US fears Russia preparing to invade Ukraine if diplomacy fails – The White House
Talks between the United States, its European allies and Russia ended in an impasse this week, with no current plans to meet again over Russia’s deployment of tens of thousands of troops along the border. Ukrainian. A cyberattack on Ukraine has further inflamed tensions.
A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said it was not yet clear who was responsible for the cyberattack, but President Joe Biden had been briefed.
“We are in contact with the Ukrainians and have offered our support as Ukraine investigates the impact and the nature and recovers from the incidents. We have no attribution at this time,” the carrier said. word.
Biden has warned of serious economic consequences for Russia if Russian President Vladimir Putin launches an invasion of Ukraine. Russia denies plans to attack Ukraine and has demanded that NATO halt its eastward expansion and accept legally binding security guarantees, demands that the United States and NATO have rejected.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the United States is concerned that the Russian government is “preparing for an invasion of Ukraine that could lead to widespread human rights abuses and war crimes if diplomacy failed to achieve its objectives”.
“As part of its plans, Russia is preparing the ground for the possibility of fabricating a pretext for the invasion, including through sabotage activities and information operations, accusing Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack on Russian forces in eastern Ukraine,” Psaki said.
The Russian military “plans to start these activities several weeks before a military invasion, which could start between mid-January and mid-February”, she said.
PSAKI said it was up to Putin to determine the way forward and that a tough American response awaited him if he launched an invasion.
“If they decide they want to engage in diplomatic conversations and talks, we are very open to that and we hope they will. But at the end of the day, it is a choice that they have to do,” she said.
‘FALSE FLAG OPERATION’
A US official said the United States had information indicating that Russia had already positioned a group of agents to carry out “a false flag operation” in eastern Ukraine.
“Agents are trained in urban warfare and the use of explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russian forces by proxy,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The official also said indications are that “Russian influencers are already beginning to fabricate Ukrainian provocations in state and social media to justify Russian intervention and sow division in Ukraine.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said if history were any guide, it would be difficult to see this kind of activity unbeknownst to senior Russian leaders.
Asked if the U.S. military would continue to support Ukrainian forces with security assistance in the event of a Russian invasion, Kirby said, “We have and will continue to provide security assistance to Ukraine to help it better defend itself”.
(Reporting by Steve HollandAdditional reporting by Alexandra Alper and Idrees AliEditing by Chizu Nomiyama, Alistair Bell and Frances Kerry)
By Steve Holland