A US official said that Russia is planning to carry out provocative actions aimed at creating a pretext for the invasion of Ukraine.
Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said the United States had information about the deployment of Russian agents in eastern Ukraine in order to carry out a “fabricated” operation, which would allow Russia to accuse Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack.
Moscow denied the validity of these allegations.
The US warning coincides with Ukraine accusing Russia of being behind a cyber attack that targeted dozens of its official websites.
And before these sites stopped, a message appeared warning the Ukrainians, saying, “Get ready for the worst.”
Most of the sites were up and running hours after the attack, and the United States and NATO condemned the attack and offered to help Ukraine. Russia has not commented on this hack.
“Russia has a ready group of secret agents to carry out what we call a fabricated operation, an operation designed to show that an attack on Russian-speaking people in Ukraine would be a justification for the invasion,” Kirby told reporters Friday, explaining the Russian plans.
The US official added that these agents were trained to use explosives to carry out sabotage operations against the pro-Russian rebels.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said similar actions were being prepared against Russian forces stationed in the Transdniestria region of Moldova.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded that the reports were baseless and “do not confirm anything.”
The US official’s comments come after a previous statement by Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, who told reporters that intelligence indicated that Moscow was laying the groundwork in order to create a pretext for the invasion of Ukraine.
He said it was the same scenario that Russia pursued when it occupied Crimea in 2014.
Russia has massed weapons and tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s border, raising fears of an invasion.