Zelenskiy plans bold attacks on Russia in private, leaks show – The Washington Post

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We are publishing the full translation of the article that has caused a lot of hype. In fact, in our opinion, this publication does absolutely no harm to Ukraine. Therefore, it is worth reading it in full.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has won the trust of Western governments by refusing to use weapons they provide for attacks on Russian territory and prioritizing strikes on Russian troops inside Ukraine’s borders.

But behind closed doors, the Ukrainian leader has suggested going in a more daring direction-occupying Russian villages to gain leverage over Moscow, blowing up a pipeline that supplies Russian oil to NATO member Hungary, and privately dreaming of long-range missiles to hit targets inside Russia’s borders, according to secret U.S. intelligence documents detailing his internal communications with top aides and military leaders.

The documents, which have not been previously made public, are part of a wider leak of U.S. secrets shared on the Discord messaging platform and obtained by The Washington Post. They reveal a leader with aggressive instincts that contrast sharply with his public image as a calm and stoic statesman who can withstand Russia’s brutal onslaught. This data was obtained through intercepted digital communications, providing an unexpected glimpse into Zelenskyy’s plans against the backdrop of Russian missile attacks, infrastructure attacks, and war crimes.

The Pentagon, where senior US military leaders were briefed on the issues raised in the leaked documents, did not deny the authenticity of the materials.

In some cases, Zelensky restrains the ambitions of his subordinates, and in some cases he proposes risky military actions.

In a meeting in late January, Zelenskyy proposed that Ukraine “strike at Russia” while simultaneously deploying Ukrainian ground forces to the enemy’s territory to “occupy unspecified Russian border towns,” as stated in one of the documents classified as “top secret.” The goal would be to “give Kyiv leverage in negotiations with Moscow,” the document says.

In a separate meeting in late February with General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Zelenskyy “expressed concern” that “Ukraine has no long-range missiles capable of reaching the locations of Russian troops in Russia, and has nothing with which to attack them.” Zelenskiy then “suggested that Ukraine attack unspecified locations in Rostov,” a region in western Russia, using drones instead, another classified document says.

At a meeting in mid-February with Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko, Zelenskiy suggested that Ukraine “blow up” the Soviet-built Druzhba pipeline, which supplies oil to Hungary. “Zelenskiy emphasized that… Ukraine should simply blow up the pipeline and destroy Hungarian [Prime Minister] Viktor Orban’s alleged industry, which is largely based on Russian oil,” the document says.

In detailing the conversation, intelligence officials acknowledge that Zelenskyy “expressed anger toward Hungary, and thus could have made exaggerated, meaningless threats,” but this caveat does not accompany other accounts of Zelenskyy in which he suggested bold military action; Although Hungary is nominally part of the Western alliance, Orban is considered the most Kremlin-friendly European leader.

Asked if he had proposed occupying part of Russia, Zelenskyy dismissed the US intelligence allegations as “fantasies” in an interview with The Post in Kyiv, but defended his right to use unconventional tactics to defend his country.

“Ukraine has every right to defend itself, and we are doing it. Ukraine has not occupied anyone, but vice versa,” Zelensky said. “When so many people have died, when there are mass graves, when our people are being tortured, I am sure that we must use any tricks.”

The use of long-range missiles to strike Russian territory is a particularly sensitive topic for the White House, which has long been concerned that the conflict in Ukraine could spiral out of control and lead to a catastrophic confrontation between the United States and Russia, the world’s largest nuclear powers.

While Washington has provided Zelenskyy with billions of dollars worth of advanced weapons, President Biden has consistently denied the Ukrainian leader a long-range ATGM (short for Army Tactical Missile System) capable of hitting targets up to 185 miles away. Since the beginning of the war, Biden has stated that the United States “does not encourage or allow Ukraine to strike outside its borders.”

Asked about intelligence reports that suggested he was weighing the possibility of using long-range missiles to strike Russia, Zelensky said that this was not something Ukraine was doing. “No one in our country gave orders for offensive actions or strikes on Russian territory,” he said.

It is unclear whether the United States has shared stories about Zelenskiy’s collusion with allied countries, but the Ukrainian president continues to enjoy strong support from Western governments, which are providing him with increasingly sophisticated weapons.

Last week, Britain became the first Western country to provide Ukraine with long-range missiles. The range of Storm Shadow cruise missiles with stealth functions is 155 miles, which is significantly higher than the 50-mile range of HIMARS launchers provided by the United States.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Friday that the missile would give Ukraine “the best chance” to defend itself and would be used only “within Ukrainian sovereign territory.” A spokesperson for the British Embassy in Washington declined to comment on whether the leaked remarks could force London to suspend its decision.

The Biden administration claims that Zelensky’s intercepted comments are not a reason to deny ATASMS.

“Ukraine has repeatedly committed to using U.S.-provided weapons responsibly and strategically when necessary to counter Russian aggression, and we are confident that this will continue to be the case,” said a U.S. defense official, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive topic.

Since last year, Zelenskyy has promised that Ukraine will never use American weapons to strike Russian territory, and the White House believes he has fulfilled that promise.

“President Zelenskiy has fulfilled the promises he made to President Biden, and we don’t believe that will change,” a senior administration official said.

One of the reasons for not providing long-range missiles is the “relatively small number of ATGMs” the United States has for its own defense needs, General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in an interview with Defense One.

Zelenskiy, however, said he believes the United States is not sending weapons because it does not trust Kyiv.

“I think they are afraid that we can use it on the territory of Russia,” Zelensky told The Post. “But I would always say to our partners… ‘We have a priority goal for which we spend the ammunition packages that we receive, and we spend them on the de-occupation of purely Ukrainian territories,'” he said.

While there is no evidence that Ukraine has used Western missiles to hit Russian territory, the same cannot be said for Kyiv’s use of armed drones.

Explosions caused by unmanned aerial vehicles have become a regular occurrence in Russia, particularly in Rostov, where a drone crashed into an oil refinery this month. Ukrainian officials often speak coyly about these incidents, hinting at their responsibility but not taking direct blame.

Two December drone attacks on Russia’s Engels air base in Saratov, more than 370 miles from the Ukrainian border, showed “that we are capable of operating many kilometers further than they could have expected,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said in an interview earlier this year.

This month, Russia accused Ukraine of staging a drone attack to assassinate President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. Video footage circulated on social media and confirmed by The Post shows two drones heading toward the Kremlin at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time. Ukrainian officials, including Zelenskyy, have strongly denied this claim.

Not all classified documents show that Zelenskyy is pushing for more aggressive actions.

One document describes a plan developed by Ukraine’s military intelligence last year to conduct covert attacks on Russian troops in Syria with the secret help of the Kurds. This detailed plan would have opened up a new battlefield thousands of kilometers away from Ukraine, but in December Zelenskiy ordered his aides to “stop planning operations against Russian forces in Syria,” the document says, without explaining why the plan was canceled.

In a recent interview, Zelenskyy said he reserves the right to consider a range of military options.

“I have many generals with whom I work,” Zelensky said. “And these are my personal conversations.”

“The war is about the occupation of Ukraine,” he added. “Ukraine must win.”

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