US says Russia preparing ‘false flag’ operation as excuse to invade Ukraine

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Going back to the familiar “playbook”, Russia is plotting a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine, a “false flag” operation that, despite a week of intense U.S.-Russian negotiations, has apparently failed to free Moscow from its regional aggression plan, U.S. officials said on Monday. Five said.

The White House also said Moscow was using social media to launch a disinformation campaign to paint Ukraine, a former Soviet republic interested in joining the Western alliance, as an aggressor who would attack Russia and must be tamed.

“We are concerned that the Russian government is preparing for an invasion of Ukraine that, if diplomacy fails to achieve its goals, could lead to widespread human rights abuses and war crimes,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

In addition to disinformation campaigns, such excuses include sabotage, she said.

on Friday, Kiev reports cyber attack On about 70 government and other websites, they were temporarily shut down. It was unclear who was responsible, but a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the incidents part of an effort to “undermine” the country.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has assured Ukraine access to the alliance’s malware information-sharing platform.

Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and occupied it Crimea After a similar series of publicity work. Moscow also supports separatist rebels fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine in a long-simmering conflict that has claimed thousands of Ukrainian lives.

In recent months, Russia has amassed about 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine and has moved heavy weapons behind manpower. There were reports of live-fire drills last week.

“We’ve seen this script before,” Psaki said.

Citing a new U.S. intelligence report, Psaki says Russia has sent operatives trained in urban warfare who could use explosives to sabotage Russia’s own proxy forces if Russian President Vladimir Putin decides to go ahead – bringing the Blame Ukraine for these actions – along with the invasion.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby described the intelligence as “very credible.” Experts say intelligence findings suggest a military incursion could begin between mid-January and mid-February, in part to freeze the muddy plains between the two countries and make it easier for Russia to move heavy equipment. Enter Ukraine.

Horrific accusations of Moscow’s intentions from across the government — the State Department, the Pentagon, and the White House — mark an unpleasant end to a relatively civil but inconclusive past week Diplomatic conference involving the US, Russia, NATO and most of Europe.

Meetings by top U.S. diplomats on bilateral venues with Russian officials and other NATO and European allies have made little noticeable progress in de-escalating tensions in Ukraine.

Putin insisted that Washington’s agreement that Ukraine would never be allowed to join NATO was “impossible” for both the United States and the transatlantic alliance, insisting that any country that wanted to be part of NATO could apply.

The Russian president has also demanded that NATO withdraw its expanding presence in Eastern Europe. Analysts say Putin’s overarching goal is to try to maintain a degree of control over events in the former Soviet Union, including in now-independent countries such as Ukraine.

“I think his goal is absolutely to keep the US and NATO out of what he sees as Russia’s sphere of influence, the former Soviet states,” Lyanna Fix, a resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, said of the former KGB Agent said.

After meeting with Russian and European officials this week, a senior U.S. diplomat said he thought war seemed more likely than ever.

“Right now, we are facing a security crisis in Europe,” Michael Carpenter, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said at a news conference. “The drums of war are loud, and the rhetoric has become quite jarring.”

Jake Sullivan, the Biden administration’s national security adviser, previewed growing concerns about Russia on Thursday, saying that while Putin’s final design may not be clear, the former world power is clearly gearing up for an invasion .

Some analysts saw Russia’s willingness to engage in negotiations last week as a feint, a gesture of willingness to engage in negotiations when diplomacy was not the real intention.

“Putin has calculated the risks of going all the way into Ukraine,” Fiona Hill, a Russia expert and former National Security Council official, said on a podcast from the Center for a New American Security. “If he’s not ready to do something and deliver, he’s not going to threaten it.”

Russia said in talks this week that it had no plans to invade Ukraine. But it also stood firm and said it hoped the United States would respond in writing to a series of demands.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday his government would not wait indefinitely.

“We’re running out of patience,” Lavrov told a news conference. “The West is driven by hubris, heightening tensions and violating its obligations and common sense.”

Moscow and Washington, along with many European countries, have agreed that there is room for discussion on the issue of transparency in missile deployments and military exercises — but few other issues, and not at the heart of Ukraine’s sovereignty.