US Claims to Have Evidence of Russia’s ‘False Flag’ Attack Plan to Invade Ukraine
WASHINGTON.- The United States has acquired information about a Russian plan to fabricate a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine using a fake video that would be based on recent disinformation campaigns, according to senior administration officials and others briefed on the material.
The plan – which the United States hopes to ruin by making it public, according to the sources – consists of staging and filming a fabricated attack by the Ukrainian Army on Russian territory or against Russian-speaking people in eastern Ukraine.
According to officials, Russia intends to use the video to accuse Ukraine of genocide against Russian-speakers. He would then use outrage over the video to justify an attack or prompt separatist leaders in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine to call for Russian intervention.
The officials did not want to reveal any direct evidence of the Russian plan or how they learned about it, saying doing so would compromise their sources and methods. But both a recent Russian disinformation campaign centered around false genocide accusations and recent political moves in the Russian parliament to recognize Ukraine’s breakaway governments lent credence to the intelligence.
If carried out, the Russian operation would be a expansion of a propaganda theme that US intelligence officials and outside experts say Moscow has been pushing on social media, on conspiracy sites and with the state-controlled media since November.
The video was intended to be elaborate, officials said. with shots of graphic images of the staged, corpse-strewn aftermath of an explosion and of images of destroyed places. They said that the video was also to include fake Ukrainian military equipment, Turkish-made drones, and actors playing Russian-speaking mourners.
US officials would not say who was planning the operation in Russia, but a senior administration official said Russian intelligence was “intimately involved” in the effort.
A British government official said they had done their own intelligence analysis and were pretty sure Russia was planning to devise a pretext to blame an attack on Ukraine. The intelligence details, the official said, are “credible and extremely worrying.”
Although it is not clear that senior Russian officials approved of the operation, it was well underway in the planning and the United States was highly confident that it was being seriously considered, the officials said. Russian officials had found dead bodies to use in the video, sparred with actors to play the mourners, and planned how to make the military equipment in the video look Ukrainian or NATO-supplied.
Julian E. Barnes
The New York Times