Defence chiefs have cast doubt on claims within leaked Pentagon documents that UK special forces are operating inside Ukraine. The files indicate Western specialist troops have been in the war-ravaged country for some time.
One document, dated March 23, claims the UK has stationed 50 there. Latvia apparently sent 17 and France 15, plus 14 from the US and one from the Netherlands.
The Ministry of Defence claimed the papers “demonstrated a serious level of inaccuracy” – but US defence chiefs confirmed some of the leaked files are correct.
The troops’ missions and their current numbers, if any, are unknown since their activities are usually top-secret.
The most well-known UK special force is the Special Air Service (SAS).
Prior to Russia invading in February last year, the British embassy in Kyiv said that UK special forces had conducted training with Ukrainian military units.
The leaked documents – none of which are fully verified – are part of a dump of classified US military and intelligence files on Discord, an online platform used by gamers. Despite investigations, the source remains unknown.
They are also key to a series of reports concerning US assessments primarily about the war.
Although some files appear to have been doctored, US media outlets including The New York Times reported that officials admitted many of the documents were genuine and were initially shared online without alterations.
In a section of a file titled US/NATO SOF in UKR, there appears a “list” of Western special forces in the former Soviet republic.
The document claims that US officials assessed that of the 97 special forces troops from Nato countries that were active in Ukraine, 50 were British.
That would be more than three times the size of the contingents allegedly supplied by France and the US.
The documents suggested that the special forces could form part of a Nato special forces command coordinated by the Western military alliance’s special operations headquarters.
Precise details of how the forces are organised are not specified.
The UK’s special forces include the SAS, as well as the Special Boat Service and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment plus several other equally secretive military units such as the 18 (UKSF) Signals Regiment.
The units, which conduct undercover operations as well as covert surveillance and reconnaissance operations, are the UK military’s most secretive organisations.
Unlike the civilian intelligence services, British special forces are not subject to external Parliamentary oversight.
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