Classified military documents have yet again been blasted out into the world by a gaming community, and for once it's not War Thunder's fault. The documents in question are related to US and NATO plans to support Ukraine's military effort against the ongoing Russian invasion, and according to Bellingcat researcher Aric Toler (via Vice), an early leak point was an unofficial Minecraft Discord server.
Some of the leaked documents eventually found their way to 4chan, where—in classic internet fashion—they were being shared to win an argument. The 4chan docs appear to contain estimates of Ukrainian and Russian losses in the war, and a map of the contested city of Bakhmut.
The documents were also shared on Russian Telegram channels, although according to Toler, the Bakhmut map was not included among them. There were also two different sets of estimates, one indicating that Ukrainian combat losses are much lower than those of Russia, and then an edited image showing them as much higher.
Toler said on Twitter that 4chan was probably not the actual source of the leak, "though it would be extremely funny if it was." I can't say I disagree.
Put this dude in the Posters Hall of Fame if he's sent to a CIA black site in Poland for posting these on 4chan to win an argument against pepe and anime avatars anons pic.twitter.com/TzivfEgnJcApril 7, 2023
After that, he said an earlier version of the leak came from an "even dumber" source, which he told Vice was a Minecraft Discord server. This archive had even more images, including maps of Kharkiv and Kherson, and another equipment page.
But it later became apparent that another Discord server was the actual leak point. A Discord user named Lucca claimed to have found an archive of more than 100 classified files on a now-deleted Discord server, and posted more than 30 of them to a YouTuber's Discord server over March 1-2. On March 4, 10 of those files were posted to a Minecraft Discord, and then in early April, three ended up on 4chan and five were posted on Russian Telegram channels.
More original source: pic.twitter.com/SXFASQvTc1April 7, 2023
Unlike the War Thunder leaks of the past, which were unlawful (and theoretically punishable by death in some countries) but mostly harmless, this leak includes information on an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russian forces. The documents don't have specific details on the plan, and as they're more than a month old they may even be out of date at this point. But they do contain useful intelligence, such as the rate at which Ukrainian forces are using up HIMARS ammunition, which hasn't previously been disclosed. And, as the New York Times said, the leak represents a "significant breach of American intelligence."
The Pentagon is now investigating the leak. Lucca, who reportedly first found the leaked documents and shared them on Discord where they started to spread, seems to be preparing for the worst.