There is currently a lot of excitement about secret US documents. That means the documents were secret, but they were published in online networks, leaked in modern German. They concern the Ukraine war. Christian Mölling is an expert on defense policy and says what the publication of the documents means.
dr Christian Mölling is Deputy Director of the Research Institute of the DGAP and Head of the Center for Security and Defense.
SRF News: How dramatic is the publication of these secret papers?
Christian Mölling: We can’t really assess this yet. At this point, it’s at least a dramatic sign for the US security apparatus. He seems to have lost this data. You don’t know where the hole is either, so you can’t plug it. This means that all information that the USA wants to keep secret could be at risk.
We don’t know if it was a deliberate attempt to weaken it or if it was just a serious mistake.
Can one assess whether this is a similarly large security problem as with Wikileaks?
No. We don’t know if it was a deliberate attempt to weaken it or if it was just a serious mistake. Intent certainly makes a difference, both for the US and how far the leak affects the Ukraine conflict and other things.
What effects can such security leaks have in concrete terms?
On the one hand, it’s a loss of trust. It is further part of the information war that this information is there. Many questions now arise and may also hamper political or administrative decisions because it is not clear what the case is at this point in time. That means there is a deceleration. This can actually have repercussions on the war in Ukraine, because it’s not about how many weapons are there, but about which of the information is correct. Sometimes it is information that is banal. For example, the fact that the Ukrainians will eventually run out of Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles. This is a relatively logical story, because Russia will not supply arms to Ukraine.
Which of the pieces of information is disinformation that is deliberately being spread to create further confusion?
In other words: the content isn’t all that explosive?
The content we saw is probably not that explosive. But we don’t know what’s to come. I don’t know all the content. We are therefore dealing with a very dynamic situation, in which the content of the documents is important on the one hand, but the symbolism on the other. Because these documents, which are actually secret, are suddenly publicly available. Now the question is what information is there. Questions also arise at the level below: Which of the pieces of information are disinformation that is deliberately thrown into this stream of information flow to create further confusion?
It is still unclear who is responsible for these leaks. Who benefits from them?
At this point, it can be said that Russia is certainly benefiting to some extent. This does not mean that Russia leaked this information. We’ll see if anyone else benefits from it. It depends on the information that comes out. Those who benefit from a weakness in the American security apparatus benefit from it. There are many actors in the world, about as many as the US has security interests anywhere in the world.
Marc Allemann conducted the interview.