U.S. says Russia is developing video of fabricated attack as pretext for invading Ukraine

American Age Official

WASHINGTON – U.S. intelligence officials said Thursday they have evidence that Russia is planning to develop a propaganda video that will depict a fabricated attack on its troops that will then be used as a pretext to invade Ukraine.

Senior administration officials speaking on the condition of anonymity said the video will likely depict graphic scenes of a staged false explosion with corpses, actors depicting mourners, and images of destroyed locations and military equipment.

The military equipment used in the fabricated attack will be made to look like it is Ukrainian or from allied nations, the officials said.

U.S. officials believe that Russia will release the fake video publicly to make it appear that Ukraine is a threat to Moscow’s security and to justify a military assault on its neighbor.  

More:Will Russia invade Ukraine? Talks, timing, desire for a long fight factor into strategy

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.

The intelligence comes as U.S. officials have warned of a possible Russian attack against Ukraine and as the U.S. and its NATO allies have been engaged in diplomatic talks with Moscow to avert a war.

Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, but Russian President Vladimir Putin insists he has no plans to invade. U.S. officials have stressed they don’t know if Putin has decided to invade but fear that the troop buildup could be a prelude to an invasion.

U.S. officials confirmed last month that Russia has dispatched operatives into eastern Ukraine as part of a “false flag” operation to justify an attack. The operatives are trained in urban warfare and in using explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russian forces – actions that Russia would then falsely blame on Ukraine and might use as a pretext for invading that country.

On Thursday, officials said one of the options Russia is planning as part of its disinformation campaign is to stage a fabricated attack by Ukrainian military or intelligence forces against Russian sovereign territory, or against Russian-speaking people, to justify military action against its neighbor.

Russia is angry over Ukraine’s usage of Turkish-made Bayraktar drones against Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, and it’s possible the weapons could be included in the propaganda video about the fake attack as a means to implicate NATO, U.S. officials said. 

Officials said they believe Russia has already recruited people to participate in the fabricated attack and that Russian intelligence is deeply involved in the operation.

U.S. officials said they decided to publicize plans for the fake attack in an effort to expose it and discourage Russia from proceeding.

Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.

More:Putin ‘won’t stop’ with Ukraine: Why Americans should care about Russia’s aggression against its neighbor

More:Better trained, better equipped: What you should know about Russia and Ukraine’s militaries

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