The US has been spying on Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, CNN reported on Sunday, citing alleged intelligence reports that were leaked online last week.
The reportedly classified files are supposedly related to the Ukraine-Russia conflict, including a daily dispatch from the battlefield.
The US allegedly surveilled the Ukrainian leader using signals intelligence, which the National Security Agency defines as communication intercepted from electronic devices. A source close to Zelensky was quoted as saying that the news is “unsurprising,” adding that officials in Kiev are “deeply frustrated” about the leak.
According to CNN, a US intelligence report said that in late February, Zelensky “suggested striking Russian deployment locations in Russia’s Rostov Oblast” with drones because Kiev does not have long-range weapons that can hit targets that far.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last year that Kiev promised not to use American-made HIMARS multiple rocket launchers to strike targets deep inside Russia. Several newspapers reported at the time that, in order to avoid additional escalation with Moscow, Washington modified the launchers delivered to Ukraine so they could not fire longer-range projectiles.
Drones have been used to attack airfields, oil depots, and other targets inside Russia after Moscow launched its military operation in the neighboring state in February 2022. The Russian Defense Ministry said last month that a Ukrainian modification of a Soviet-made Tu-141 Strizh (Swift) UAV was downed in Tula Region, 250km from the border with Ukraine.
Moscow claims that Kiev has used HIMARS and Western-supplied howitzers to kill civilians in Russia’s newly incorporated territories, which most countries still consider parts of Ukraine. The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, joined Russia after holding referendums in September.
Other leaked documents show that the US has also been spying on state officials in South Korea and Israel, two key allies of Washington.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s office said Seoul plans to discuss the “issues raised” as a result of the leak with the US. The Israeli government, meanwhile, rejected the “mendacious” claim from a leaked Pentagon document that the country’s intelligence agency, Mossad, was encouraging its staff and citizens to participate in street protests against the planned judicial reform.
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