The destroyer of the British Royal Navy HMS Defender arrives at the port of Batumi on the Black Sea on June 26. Classified documents found at a bus stop discuss possible Russian reaction to HMS Defender crossing Ukrainian waters (AFP)
LONDON: Classified documents from the United Kingdom Department of Defense (Department of Defense) containing classified information about a warship and the British Army were discovered at a bus stop in the south east of England, according to a media report on Sunday.
The Ministry of Development said an official reported the loss of documents last week, which were found by a member of the public in a painful pile behind a bus stop in Kent early Tuesday morning, the BBC report reported.
A set of documents reportedly discusses Russia’s possible reaction to the passage of the HMS Defender off Ukrainian waters off the coast of Crimea on Wednesday, and another plans for a possible UK military presence in Afghanistan after the end of its operation. NATO led by the US there this year.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further,” said a Health Ministry spokesman, as it was confirmed that an investigation had been launched into the incident.
A member of the public, who wished to remain anonymous, found the 50 absurd pages of documents and contacted the BBC when he realized the sensitive nature of the content. The BBC believes the documents, which include emails and PowerPoint presentations, came from the office of a senior government official.
Documents related to the Royal Navy destroyer, HMS Defender, show that a mission described by the Ministry of Health as “innocent passage through the territorial waters of Ukraine”, with weapons covered and the helicopter of the ship stacked in its hangar, was carried out with the expectation that Russia can respond aggressively.
On Wednesday, more than 20 Russian aircraft and two coast guard ships overshadowed the warship as it sailed about 19km off the Crimean coast. Moscow’s Defense Ministry said a patrol boat fired warning shots and a jet dropped bombs on the destroyer’s path, but the UK government rejected the bill, saying no warnings had been issued.
The mission, dubbed “Op Ditroite”, was the subject of high-level discussions until Monday, documents show, with officials speculating on Russia’s reaction if HMS Defender sailed near Crimea.
The package also includes updates on arms export campaigns, including sensitive remarks on areas where Britain can compete with European allies. And there are briefing notes for last Monday’s UK-US Defense Summit, including remarks on the first months of US President Joe Biden.
Most of the documents are labeled “officially sensitive”, a relatively low level of classification used, according to the government, “where there is a clear and justified requirement to reinforce the ‘knowledge need'”.
However, a letter to British Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace’s private secretary, entitled “Secret UK Eyes Only”, outlines extremely sensitive recommendations for the UK military footprint in Afghanistan after the end of support. NATO’s operation ends after President Joe Biden decided earlier this year to withdraw US troops.
The document addresses a US request for British assistance in a number of specific areas and addresses the question of whether British Special Forces will remain in Afghanistan once the withdrawal is complete.
Due to the sensitivity of the document, the BBC said it had decided not to provide details that could endanger the safety of British and other officials in Afghanistan.