US officials say the United States has information that Russia has pre-positioned a group of operatives to carry out a false flag operation to justify the invasion of Ukraine.
The revelation comes as the United States has urged Russia not to invade its neighbour.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration feared Russia would stage such an attack, saying it was similar to what Moscow did in 2014 when it blamed Ukraine. to prepare an attack on Russian forces and warned that it could happen between mid-January and mid-January. -February.
She said Russia had already sent agents trained in urban warfare who could use explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s own proxy forces in Ukraine, creating a pretext for President Vladimir Putin to order a reaction. military.
“We fear that the Russian government is preparing for an invasion into Ukraine which could lead to widespread human rights violations and war crimes if diplomacy fails to achieve its goals,” Ms Psaki said.
“We’ve seen this playbook before, including the widespread effort to spread misinformation, not just in Europe but in the global community,” she added.
She claimed the Kremlin was setting the stage for an attack through a social media disinformation campaign framing Kiev as the aggressor.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that much of the intelligence was gleaned from intercepted communications and observations of people’s movements.
President Joe Biden spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin several times last month, urging him not to intervene militarily in Ukraine and said the United States would “respond decisively” if Russia invaded Ukraine. ‘Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry had previously issued a statement on the matter, and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made suggestions on such a false flag operation during a press briefing on Thursday.
“Our intelligence community has developed information, which has now been declassified, that Russia is laying the groundwork for the possibility of fabricating the pretext for an invasion,” he told reporters. “We saw this playbook in 2014. They are preparing this playbook again and we, and the administration, will have more details on what we see as this potential pretense to share with the press over the next 24 hours. .”
The Ukrainian ministry also warned that “military units of the aggressor country and its satellites are ordered to prepare for such provocations”.
Western officials have met with Russia to demand a de-escalation of tensions between the nations.
The Kremlin denied the White House claims, saying they were based on “unsubstantiated” information.
On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow would not wait indefinitely for a Western response to its demands that the United States and NATO guarantee that the military alliance will not expand to Russia. is, saying he expects a written response next week.
He said NATO deployments and exercises near Russia’s borders pose a security problem that needs to be addressed immediately.
“We have lost patience,” Lavrov told a news conference. “The West has been driven by pride and exacerbated tensions in violation of its obligations and common sense.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report
The Independent Gt