The U.S. has information that Russia is planning a “false-flag” operation in order to rationalize an invasion of Ukraine.
“We have information that indicates Russia has already pre-positioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine. The operatives are trained in urban warfare and in using explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s own proxy-forces,” the official said, confirming a CNN report.
“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,” the official said. “For example, Russian officials and influence actors are emphasizing narratives about the deterioration of human rights in Ukraine and the increased militancy of Ukrainian leaders.”
It’s rare for the U.S. to release intelligence information in real time, especially about Russia.
According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Russia “is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating a pretext for invasion,” adding that the Russians appear to be using the same playbook used to invade Crimea.
According to the New York Times, hackers brought down dozens of Ukrainian government websites on Friday and posted a message on one saying, “Be afraid and expect the worst,” a day after a breakdown in diplomatic talks between Russia and the West intended to forestall a threatened Russian invasion of the country.
“Ukrainians! All your personal data was uploaded to the internet,” the message read. “All data on the computer is being destroyed. All information about you became public. Be afraid and expect the worst.”
While Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry did not directly blame Russia for the attack, the government’s Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security, which was established to counter Russian disinformation, later issued a statement more directly blaming Russia for the hack.
“We have not seen such a significant attack on government organizations in some time,” it said. “We suggest the current attack is tied to the recent failure of Russian negotiations on Ukraine’s future in NATO,” it added, referring to Moscow’s talks with the West.