January 17, 2022
Russia is dismissing U.S. allegations that Moscow has plans for a false flag operation as pretext to invade Ukraine as “total disinformation.”
The rejection from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as reported in The Associated Press, comes after Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Friday that U.S. intelligence believes Russia is working to create a pretext for a potential invasion of Ukraine.
A U.S. official also confirmed the Russian military is planning to start pretext activities “several weeks before a military invasion,” which could occur between mid-January and mid-February.
The intelligence report comes as tensions between Moscow and Kyiv continue to intensify. More than 100,000 Russian troops are already amassed on Ukraine’s eastern border, leading to fears of a potential invasion in the future.
U.S. intelligence said in December that Russia was planning a military offensive against Ukraine involving 175,000 troops near the border that could occur as early as this year.
President Biden has threatened serious economic sanctions if Russia were to execute an invasion of Ukraine.
Moscow has denied having any such plans.
The U.S., its European allies and Russia met last week for diplomatic talks but reached no major breakthroughs. Moscow has not directly pledged to take part in any future dialogue.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Thursday said Moscow sees “no grounds” for continued talks with the U.S. and NATO, noting that Washington and its allies rejected Russia’s demand that the military alliance deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet states.
A bipartisan group of senators is traveling to Ukraine this week to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials. The group said the discussions are meant to “reaffirm the U.S.’s commitment to Ukraine, which continues to face an increasingly belligerent Russia.”