Washington — On Friday, the Biden administration accused Russia of sending saboteurs into eastern Ukraine to stage an incident that could provide President Vladimir V. Putin with a pretext for launching an invasion of parts or all of the country.
Although the White House did not release any specifics of its evidence, one official stated that it was a combination of intercepted communications and observational data. U.S. officials recently wrote in an email that Russia “is setting up a pretext for invasion, including by engaging in sabotage activities and information operations, by accusing Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.
According to the anonymous official, “the Russian military plans to begin these activities several weeks prior to a military invasion, which could begin between mid-January and mid-February,” according to US intelligence officials. In 2014, we saw a similar strategy in Crimea.” In the same year, Russia annexed Ukraine.
In order to prevent the attacks, the release was a part of a strategy to expose them in advance. However, if the United States does not release the underlying intelligence, it risks being accused of fabricating evidence by Russia. In the past, Russia frequently brought up the utterly faulty intelligence the United States used to justify its invasion of Iraq, in an attempt to cast doubt on the credibility of the CIA and other American intelligence agencies as neutral observers of world affairs.
Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine are engaged in a brutal war of attrition with the Ukrainian government, and the United States has “information that indicates Russia has already pre-positioned a group of operatives.” To carry out sabotage operations against Russia, the agents are trained in urban warfare and explosives use.
Russian influence actors are allegedly already fabricating Ukrainian provocations in state and social media to justify Russian intervention and sow divisions in Ukraine, according to the United States’ accusation. That includes “emphasising narratives about deterioration of human rights in Ukraine and the increased militancy of Ukrainian leaders,” the official said.