US officials have claimed Russia may soon conduct a false flag operation in eastern Ukraine to justify an invasion of the country’s western neighbor by Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin could stage fake attacks on Russian troops to justify an invasion of Ukraine, US officials have claimed.
Moscow has already deployed agents to conduct a “false flag operation” in eastern Ukraine, according to the White House, and it is feared this could give Russian forces an excuse to invade.
The agents are reportedly trained in urban warfare and could use explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s own proxy forces – with Ukraine being blamed for the acts – if Putin decides to press ahead with an invasion.
A false flag operation is a disguised act with the intention of blaming another party.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said US intelligence had not provided any assessment that the Russians, who have massed about 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, have finally decided on a military course of action.
Ministry of Defense of Russia/Newsflash)
But Mr Sullivan said Russia was laying the groundwork for an invasion under false pretenses should Putin decide to go that route. He said the Russians had planned “sabotage activities and intelligence operations” accusing Ukraine of preparing for its own impending attack on Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.
A US official said on Friday the intelligence findings show that Russia is also laying the groundwork through a social media disinformation campaign that portrays Ukraine as an aggressor preparing an imminent attack on Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine.
“We are concerned that if diplomacy fails to achieve its goals, the Russian government is preparing for an invasion of Ukraine that could result in widespread human rights abuses and war crimes,” the official said.
The Russian military “plans to start these activities several weeks before a military invasion, which could begin between mid-January and mid-February,” the official said.
Russian Defense Ministry/east2west news)
The United States warned that the threat of a Russian military invasion was high as the dialogue promised by Moscow had reached an impasse.
The Kremlin has insisted on US guarantees that the West will block neighboring Ukraine from joining NATO and reverse the alliance’s decades-long expansion in Europe.
The United States has labeled the claims “non-starters.”
It comes after government websites were hit by a devastating cyberattack on Friday that saw officials issue a chilling threat to “be scared and expect the worst”.
A spokesman for the White House National Security Council said it was not yet clear who was responsible for the cyberattack, but that President Joe Biden had been briefed.
“We are in contact with the Ukrainians and have offered our support while Ukraine investigates the impact, nature and recovery from the incidents. We currently have no attribution,” the spokesperson said.
It follows months of troop buildup by Russia near the Ukrainian border, with 126,000 assault troops now amassed near the front lines.
TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Ima)
A 250-mile border of trenches, artillery and assault troops has been dug on both sides – with Ukrainian forces in defense.
They will be supported by tanks, artillery, armored infantry fighting vehicles and up to 30 assault and landing ships and boats prepared for an amphibious assault.
The front line, which runs through the contested Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donestk, is threatened by pro-Russian separatists, backed by regular and special forces from Russia.
Biden has warned of serious economic consequences for Russia if Putin launches an invasion of Ukraine. Russia denies plans to attack Ukraine.
Sergei Savostyanov / TASS)
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned on Friday that Moscow will not wait forever for the West’s response, saying he expects a written response from the US and NATO next week.
Mr Lavrov described Moscow’s demands for binding guarantees that NATO would not embrace Ukraine or other former Soviet states or deploy its forces and weapons there as essential to advancing diplomatic efforts to defuse rising tensions over Ukraine.
He argued that NATO deployments and exercises near Russia’s borders pose a security challenge that needs to be addressed immediately.
“We have run out of patience,” Lavrov said at a press conference. “The West has been driven by hubris and has escalated tensions in violation of its commitments and common sense.”