Russia is plotting to stage acts of provocation to create a pretext to invade Ukraine, a US official has said.
“The Russian military plans to begin these activities several weeks before a military invasion, which could begin between mid-January and mid-February,” the official said. “We saw this playbook in 2014 with Crimea.”
A Pentagon spokesman said Russian operatives were planning a “false-flag” operation, to allow Moscow to accuse Ukraine of preparing an attack. Russia has dismissed the claims.
“We do have information that indicates that Russia is already working actively to create a pretext for a potential invasion, for a move on Ukraine,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters on Friday.
Kirby’s comments came shortly after the plans for the operation were confirmed by a U.S. official, who said the US was laying the groundwork for accusing Ukraine of preparing an “imminent attack” against Russian forces.
The accusation comes after a week of US-Russian talks aimed at defusing tensions. Russia has stationed thousands of soldiers close to Ukraine’s border. This has sparked fears that Russia may invade Ukraine.
The US official’s remarks follow an earlier statement by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who told reporters about intelligence that Russia was laying the groundwork to try to fabricate a pretext for invading Ukraine. “We saw this playbook in 2014. They are preparing this playbook again,” Sullivan said.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also released a statement on Friday accusing Russia of plotting to provoke its own forces and place the blame on Kyiv, adding “the military units of the aggressor country and its client states receive orders to prepare for such provocations.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: LA TIMES