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Ex-US Navy technician behind pro-Russian Twitter collective – WSJ   

The “Donbass Devushka” collective was an early sharer of the Pentagon leaks documents

A 37-year-old former US Navy officer is the face of the pro-Russian online collective ‘Donbass Devushka’, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has reported. The newspaper has backed up claims made by the pro-Ukrainian online movement NAFO, following their investigation into the collective.

‘Donbass Devushka’ (“Donbass Girl”) is reportedly a group of 15 individuals headed by Sarah Bils, a former US enlisted aviation electronics technician. The WSJ interviewed Bils about the key role the collective played in disseminating classified US materials exposing US spying and positions on Ukraine – commonly known as the Pentagon leaks.

Following an online probe that involved US-government funded Bellingcat, US Airman First Class Jack Teixeira was charged with improperly sharing the Pentagon leaks. While the Donbass Devushka accounts were apparently among the first to share some of the documents, Bils claims she has not broken any US laws and that another group administrator posted the files. 

“I obviously know the gravity of top-secret classified materials. We didn’t leak them,” she told the WSJ.

Bils served at the US naval air station on Whidbey Island until last November and was promoted to the E-7 rank in late 2022, the report said. She was discharged with honor and with the lower rank of E-5, though the reason for her demotion was not clear. She claimed in the interview that she left for medical reasons after suffering from PTSD. Her rank gave her access to some classified information.

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A 'NAFO' meme, posted to Twitter by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, August 28, 2022
Pro-Ukrainian NAFO troll chief outed as ‘Nazi’

A local news report from September 2021 mentions a Sarah Bils, 36, being involved in a high-speed collision on Whidbey Island, in which two local residents in another car were injured.

Bils has claimed to have Russian and Jewish heritage and even spoke with a Russian accent in podcasts she hosted. Her identity as “a regular Yankee girl, living in Oak Harbor” was reported in a Twitter thread on Sunday by Pekka Kallioniemi, who is a fellow at the University of Tampere in Finland. He credited NAFO, a pro-Kiev online movement known for the use of Shiba Inu dog images and trolling tactics, for outing her. 

Kallioniemi branded Bils a “grifter” and alleged that she was running propaganda for donations. She denied to the WSJ that she had sent money to the Russian military, which would have violated US sanctions. The “small” amount of money she had raised went to funding the collective’s operations and to charities in Serbia, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and the Palestinian territories, she claimed.

April 17, 2023 at 01:55PM

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