In the newest wave of aggression, the U.S. Department of Defense came out with information about an imminent Russian provocation, while Moscow is gearing up for more military drills on the border with Ukraine.
Imminent False Flag Attack?
According to the Pentagon, the U.S. military has very credible intelligence that suggests the Kremlin has prepositioned operatives—presumably intelligence officers and special operations troops—near Ukraine to conduct a false flag operation, in which the Russians would pretend to be Ukrainians and attack Russian troops or pro-Russian Ukrainians and give Moscow a reason to intervene. Such false flag operations are old as war and are usually used to justify the actions of the aggressor to domestic and foreign audiences.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said “I’m not at liberty to go into a whole lot more detail than that. But I—I hope that, by the fact that we can say this as confidently as we can, you—you can take away that there’s a fidelity here to the information that we have that we believe is—is very credible.”
The U.S. Intelligence Community is tracking a group of Russian intelligence officers who have deployed in embattled east Ukraine. This won’t be the first time the Kremlin opted for such an approach. When Russian troops invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014, Russian intelligence officers and mercenaries had deployed first to prepare the ground.
More Troops in the Border
Last week, Russia and Belarus announced “Allied Resolve,” a series of joint military exercises for early February, a timeframe that the U.S. Intelligence Community has assessed for months to be opportune for an invasion of Ukraine.
Right now, there are approximately 130,000 Russian troops near Ukraine that could take part in an invasion. Moscow’s advanced weaponry and air superiority mean that Russia will prevail in the event of an attack.
Meanwhile, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan emphasized that the U.S. is committed to reciprocity with respect to Moscow, adding that the U.S. is willing and prepared to continue with diplomacy to advance security and stability in the region but warned that it is also ready if Russia opts for another course of action. The White House has stated that it won’t commit U.S. troops on the ground but will assist Ukraine through other means if necessary.
“Russia raised its concerns, we raised our concerns, including the actions Russia has taken to undermine European security. . .We stuck to our core premise of reciprocity. We were firm in our principles and clear about those areas where we can make progress and those areas that are non-starters…We’re prepared to continue with diplomacy to advance security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic. We’re equally prepared if Russia chooses a different path,” Sullivan said in a press briefing.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is currently in Ukraine, holding talks with his Ukrainian counterpart.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.