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Western Special Forces Present in Ukraine According to Leaked Documents

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According to leaked documents, Western special forces have been present in Ukraine. Credit: US Space Force / Haley Blevins / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Special forces belonging to several NATO member countries are present on the ground in Ukraine, according to US intelligence documents leaked online. Several big media publications have since reviewed the leaked documents.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, the West has supported Kyiv by supplying Ukrainian troops with equipment, munitions, and supplies, but has avoided any physical military footprint in the country.

The leaked documents did not specify where in Ukraine special forces were located or what they were doing. However, the leak did allege British special forces had the most numerous presence in the country. Other highly classified details surrounding a planned Ukrainian counter-offensive were also supposedly revealed.

NATO member special forces in Ukraine

One of the leaked documents, dated 23 March, indicates the number of special forces operators in Ukraine belonging to each country. Between February and March, the UK had the largest presence in the country, with 50 operators.

The UK was followed by fellow NATO member states, with Latvia apparently having deployed 17 special forces soldiers, France 15, the US 14, and just one from the Netherlands.

The US government has said that it is investigating the source of the leak. A tranche of classified files were leaked on Discord, a platform used by gamers and the popular AI image generator Midjourney.

“We will continue to investigate and turn over every rock until we find the source of this and the extent of it,” said US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Beyond the number of Western special forces allegedly present in Ukraine, the leaked documents, which are marked as “secret”, also detail updates about military operations, logistics, munitions deliveries, and scheduled training of Ukrainian forces by NATO allies.

British special forces

Despite the leak pointing to the UK as having the largest special force footprint in Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) had declined to comment. This is standard procedure for the British government, which maintains a policy of silence on special forces matters.

The UK Special Forces (USKF) consist of several units including the Special Air Service (SAS), Special Boat Service (SBS), Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), and the 18 Signal Regiment.

The USKF is supported further by the UK Special Forces Support Group (SFSG), mostly made up of soldiers from the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Marines.


The potential consequences of the leak are hard to determine because their validity has not been fully verified.

On Tuesday, the British MOD posted on Twitter, seemingly questioning the veracity of the leaked documents, although they did not specify which of these documents was being referred to.

“The widely reported leak of alleged classified US information has demonstrated a serious level of inaccuracy,” read the MOD’s tweet.

“Readers should be cautious about taking at face value allegations that have the potential to spread misinformation,” it continued.

On the other hand, some Pentagon officials are quoted as saying that the leaked documents are genuine.

In any case, Russia will likely point to the alleged presence of Western special forces in Ukraine as vindication for claims that Moscow is not only fighting Kyiv, but also NATO.

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