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US Says Russia Plans “False Flag” Operation to Justify Invasion of Ukraine | Russia

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The United States has alleged that Russia has already positioned saboteurs in Ukraine to carry out a “false flag” operation as a pretext for a Russian attack, which Washington says could begin in the coming month.

The allegations, following similar allegations by the Kiev government, come after a week’s failed diplomacy to defuse the crisis sparked by Russia’s rally of more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders. Moscow has consistently portrayed the crisis as Ukraine’s military threat against Russia, without providing any evidence.

“Russia is preparing the ground for the possibility of fabricating a pretext for an invasion, including through sabotage activities and information operations, accusing Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack on Russian forces in the east of Ukraine, “said a US official.

“We have information which indicates that Russia has already prepositioned a group of agents to conduct a false flag operation in eastern Ukraine.

“Russian influencers are already starting to fabricate Ukrainian provocations in public and social media,” the official said, noting that Russia used similar tactics before the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

“The Russian military plans to start these activities several weeks before a military invasion, which could begin between mid-January and mid-February.”

Ukrainian officials had said the provocation could take the form of a violent incident at the Russian embassy or consulate, which Moscow could then blame on far-right Ukrainian extremists.

The US claim came the same day Ukraine was hit by a “massive” cyberattack, with the websites of several government departments, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Education, being taken down. .

The hackers left a message on the Foreign Ministry’s website, according to reports. He would say: “Ukrainians! … All information concerning you has become public. Be afraid and expect worse. It’s your past, your present and your future.

Andriy Yermak, the head of the presidential office in Kiev, said “nearly 90%” of affected websites were back online by mid-afternoon.

“Ukraine’s most strategic infrastructure was not destroyed by this attack. It is a very [well] protected, ”Yermak said at a meeting of the Kiev Atlantic Council think tank. He said Ukraine was working with the United States and the United Kingdom to confirm who was behind the assault.

Earlier today, the Ukrainian Information Ministry said that “the first data suggests that the attack was carried out by the Russian Federation”. The White House could not immediately confirm this, however.

“We don’t have an award at the moment,” a US official told reporters. “As we continue to assess the impact with Ukrainians, it seems limited so far, with websites coming back online. We will consult with our allies and partners, including Ukraine.

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