Senior Biden administration officials say the US has learned Russia planned to fabricate a pretext to launch an invasion of Ukraine by filming a fake, staged attack by the Ukraine military either on Russian territory or against Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine, according to The New York Times.
The video reportedly was set to include faked Ukrainian military equipment, Turkish-made drones and actors in the roles of Russian-speaking mourners.
The US acquired intelligence about the provocation and is hoping to prevent it from taking place by exposing the plot.
A British government official likewise said the UK was convinced the intelligence was “credible and extremely concerning,” saying Russia planned to create a pretext to blame Ukraine for an attack.
US officials who spoke with The New York Times said Russia intended to use the video to accuse Ukraine of genocide against Russian speakers, and then using the resulting public outrage to justify an invasion – or support an invitation from the Russian-supporting separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region to “intervene.”
Russia has recently been disseminating a disinformation campaign focused on false accusations of Ukrainian genocide, and its parliament has been considering proposals to recognize two self-declared separatist states in eastern Ukraine – Donetsk and Luhansk.
But it was not clear at what level of government the plot had unfolded.
Details of the US intelligence were shared with members of Congress on Thursday and with allies as well.