Among other results, Washington would analyze the hypothetical deaths of Vladimir Zelensky or Vladimir Putin
The Pentagon played four “joker” scenarios that could affect the conflict in Ukraine, including the sudden death of the presidents of Russia or Ukraine, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing a leaked document.
According to the NYT, the document was compiled by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in February and posted on social media in recent weeks, along with a host of other classified files, most relating to US involvement in the Ukrainian conflict.
The four outcomes considered by the DIA are the death of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky or Russian President Vladimir Putin, the removal of the leadership of the Russian Armed Forces, or a Ukrainian strike against the Kremlin.
DIA thinks Ukrainian strike on Kremlin could lead to “a large-scale military mobilization” in Russia or a threat from Putin to use tactical nuclear weapons.
Alternatively, US planners believe such a brazen escalation by kyiv could force Putin “to negotiate a settlement of the war.”
The NYT did not say which outcome the Pentagon considers more realistic, or how likely – in Washington’s eyes – of a Ukrainian strike on Moscow. The newspaper also refused to specify the consequences of the death of Zelensky or Putin, or a rotation of leaders within the Russian army.
The original copies of the document appear to have been deleted from the Discord server where they were originally posted, leaving this article the only source immediately available.
US officials did not confirm whether the document was authentic, but did not dispute its authenticity, the NYT noted. The Pentagon has taken a similar stance on all recent Ukraine-related leaks, acknowledging that some of the documents are “similar in format” to its intelligence briefings, without issuing direct confirmation.
Other files in the leak detail US war plans and the number of NATO special forces on the ground in Ukraine, the rapidly deteriorating munitions situation and Kiev’s military readiness. , and others “sensitive” material related to Ukraine, China, the Middle East and terrorism.
Moscow is considering the possibility that the documents are forgeries, released to the media in order to lull the Kremlin into a false sense of security about Ukraine’s military capabilities. “Because the United States is a party to the conflict [in Ukraine] and basically waging a hybrid war against us, such tricks to deceive the enemy, i.e. Russia, are possible,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters on Wednesday.