Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has won the trust of Western governments by refusing to use the weapons they provide for attacks inside Russia and prioritizing the targeting of Russian forces inside Ukraine’s borders.
But behind closed doors, Ukraine’s leader has proposed going in a more audacious direction — occupying Russian villages to gain leverage over Moscow, bombing a pipeline that transfers Russian oil to Hungary, a NATO member, and privately pining for long-range missiles to hit targets inside Russia’s borders, according to classified U.S. intelligence documents detailing his internal communications with top aides and military leaders.
The documents, which have not been previously disclosed, are part of a broader leak of U.S. secrets circulated on the Discord messaging platform and obtained by The Washington Post. They reveal a leader with aggressive instincts that sharply contrast with his public-facing image as the calm and stoic statesman weathering Russia’s brutal onslaught. The insights were gleaned through intercepted digital communications, providing a rare look at Zelensky’s deliberations amid Russian missile barrages, infrastructure attacks and war crimes.
The Pentagon, where senior U.S. military leaders were briefed on the matters outlined in the leaked documents, did not dispute the authenticity of the materials.
In some cases, Zelensky is seen restraining the ambitions of his subordinates; in several others, he is the one proposing risky military actions. [Continue reading…]