I can't believe this keeps happening: leaked Ukraine War plans spread in part through a Minecraft Discord server

(Image credit: SOPA Images (Getty))

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.

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.

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 The documents don't have specific details on the plan, and as they're more than a month old they may even be out of date at this point.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.

(Image credit: Aric Toler (Twitter))
Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.