Russia Prepares Pretext to Invade Ukraine: US Official | Conflict News
Russia is preparing to create a pretext for a broader invasion of Ukraine and has already prepositioned operatives to carry out a false flag operation, officials in Washington have warned, echoing statements from Kiev.
Russian special services are preparing provocations against Russian soldiers located in the separatist Moldovan region of Transnistria in order to accuse Kiev, Ukrainian military intelligence announced on Friday.
US officials expressed similar sentiments. Russian influencers are already beginning to fabricate Ukrainian provocations in state and social media to justify Russian intervention and sow divisions in Ukraine, a US official told Reuters news agency on Friday.
Moscow has already dispatched agents trained in urban warfare who could use explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russian proxy forces in eastern Ukraine, blaming Kiev if Russian President Vladimir Putin decides he wants to. go ahead with an invasion, a US official said. told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Moscow has accused Ukraine of drawing up plans to use force to regain control of areas controlled by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, charges Kiev denies [Alexei Alexandrov/AP Photo]
Moscow dismissed the claims as unfounded, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday, according to Russian news agency TASS.
Russia has amassed some 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and diplomatic talks to try to resolve the standoff have not borne fruit.
Russia is demanding that the United States and NATO provide written guarantees that the alliance will not expand eastward. Washington called those demands non-starters, but said it was willing to negotiate with Moscow on possible future offensive missile deployments in Ukraine and to limit U.S. and NATO military exercises in Eastern Europe. East.
A senior official in Kyiv warned on Friday that the current impasse raises life and death questions for Ukraine. Andriy Yermak, the head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyys’ office, added that most Ukrainians would defend the country.
Zelenskyy has offered to hold a meeting with US President Joe Biden and Russia’s Putin to discuss growing security concerns, Yermak said on Friday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow was not ready to wait forever for the United States and NATO to meet its security demands and that it wanted a detailed written response to every Russian proposal.
Lavrov said President Putin could then make a decision once Moscow received a point-by-point response to his proposals and counter-proposals from the West.
Alexander Titov, a senior lecturer at Queens University Belfast who specializes in Russian foreign policy, said continuing tensions in Europe, including around Ukraine, are helping Russia voice its concerns to the NATO and the United States.
This is Russia’s strategy to increase tension, build pressure and force (the) restoration of a broad security architecture in Europe in its favor, Titov told Al Jazeera.
As negotiations stall, Ukrainian government websites were the target of a massive cyberattack on Friday.
The websites of the country’s cabinet, seven ministries, the Treasury, the National Emergency Service and the website of state services, where electronic passports and vaccination certificates of Ukrainians are stored, were temporarily unavailable.
The websites contained a message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish, indicating that personal data of Ukrainians had been leaked into the public domain. The Ukrainian government denied this, saying no personal data had been leaked.
Be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future, the message read, in part.
Kiev’s state security service said Friday night that the cyberattack showed signs of Russian involvement.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Moscow’s current activities are similar to what the Kremlin did in the run-up to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, the Sea Peninsula. Black which had been under the jurisdiction of Ukraine since 1954.
Due to what she called sabotage activities and information operations, Psaki said on Friday that a full military invasion of Ukraine could begin between mid-January and mid-February.
The 2014 Crimean crisis came at a time when Ukraine was increasingly seeking to strengthen its ties with Europe and the West. During this period, Russia intensified its propaganda that ethnic Ukrainian Russians were oppressed in eastern Ukraine.
Moscow has long been accused of using disinformation as a tactic against adversaries in conjunction with military operations and cyberattacks.
In 2014, Russian state media attempted to discredit pro-Western protests in Kyiv fomented by the United States in cooperation with fascist Ukrainian nationalists and promoted narratives about Crimea’s historical ties to Moscow, according to a Stanford University Internet Observatory report.
These activities are now intensifying, Psaki said. Russian officials and influential actors are emphasizing stories about deteriorating human rights in Ukraine and increased activism by Ukrainian leaders, she said. Russian social media accounts also accuse the West of escalating tensions and highlighting humanitarian problems in Ukraine, she added.
The United States tracked nearly 3,500 social media posts a day emphasizing such stories in December, Psaki said, a 200% increase from the November daily average.
As tensions rise and the threat of war looms, Moscow has warned Washington that it would not rule out the possibility of sending its military assets to Latin America if the United States does not stop military activities at the gates. of Russia.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan dismissed claims about a possible Russian deployment in Cuba and Venezuela as bluster in public commentary.
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