US intelligence declassifies plan for possible Russian invasion of Ukraine

Armed men, wearing black and orange ribbons of St. George - a symbol widely associated with pro-Russian protests in Ukraine, drive an armoured personnel carrier in Slaviansk April 18, 2014. The self-declared leader of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushilin, on Friday said that he did not consider his men to be bound by an agreement between Russia and Ukraine to disarm and vacate occupied buildings. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MILITARY)

US officials say they have evidence that Russia has devised a plan, approved at a high level in Moscow, to create a pretext to invade Ukraine, The Washington Post reports.

Details of the plan have been declassified by US intelligence and are expected to be released by the Biden administration on Thursday, three people familiar with the matter told the publication.

The alleged operation would involve broadcasting images of civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine — and possibly abroad in Russia — to a wide audience, according to the sources, to evoke a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine.

According to one US official who wished to remain anonymous, it is not yet clear whether these losses will be real or fake.

People familiar with the plan say it was developed by Russian intelligence services and is in the final stages of preparation.

The WP clarifies that this plan is connected to, but separate from, other plots that have been uncovered by Western intelligence.

“Of course, they are all connected, but this is a specific operation designed to create a potential pretext,” said one US official who is familiar with the matter.

On January 14, The Guardian, citing sources, reported that Russia had already deployed saboteurs on the territory of Ukraine for a special operation that could lead to a military invasion.

On the same day, CNN, citing an unnamed American official, reported that Russia was preparing to conduct a special operation in Donbas under a false flag to create a pretext for an invasion. The United States has information indicating that Russia has already trained a group of operatives to carry out this special operation, the source reported.

CNN noted that this information is consonant with earlier statements by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and National Security Adviser to the US President Jake Sullivan.

The threat of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Russia has been gathering troops to the Ukrainian borders since the end of October 2021. According to the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov, as of the end of January, we are talking about about 130,000 Russian military.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said that Washington sees signs that Russia will decide on a new invasion of Ukraine before mid-February.

Western media reported that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could be carried out at the beginning of 2022, up to 175,000 Russian military personnel would be involved in this. Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov said that the Ukrainian authorities do not see a direct threat of Russian invasion. According to Danilov, a full-scale invasion is physically impossible and there is no reason to panic.

At the same time, the Russian leadership denies information about the preparation of the invasion, stating that the transfer of troops is an internal affair of the Russian Federation. At the same time, the Kremlin declares possible provocations from Ukraine and allegedly plans of Kiev to return the occupied territories by military means.