Russian operatives have been deployed to two breakaway regions in the east of Ukraine to create a false-flag operation as pretext for an invasion, several US news outlets have reported, citing an anonymous American official.
A “group of operatives” trained in urban warfare and use of explosives has been sent to “carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s own proxy forces,” CNN claimed on Friday, quoting an anonymous US official. The quote concerns militias in the Donbass, which Washington insists are under Moscow’s direction. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied the assertion.
No evidence was offered to support the warning, which echoes statements from Kiev.
The accusation apparently originated with the Defense Ministry in the Ukrainian capital, which said earlier in the day that Russian special services are preparing a provocation in an attempt to “frame” their country.
CNN also said US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had “hinted” at this intelligence on Thursday at the White House press briefing.
“Our intelligence community has developed information, which has now been downgraded, that Russia is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating the pretext for an invasion,” Sullivan said. “We saw this playbook in 2014. They are preparing this playbook again and we will have, the administration will have, further details on what we see as this potential laying of the pretext to share with the press over the course of the next 24 hours.”
What Sullivan meant by “downgraded” is that the intelligence’s classification has been lowered so it can now be discussed, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday. He also accused Russia of attempting to fabricate a pretext to invade Ukraine.
Washington has alleged an imminent Russian “invasion” of Ukraine for over a month now. Moscow has dismissed the accusation as “fake news.”
Such warnings have been issued in US media every year since 2015, and have never come to fruition. There were similar announcements in the spring of 2021. On every occasion, the reports have been based on anonymous sources.
The claims by Kiev, Kirby and CNN come after Yahoo! News published a story quoting unnamed former CIA officials, revealing that the US spy agency had been training Ukrainian special forces since 2014. The purpose of the operation was “to assist in the collection of intelligence,” the outlet’s source claimed.
“We’ve been training these guys now for eight years,” the supposed former senior intelligence official is quoted as saying.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said last month that more than 120 US “mercenaries” were operating with Kiev’s forces in eastern Ukraine. In a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Shoigu claimed that Russian intelligence detected a delivery of containers with “unidentified chemical components” to positions north of Donetsk, suspecting the US mercenaries and Ukrainians of planning a false-flag chemical attack.