US intelligence shows Russia is preparing an operation to justify invading Ukraine

According to US officials, Russia has provided information to CNN that suggests they have prepositioned a group to conduct a false flag operation in eastern Ukraine. This was done in order to create an excuse for an invasion.

US intelligence shows Russia is preparing an operation to justify invading Ukraine

According to the official, the US has evidence that the operatives have been trained in urban warfare as well as explosives use in sabotage of Russia's proxy forces.

This allegation is similar to a statement by Ukraine's Ministry of Defense that said Russian special services were preparing provocations against Russian forces in order to frame Ukraine. During a briefing on Thursday with reporters, Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser, hinted at this intelligence.

"Our intelligence community has produced information, which has now become downgraded," Sullivan stated on Thursday. "We saw this playbook back in 2014. They are currently preparing the playbook again. We will have further details from the administration on what we perceive as the potential laying of pretexts to share with the media over the next 24 hours.

According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, Friday's statement stated that "the military units and satellites of the aggressor country receive orders to prepare for such provocations."

After a week of diplomatic meetings between Russian officials and Western officials, the US intelligence discovery comes in the wake of Russia's deployment of tens to thousands of troops at Ukraine's border. The talks did not result in any breakthroughs as Russia refused to commit to de-escalating. American and NATO officials also stated that Moscow's demands, including the demand that NATO never admit Ukraine to the alliance, were non-starters.

Cyberattacks on a number of Ukraine's government websites resulted in a cyberattack Friday. This was a development European officials warned would increase tensions.

According to the US official, Russia may be planning an invasion of Ukraine. This could lead to widespread violations of human rights and war crimes if diplomacy fails to achieve their goals.

The official stated that the Russian military planned to start these activities several weeks prior to a military invasion. This could occur between mid-January or mid-February. This is the same playbook we saw in 2014 with Crimea.

According to the official, Russian influence actors have also been used by the US to prime Russian audiences for intervention. This included emphasizing narratives regarding the degrading human rights in Ukraine as well as the increased militancy among Ukrainian leaders.

The official stated that Russian-language content on social media covered all three narratives rose to nearly 3,500 posts per daily in December. This is a 200% increase over November's daily average.

This week, high-stakes meetings were held by NATO, the US and European officials with Russian officials. Both sides left the meetings with a pessimistic outlook after the three-hour sessions on Thursday. The Russian deputy foreign minister said that talks were at an "end" and there was no reason for them to continue. A senior US official warned, however, that "the drumbeat of war" had begun following the diplomatic sessions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated Friday that Russia believes NATO would increase its activities along its border to Ukraine if Moscow does not comply with the West's demands.

"While our proposals aim to reduce the military confrontation and de-escalating Europe's overall situation, the West is doing the exact opposite. NATO members are increasing their strength and aviation. Lavrov stated that exercises have increased in the Black Sea territories, which are adjacent to Ukraine.

A number of websites belonging to the Ukrainian government, including its Ministry of Foreign Affairs were attacked by hackers with threatening messages. The message warned Ukrainians not to be afraid and to expect the worst. According to the Ukrainian government, Russia may have been behind the attack.

According to a US National Security Council official, President Joe Biden was briefed about the attack. According to the official, the US does not yet have an attribution for this attack but will "provide Ukraine with any support it needs to recover."

Josep Borrell, the chief diplomat of the European Union, condemned the cyberattack and warned that it would worsen the already tense environment in the region.

Borrell was asked whether Russian actors, governmental or not, were behind the attacks. He said that while he did not want to "point fingers", there was "a certain probability" of their origin.

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