First on CNN: US intelligence indicates Russia is preparing an operation to justify the invasion of Ukraine

The official said the United States had evidence that militants had been trained in urban warfare and in the use of explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russian proxy forces.

These allegations echo a statement issued by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, on Friday, which stated that the Russian special services were preparing for provocations against Russian forces in an attempt to threaten Ukraine. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan hinted at the intelligence during a briefing with reporters Thursday.

“Our intelligence community has developed information, now downgraded, that Russia is paving the way for the option of creating a pretext for an invasion,” Sullivan said Thursday. “We saw this evidence in 2014. They are preparing that evidence again and we will have, the administration will have, more details on what we see as a possible placement of the pretext to share with the press over the next 24 hours.”

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement, Friday, that “the military units of the aggressor country and its satellites are receiving orders to prepare for such provocations.”

The discovery by US intelligence comes after a week of diplomatic meetings between Russian and Western officials regarding Russia’s build-up of tens of thousands of troops along the Ukrainian border. But the talks failed to yield any breakthroughs, as Russia would not commit to de-escalation and Moscow’s demands – including that NATO never accept Ukraine into the alliance – were not a start, US and NATO officials said.

The US official said the Biden administration believed Russia could prepare for an invasion of Ukraine “which could lead to widespread human rights abuses and war crimes if diplomacy fails to achieve its goals.”

“The Russian army plans to start these activities several weeks before the military invasion, which may start between mid-January and mid-February,” the official said. “We saw this evidence in 2014 with Crimea.”

The official said the United States has also seen Russian influencers direct Russian publics to intervene, including by confirming accounts of deteriorating human rights in Ukraine and the hardening of Ukrainian leaders.

“During December, Russian-language content on social media covering all three of these novels rose to nearly 3,500 shares per day, 200% more than the daily average in November,” the official noted.

Officials from the United States, NATO and Europe held high-stakes meetings this week with Russian officials. At the conclusion of the three meetings on Thursday, the two sides came out with a pessimistic view. The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister indicated that the talks had reached a “stalemate” and did not see any reason to continue these talks, while a senior US official warned that “the drums of war were beating loudly” following the diplomatic sessions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Russia believes that NATO will increase its activity along its border with Ukraine if Moscow does not comply with the West’s demands.

“While our proposals are aimed at reducing military confrontation, and pacifying the general situation in Europe, the exact opposite is happening in the West. NATO members are building up their strength and aviation. In the immediate vicinity of Ukraine, the volume of exercises in the Black Sea has increased several times recently,” Lavrov said. “.

This story is down and will be updated.



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