Sunday, January 16, 2022

Russia could use a false flag operation as a pretext to invade Ukraine, US officials warn

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The intelligence shows that Russia is “laying the groundwork to be able to fabricate a pretext for an invasion,” the US claims

Russia is looking for an “excuse” to invade Ukraine and may invent an attack on itself to do so, US Undersecretary Victoria Nuland said.

She told Sky News: “This is straight out of the Russian playbook: trying to create that pretext, through sabotage operations, through false flag operations, through blaming the other guy, to give an excuse to go in or do it looks like the Ukrainians were the aggressors, although perhaps the first aggression was even carried out by Russians against Russians to blame the Ukrainians.”

On Friday, a US government official said Russia was planning an operation “made to look like an attack on them or Russian speakers in Ukraine as an excuse to go in.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Russia has “prepositioned a group of agents to conduct a false flag operation.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the intelligence agencies show that Russia is “laying the groundwork to have the ability to fabricate a pretext for an invasion.”

However, Russia has denied the allegations.

On Friday, Ukraine accused Russia of a cyber attack on several official websites.

Before the sites went offline, a warning “Prepare for the worst” appeared to Ukrainians.

This comes after a week of talks between the US and Russia to ease tensions, which Russia has described as “unsuccessful”. There are differences of opinion on fundamental issues.

Ms Nuland, who is a former US ambassador to NATO and has focused on Ukraine during three US presidencies, said it was an “extremely worrying” situation.

“A nation doesn’t station 100,000 troops on another nation’s border and bring in their saboteurs without malicious or aggressive intent,” she said Sky news.

However, she said the US-Russia talks had not been a failure as Russia “came to the table” and had the opportunity to “hear a unified message from 30 allies, including Britain, saying : ‘Let us solve all problems through diplomacy, not through war’.”

On whether the US would be prepared to go to war with Russia if it invaded Ukraine, Ms Nuland said the US would “help the Ukrainians defend themselves” and “prepare massive consequences — economically and politically.” .

She added: “We cannot allow countries to change international borders by force – we will have a free-for-all.”

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace met with ministers in Sweden, Finland and Norway this week to discuss the crisis.

He said: “My discussions this week have been directly about deepening bilateral relations, common security and the consequences of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

“Our discussions were clear that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a strategic mistake that would violate the most fundamental freedoms and sovereignty.”

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