U.S. intelligence has indicated Russia is preparing a "false-flag" operation to justify an invasion of Ukraine.
Russia, frustrated with diplomacy in its demand for assurances Ukraine will not be admitted to NATO, is positioning operatives for an attack on itself that it can point to as a reason for an invasion, an official told CNN on Friday.
The intelligence showed the Russian operatives are trained in urban warfare and the use of explosives, plotting an attack on Russia's own proxy forces, according to the report.
Both Ukraine's Ministry of Defense on Friday and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan at a White House press briefing Thursday referred to the intelligence.
Russian wants to be sure Ukraine does not join NATO and NATO does not build up troops or weapons in other former Soviet states aligned with the West. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has suggested attempts at diplomacy are breaking down and forcing Russia to prepare for war, The New York Times reported.
"While our proposals are aimed at reducing the military confrontation, de-escalating the overall situation in Europe, exactly the opposite is happening in the West," Lavrov said Friday, CNN reported. "NATO members are building up their strength and aviation. In the territories that are directly adjacent to Ukraine, on the Black Sea, the scale of exercises has increased many times recently."
The U.S. has thus far rejected Russia's pressure campaign on dictating the U.S. position on Ukraine joining NATO.
"The hard reality right now is that we were promised a written reaction," Lavrov said in an Thursday interview, the Times reported. "We will wait for it. And then we will determine our next steps."
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