents were several weeks old upon circulating the internet, their usefulness (and legitimacy) remains to be seen.

Another significant development concerning the Ukraine crisis is that Finland successfully joined NATO. After an arduous journey of seeking approval, voting on bills, and meetings at international summits, Finland became a member of NATO on April 4th, 2023. The decision to drop its neutrality came directly from the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. While this addition to the organization will have important ramifications worldwide, it certainly spells bad news for Russia.

Most simply, the border Russia shares with NATO-aligned countries has doubled due to Finland’s accession to the organization. Furthermore, the Finnish military now has a basis to act against Russia, and NATO countries, such as the U.S., can provide Finland with supplies, equipment, and weaponry.

This is a significant setback to Russia, which prioritized preventing the spread of NATO toward Russia. Ironically, this prevention effort was a cited reason for the invasion of Ukraine, which in turn spurred Finnish leaders to join NATO. Russia has made it clear that it will take “retaliatory measures” if threatened by actions made because of this new allyship.

In related news, Evan Gershkovich, a journalist for the Wall Street Journal, was charged by Russian authorities with espionage, as reported by Russian state news on Friday, April 7th. He

denied the allegations, stating he was merely functioning in Russia as a journalist. Gershkovich is the first American to be detailed in Russia under espionage charges since the Cold War.

As the conflict between Ukraine and Russia continues, support from all around the world continues to grow.

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