“Russia is laying the groundwork for having the ability to create a pretext for invasion out of the blue, including through sabotage and intelligence operations, by accusing Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack on Russian forces in eastern Ukraine,” a senior US official said.
According to the official, Washington has evidence that Russia has already deployed a group of agents to carry out bogus operations in eastern Ukraine. “These agents were trained in urban guerrilla warfare and in the use of explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against pro-Russian forces” by impersonating Ukrainians, he added.
And the US government has been warning for weeks that Moscow could fabricate an “excuse” for the invasion. “We saw that strategy in 2014,” when Russia annexed Crimea, warned Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, “and they are preparing that strategy again.”
The Kremlin on Friday denied the US allegations, calling them “baseless”. “All these statements that we have heard so far are groundless and baseless,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Russian news agency TASS.
Russia has deployed nearly 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border, according to the United States, with the goal of a possible attack. According to US intelligence, the Kremlin has not yet made a final decision on a possible attack.