The Biden White House's rhetoric on the Russia-Ukraine standoff is escalating to new unprecedented heights. After on Thursday stating the possibility of a Russian military invasion is "high" - according to national security advisor Jake Sullivan - on Friday administration officials followed by claiming that Moscow is currently planning "sabotage operations" and 'false flags' to be used as a casus belli for a Ukraine invasion.
Here's how an almost unbelievable Friday Bloomberg story begins, "The Biden administration believes Russian actors are preparing potential sabotage operations against their own forces and fabricating provocations in social media to justify an invasion into Ukraine, according to a U.S. official." The claims based unnamed sources first appeared in CNN.
"As part of the plan, President Vladimir Putin’s government has prepositioned operatives trained in urban warfare and in using explosives, possibly to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s proxy forces in or near Ukraine, according to the person, who asked not to be identified discussing the sensitive issue," the report continues.
As sensational and unusual as the allegations are, it's perhaps highly revealing that the anonymous admin officials provide no evidence the Kremlin has plans for staging attacks on its own forces. The report only alludes to Friday's simultaneous revelation of a major cyberattack by hackers on several Ukrainian federal government websites.
The Washington Post detailed earlier of the sweeping cyberattack, "Just hours before the attacks, Dmitri Alperovitch, an expert on cybersecurity and co-founder of CrowdStrike, a leading firm in the field, told a Washington Post Live discussion that Ukraine had already been subjected to increased cyberattacks, which he said could be a prelude to an invasion."
Major public sites like Ukraine Foreign and Agriculture Ministries were breached, with words replacing homepages that ominously warned "...be afraid and expect the worst." So the suggestion is that the world is now witnessing the start of shadowy 'kinetic operations' by Russia in order to justify offensive operations across the Ukraine border in Donbass. Crucially, the individuals or entities behind the attack have not been uncovered as an investigation continues, yet fingers quickly pointed to Russia of course.
LATEST: US believes Russians prepping potential sabotage operations against their own forces, and fabricating provocations in social media, to justify Ukraine invasion.— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) January 14, 2022
But US officials have no attribution yet for worst cyber attack on Ukraine in 4 years.https://t.co/MlyrOGaWG7
But according to the unnamed US admin officials, they believe a Russian false flag may take effect if diplomacy fails. Things aren't looking good on this front, given that also on Friday Russian and NATO officials have admitted this week's series of talks which are intended to deescalate the situation now appear to be at a "dead end".
The Kremlin, meanwhile, was quick to blast the fresh and bizarre accusation as "unfounded," according to TASS. And yet, as the following statement suggests, Russia now is being placed in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation - though which isn't necessarily a new scenario...
European powers are increasingly worried that even if Vladimir Putin doesn’t invade Ukraine he’ll create a “new normal” of heightened tensions for Europe and the U.S. to grapple with https://t.co/0keMw1vFhq via @bpolitics— Kevin Whitelaw (@KevinWhitelaw1) January 14, 2022
"No one should be surprised if Russia spreads disinformation about commitments that have not been made, or if Moscow goes even further and instigates something as a pretext for further destabilizing activity," State Department spokesman Ned Price had said Wednesday, which was when the White House first alluded to the supposed Kremlin plans for a false flag event.
With the clearly ratcheting rhetoric and tit-for-tat atmosphere of fierce accusations, denunciations, and threats - and add to this what looks like dialogue with NATO coming to a dead end - the stage is indeed set for a collision course on the ground with Eastern Ukraine as the likely ground zero.