Is Moscow Fabricating a Pretext to Invade?

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The US and the UK warn that the Kremlin may be planning covert “false flag” operations to justify an invasion of Ukraine.

  • US and UK officials have in recent weeks publicly exposed plots they say Russia may be planning in order to justify an invasion of Ukraine.
  • Earlier this month, for example, US officials said Moscow had produced a graphic fake video that showed a supposed Ukrainian attack on Russian territory or on pro-Russian areas in eastern Ukraine.
  • The video was said to include grisly scenes of corpses and Russian actors posing as mourners. US officials said they made the alleged plot public in order to prevent the use of the tactic.
  • Now, the Kremlin has been talking up the supposed prospects of a Ukrainian attack on pro-Russian forces and populations in parts of Eastern Ukraine where Moscow has fomented a separatist conflict.
  • The supposed threat of a Ukrainian attack would allow the Kremlin to justify a Russian invasion of Eastern Ukraine as an act of self defense.
  • There is precedent for such false flag operations carried out by Moscow. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union often fabricated pretexts to crush dissent and justify military intervention.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former Soviet spy, is well versed in such tactics. Russian officials, however, say that the plot accusations are part of the West’s anti-Russia hysteria.
  • By publicizing alleged false flag plots ahead of time, the US and UK are attempting to undermine their potential effectiveness and limit Putin’s options.
The Guardian
Foreign Policy
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