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Secret British military papers were found at a bus stop in southern England revealing plans for a controversial warship to travel off Crimea last week and an extended presence in Afghanistan.
The 50-page documents were found in a rain-soaked heap behind a Kent bus stop early Tuesday morning, the BBC said, which said the Department of Defense had opened an investigation.
While some of the papers are categorized as “officially sensitive”, a relatively low rating, one about Britain’s future plans in Afghanistan was marked “Secret UK Eyes Only” and addressed to Defense Secretary Ben Wallace’s private secretary.
According to the BBC, the paper contains “very sensitive recommendations” on Britain’s military footprint in Afghanistan after NATO followed US President Joe Biden’s plan to withdraw all troops by September 11 this year.
The document “discusses an American request for British assistance in several specific areas and deals with the question of whether British special forces will remain in Afghanistan after the withdrawal is complete,” the BBC reported.
While no British have been killed in Afghanistan since Washington reached an agreement with the Taliban in February 2020, the newspaper said “this is unlikely to remain the status quo.”
The BBC said the papers also covered the planning of defense personnel prior to the passage of HMS Defender, a British naval destroyer, through contested waters off the Crimean coast last Wednesday.
The British government denied Moscow claims that a Russian ship fired warning shots while a jet dropped bombs in the destroyer’s path.
According to papers found at the bus stop, British officials ruled out an option that would have avoided the disputed waters entirely, which they believe Russia would have portrayed as evidence that “Britain is afraid / is running away”.
A ministry spokesman told the BBC: “As the public expects, the Department of Defense is planning carefully. This includes, as a matter of routine, the analysis of all potential factors that influence operational decisions. ”
The spokesman also said a staff member reported the loss of sensitive defense papers, adding, “It would be inappropriate to speak further.”