In a blunder that's certainly going to make Vladimir Putin’s head spin, Russian defense officials, including the Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, toured the ISS Reshetnev satellite factory near Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
In several media photoshoots however blueprints and specifications were actually caught in the photo opportunities and were spread around the Russian Ministry of Defense agency's website.
The Press Association and Getty Images then propagated those photo-op images to other websites. By the time anyone noticed the leak it was too late.
The would be secret hardware that was in the photographs included information on the never-before-seen Repei satellites. The two geostationary satellites, Repei-S and Repei-V, have a pair of large antennae, meaning they could either be communications or intelligence-collecting satellites.
Bart Hendrickx, in a report for HIS Markit, said if the satellites are designed for signals intelligence, they “would represent an expansion of Russia’s intelligence collection capabilities in an area where … Moscow’s capabilities lag behind those of China and the US.”
Or, Hendrickx said, “Repei” could be an alternate name for “Sfera,” a line of satellites the ISS Reshetnev is reported to be manufacturing with similar characteristics as the leaked “Repei."
Russia however has a history of such information being leaked, which has experts questioning as to whether the leak was actually an accident or intentional propaganda.
A few years back Russian State Television leaked classified information on the Status-6, a nuclear torpedo. This was a blatant show of propaganda to strike fear into the enemy.
However this particular leak didn't receive the same attention as the nuclear torpedo and it also was removed from the Russian Ministry of Defense website.