WASHINGTON—Russia has pre-positioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in Eastern Ukraine as a pretext for invading the country, the White House said Friday.
“The operatives are trained in urban warfare and in using explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s proxy forces,” White House press secretary
said at the White House. “Our information also indicates that Russian influence actors are already starting to fabricate Ukrainian provocations in state and social media to justify a Russian intervention and sow divisions in Ukraine.”
Ms. Psaki’s statement came after the U.S. and its European allies concluded a week of talks with Russia aimed at easing tensions in Ukraine. Russia has deployed more than 100,000 troops along the border with Ukraine, prompting fears in the U.S. and the West that it intends to invade.
The Russian Embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Russian officials have denied the country intends to invade Ukraine and says its troops are near the border on exercises. Russia says it has the right to move troops about on its own territory.
Ms. Psaki also said Russian officials and “influence actors” had sought to spread misinformation about Ukraine to encourage domestic Russian support for military action there.
“These media narratives also blame the West for escalating tension, highlight humanitarian issues in Ukraine that Russian intervention could solve and promote Russian patriotism to encourage domestic support for military action,” she said, reporting a 200% increase in the daily average of Russian-language content on such narratives from November to December.
White House national security adviser
said Thursday that the U.S. intelligence community had determined Russia was “laying the groundwork” for fabricating a pretext for an invasion.
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