By AAMER MADHANI, NOMAAN MERCHANT and VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
WASHINGTON (AP) U.S. intelligence officials have determined a Russian effort is underway to create a pretext for its troops to further invade Ukraine, and Moscow has already prepositioned operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine, according to the White House.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday the intelligence findings show Russia is also laying the groundwork through a social media disinformation campaign that frames Ukraine as an aggressor that has been preparing an imminent attack against Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine.
Psaki charged that Russia has already dispatched operatives trained in urban warfare who could use explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russias own proxy forces blaming the acts on Ukraine if Russian President Vladimir Putin decides he wants to move forward with an invasion.
We are concerned that the Russian government is preparing for an invasion in Ukraine that may result in widespread human rights violations and war crimes should diplomacy fail to meet their objectives, Psaki said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks at a press briefing at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)