WASHINGTON – The Biden administration accused Moscow on Friday of sending saboteurs to eastern Ukraine to stage an incident that could provide Russian President Vladimir V. Putin with a pretext to order an invasion of all or part of the country .
The White House did not disclose details of the evidence it gathered to support its charge, although an official said it was a mix of intercepted communications and sightings of the movement of people. . In an email, a US official wrote that “Russia is preparing the ground for the possibility of fabricating a pretext for invasion, including through sabotage activities and information operations, accusing Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack on Russian forces in eastern Ukraine ”.
The official, who described the intelligence on condition of anonymity, added that, according to the assessment by US intelligence officials, “the Russian military plans to start these activities several weeks before a military invasion, which could start between mid-January and mid-February. . We saw this playbook in 2014 with Crimea. Russia annexed Ukraine that year.
The release was part of a strategy to try to prevent attacks by exposing them in advance. But without disclosing the underlying intelligence – some of which was provided to allies – the United States is opening itself to Russian accusations that it is fabricating evidence. In recent years, Russia has frequently recalled the deeply flawed intelligence dossier the United States built to invade Iraq, as part of an effort to discredit the CIA and other US intelligence agencies. as political agents.
The official said the United States had “information indicating that Russia has already prepositioned a group of agents to conduct a false flag operation in eastern Ukraine,” where Russian-backed forces are waging a bitter war of attrition with the Ukrainians. government. The agents “are trained in urban warfare and in the use of explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s own auxiliary forces.”
The US accusation also extended to disinformation operations, accusing the media of “Russians.” influential actors are already starting to fabricate Ukrainian provocations in state and social media to justify Russian intervention and sow division in Ukraine. These include, the official said, “the emphasis on narratives of the deterioration of human rights in Ukraine and the increased militancy of the Ukrainian leadership.”