U.S., Western allies have special forces in Ukraine, leaked documents show

America and other Western nations have special forces operating on the ground in Ukraine, according to recently leaked classified documents.

The BBC reported on Wednesday that among dozens of those files—some of which were marked “top secret”—was a revelation that the U.S. had 14 special operatives in the war-torn country.

Fellow NATO member states Latvia, France, and the Netherlands had 17, 15, and one special operative in Ukraine respectively, according to the report. The U.K. had the largest contingent of special forces in the country, the BBC reported, with 50 troops on the ground.

The file cited by the BBC was one of several apparent U.S. military documents containing NATO information about Ukraine which were leaked at the end of last week.

The U.S. Special Forces, an elite division of the military, are deployed in various types of missions, including counterinsurgency and foreign internal defense.

According to the BBC, documents did not say where NATO forces were located in Ukraine, or what they were doing there.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby confirmed in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday that American forces were indeed operating in Ukraine.

“I won’t talk to the specifics of numbers and that kind of thing,” he said. “But…there is a small U.S. military presence at the embassy in conjunction with the Defense Attaché’s Office to help us work on accountability of the material that is going in and out of Ukraine. So they’re attached to that embassy and to that…defense attaché.”

A spokesperson for the Pentagon referred Fortune to Tuesday’s statement on the leak, which suggested many of the documents circulating online were legitimate, when asked for a comment on the BBC’s report.

“We’re still investigating how this happened, as well as the scope of the issue,” Chris Meagher, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, said at the time. “There have been steps to take a closer look at how this type of information is distributed and to whom. We’re also still trying to assess what might be out there.”

However, he did note that some of the images being shared on social media appeared to have been altered.

In a statement published on Twitter Tuesday, Britain’s Ministry of Defence urged those reading any supposed leaked documents to exercise caution about “taking at face value allegations that have the potential to spread disinformation.”

The U.K. MoD referred Fortune to this statement when asked about the BBC’s report.

Spokespeople for the Latvian and Dutch governments were not immediately available for comment when contacted by Fortune.

France has denied the presence of French soldiers in Ukraine, French news outlet Le Monde reported over the weekend.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously accused NATO—whose member countries have provided Ukraine with billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and other military equipment—of participating in the conflict.

NATO has long been a point of contention for Russia, which launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and has demanded that the country never be permitted to join the military alliance.

However, the war in Ukraine has actually triggered eastward expansion of NATO, with Finland—which shares a border with Russia—joining the coalition last week in a bid to strengthen its defenses. The Kremlin labeled the move a “violation of our security and our national interests.”


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