The US claims that Russia is trying to invent a justification to invade Ukraine, and warns that an attack might occur in the coming days.
Military action might start as soon as Thursday, according to President Joe Biden, although he emphasised that a diplomatic solution was still conceivable.
Later, his top foreign policy official suggested numerous scenarios in which Moscow could justify an assault.
The charges were described by Russia as “baseless,” and the US was accused of inflaming tensions.
It has denied any plans to invade its eastern neighbor on several occasions. Moscow claims to be pulling soldiers away from the Ukrainian border, but Western powers have vehemently denied this.
Mr Biden told reporters outside the White House, “We have reason to believe they are engaged in a false flag operation to have a pretext to go in.”
A false flag assault is a staged attack against a country’s own interests in order to justify response. For weeks, the US has claimed that such deception is part of Russia’s strategy.
Later, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken notified the UN Security Council that Russia was preparing to do so.
He said it was unclear what form a pretext for an attack could take, but that it could involve “a created so-called terrorist explosion inside Russia, the invented discovery of a mass grave, a staged drone strike against people, or a false – or real – chemical weapons attack.”
Mr. Blinken said that, in the aftermath of such an incident, Russia’s government would “theatrically convene” an emergency conference about defending ethnic Russians in Ukraine, and that Russian missiles and bombers would begin targeting Ukrainian targets, as well as cyber-attacks.
The US has not given evidence to support the assertion, and Mr Blinken admitted that the claims may be contested. “But let me be clear about something. I’m here today to prevent a war, not to start one “he stated
Other Western leaders expressed similar concerns. Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, warned of “a pretext for an armed strike,” while UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed a false flag operation was in the works.
An exchange of fire between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed insurgents in the country’s east heightened tensions on Thursday.
It’s not uncommon for the years-long ceasefire to be broken. However, each side blamed the other for the violence on Thursday.
Separatists backed by Russia allegedly attacked a nursery in the town of Stanytsia Luhanska, smashing through a wall into a children’s music room, according to Ukrainian officials. Three adults were hurt, but no children.
Meanwhile, Russia-backed rebels said that Ukrainian forces shelled a number of rebel-controlled localities, accusing them of intensifying the conflict.
There are also contradictory statements concerning the soldier build-up around Ukraine’s border.
Following the completion of military exercises, Russia has announced that some of its troops are returning to their bases. As evidence, it has uploaded a video purporting to show tanks boarding trains.
However, US and other Western authorities claim that thousands more troops are on their way and that no meaningful pullout has occurred. They claim that not only intelligence but also freely available satellite pictures back up their assertion.