According to secret US military documents, the UK has sent as many as 50 special soldiers to Ukraine. It appears that British special forces may have made up more than half of the Western soldiers present in Ukraine in February and March of this year.
It is unclear what the special forces may have been up to or if the troop strength has been kept constant. The Special Air Service (SAS) is just one of many secretive elite military formations in the United Kingdom.
The British government has not disclosed that special forces have been active in Ukraine since the start of the war. Before the Russian invasion, in June 2021, the UK embassy in Kyiv claimed that its special forces had carried out training activities with Ukrainian forces.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) was unable to comment on the revelations or respond to inquiries about recent UK troop deployments to Ukraine. However, the department said in a tweet that the leak “demonstrated a serious level of inaccuracy.”
The confidential US military and intelligence data were shared on the gaming platform Discord; the authenticity of the leaked materials has not been confirmed. The files’ original creator is currently unknown.
Recent days have seen an influx of media coverage, mostly focused on the conflict in Ukraine, based on the papers that have been making the rounds on social media and online discussion forums.
The New York Times and other US media sites have stated that US officials have acknowledged that many of the documents are real and were first posted online unaltered, despite some of the files appearing to have been tampered with.
The Guardian has looked at some of the stolen files, which include photos of at least two “daily updates” about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The documents have been marked up in a way that makes it clear they were intended for top-level US defense officials.
Labeled “secret,” the two daily updates appear to have been created in February and March of this year. They contain up-to-date information on military operations, logistics, arms delivery, and training of Ukrainian forces by the United States and its NATO allies.
Among the documents is a section labeled “US/NATO SOF in UKR,” which appears to provide a count of the number of Western special troops currently stationed in Ukraine. There are claimed dates of February and March 2023 on the documents.
US officials at the time estimated that 50 of the 97 special troops from NATO countries involved in Ukraine were British, as evidenced by the documents. The United States and France would have only sent 14 and 15 special forces, respectively. Therefore this number is far greater.
The documents appear to provide a partial overview of US military evaluations of the war’s status and allied support for Ukraine. These documents do not explain special forces deployments from the United Kingdom and other countries.
No specifics regarding the organization of the troops were revealed, but the documents imply the special forces might be part of a NATO special forces command managed by the military alliance’s special operations headquarters.
The British military has a number of covert units, including the 18 (UKSF) Signals Regiment and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment.
Carrying out covert operations as well as covert surveillance and reconnaissance operations, these units are the most secretive organizations in the British Army. Special forces are not subject to external parliamentary oversight like the intelligence agencies are.