US Accuses Russia of ‘False-Flag’ Operation
A U.S. official said that Russia has positioned saboteurs in Ukraine to carry out a “false flag” operation to use as a pretext for a Russian attack, which could come within the next month.
“Russia is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating a pretext for invasion, including through sabotage activities and information operations, by accusing Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine,” the official told reporters.
“We have information that indicates Russia has already prepositioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine.”
“Russian influence actors already starting to fabricate Ukrainian provocations in state and social media,” the official said, noting that Russia previously used similar tactics in 2014.
“The Russian military plans to begin these activities several weeks before a military invasion, which could begin between mid-January and mid-February.”
According to the outlet, the claim came as Ukraine was hit by a “massive” cyber-attack, knocking out the websites of several government departments.
The hackers reportedly left a message on the foreign ministry website, saying: “Ukrainians! … All information about you has become public. Be afraid and expect worse. It’s your past, present and future.”
Ukraine’s information ministry said that “the first data suggest that the attack was carried out by the Russian Federation.”