The Wall Street Journal reports:
A social-media account overseen by a former U.S. Navy noncommissioned officer—a prominent online voice supporting Russia’s war on Ukraine—played a key role in the spread of intelligence documents allegedly leaked by Airman First Class Jack Teixeira, reposting files from obscure online chat rooms.
A purported Russian blogger known as Donbass Devushka, which translates as Donbas Girl, is the face of a network of pro-Kremlin social-media, podcasting, merchandise and fundraising accounts. But the person who hosted podcasts as Donbass Devushka and oversees these accounts is a Washington-state-based former U.S. enlisted aviation electronics technician whose real name is Sarah Bils.
Russia first intervened in the Donbas part of eastern Ukraine in 2014, and most of the recent fighting has focused on that area.
Ms. Bils, 37 years old, served at the U.S. naval air station on Whidbey Island until late last year, even as the accounts she had established and supervised glorified the Russian military and the paramilitary Wagner Group. They are among the most widely followed English-language social-media outlets promoting Russia’s views.
In an interview Saturday at her home in Oak Harbor, Wash., Ms. Bils said she is an administrator of the Donbass Devushka persona, and acknowledged raising funds and hosting podcasts under that name. She added, however, that she is one of 15 people “all over the world” involved in running the Donbass Devushka network. Ms. Bils declined to identify these people.
On April 5, the Donbass Devushka Telegram account posted four of the allegedly leaked classified documents to its 65,000 followers, according to a screenshot seen by The Wall Street Journal. That led several large Russian social-media accounts to pick up on the documents, after which the Pentagon launched an investigation. Ms. Bils says another administrator posted the four files. [Continue reading…]