Ukraine-Russia live news: US says Moscow is plotting to invent pretext for invasion, as Putin heads for China

‘Quick and serious consequences’ for Russia if it invades Ukraine, warns US Secretary of State

The United States claimed to have uncovered information about a possible plot by Moscow to fabricate a video purporting to show a Ukrainian military offensive, either on Russian soil or against Russian speakers in Ukraine.

The US State Department said Washington feared Russia could use such video as a false pretext to launch an invasion. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the US intelligence was “clear and shocking evidence of Russia’s unprovoked aggression and underhanded activity to destabilize Ukraine”.

It came after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg raised concerns about Russia’s continued military buildup around Ukraine, warning that Moscow had likely moved some 30,000 troops and weapons to the Neighboring Belarus – what he said was the “largest Russian deployment since the Cold War”. .

Amid ongoing escalations, Vladimir Putin is traveling to China for the Beijing Winter Olympics and to strengthen ties with his ally, with the Russian president writing in an article for China’s Xinhua news agency that relations with Moscow -Beijing had reached an “unprecedented level”.

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson warned Mr Putin that a further incursion into Ukraine would be a “tragic miscalculation” as they finally held off on their delayed appeal.

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When US officials claimed last month that Russia might be planning a “false flag” operation, a US official said. Axios that Moscow usually starts planning such propaganda operations “several weeks before a military invasion”.

Andy GregoireFebruary 3, 2022 10:57 p.m.

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The Kremlin dismissed US claims of a Russian plot to falsely justify the invasion

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed US allegations that Russia was planning to falsify a justification for invading Ukraine.

According to the TASS news agency, Mr Peskov said similar accusations had been made against Russia before, but had come to nothing.

“This is not the first promise of this kind. Earlier similar things were also expressed. But nothing ever happens,” he said.

Andy GregoireFebruary 3, 2022 10:08 p.m.

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US allegations of Russian disinformation plot are second round of allegations in recent weeks

The new charges by US officials are the second set of such allegations against Russia in recent weeks, Andrew Feinberg reports.

On January 14, officials accused Russia of “preparing the ground for the possibility of fabricating a pretext for the invasion, including through sabotage activities and information operations, by accusing Ukraine of preparing an attack impending attack against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine”.

This time, the preparations would include a video showing Turkish-made drones or other Western-supplied military hardware “as a means of implicating NATO in the attack”.

Speaking on MSNBC this afternoon, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer said the release of the so far classified information “could make it more difficult to execute on that exact plan.”

“While this does not prevent the execution of this plan, we believe that after the fact there will be significant disinformation deployed by the Russian government to say that it had to take military action for a reason like this. “, Mr. Finer said.

“Disseminating this information in advance will make it much harder for them to win the argument and easier for us to keep our partners and allies aligned, which is an important part of our strategy in this whole situation.”

Andy GregoireFebruary 3, 2022 9:27 p.m.

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Russia and US warn each other of ‘escalating’ troop movements

Both Russia and the United States today accused each other of taking steps that could escalate tensions with their troop movements this week – in Belarus, Poland and Romania respectively.

“It is obvious that these are not measures aimed at defusing tensions, but on the contrary they are actions that lead to an increase in tensions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“We constantly call on our American counterparts to stop escalating tensions on the European continent. Unfortunately, the Americans keep doing it,” he said.

Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Russia’s joint military exercises with Belarus were clearly an “escalation action, not a de-escalation action”.

Andy GregoireFebruary 3, 2022 9:09 p.m.

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Macron and Putin hold third phone call in a week

Vladimir Putin and Frenchman Emmanuel Macron discussed the Ukraine crisis and Moscow’s security proposals in their third phone call in a week, the Kremlin said.

The leaders also agreed to continue personal contacts.

Andy GregoireFebruary 3, 2022 8:52 p.m.

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Relations with China will not compensate for the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, warns the United States

A closer relationship between Russia and China will not offset the consequences of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, which would only make Russia’s economy more fragile, the US State Department said.

The United States has an array of tools it can deploy if it sees foreign companies, including those in China, trying to “fill in” U.S. export control actions on Ukraine, said State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

Mr Price spoke after the Chinese Foreign Ministry said China and Russia had coordinated their positions on Ukraine during a meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers in Beijing earlier in the day.

Andy GregoireFebruary 3, 2022 8:32 p.m.

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Here is the reaction of James Roscoe, a British diplomat at the United Nations, to US allegations of a Russian plot to create a pretext to invade Ukraine.

Andy GregoireFebruary 3, 2022 8:14 p.m.

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UK Foreign Secretary accuses Russia of ‘belligerent intent’ over alleged fake video plot

Liz Truss has accused Russia of “unprovoked aggression” against Ukraine after US intelligence officials claim they uncovered a plot by Moscow to create a pretext for an invasion using a fake video.

In a statement, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “This is clear and shocking evidence of Russia’s unprovoked aggression and underhanded activity to destabilize Ukraine.

“This belligerent intention towards a sovereign and democratic country is totally unacceptable and we condemn it in the strongest terms.

“The UK and our allies will continue to expose Russian subterfuge and propaganda and call it out for what it is. The only way forward is for Russia to de-escalate, abstain and engage on a diplomatic path. .

Andy GregoireFebruary 3, 2022 7:48 p.m.

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Washington fears potential Russian plot to fake pretext for attack, US State Department confirms

The US State Department has now confirmed that Washington claims to have information suggesting Russia hatched a possible plan to stage fabricated attacks by Ukrainian military or intelligence forces as a pretext to invade Ukraine.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that the United States was releasing intelligence to reveal the extent of Russia’s destabilizing actions toward Ukraine and to deter Russia from continuing what he called it a dangerous campaign.

Andy GregoireFebruary 3, 2022 7:31 p.m.

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Analysis | Ukraine’s fears over close Russia-Hungary ties go beyond Putin and Orban

The Independentdefense and security editor Kim Sengupta reports from Ukraine:

Sitting next to Vladimir Putin as he delivered his denunciation of the West in Moscow today was Viktor Orban, whose closeness to the Kremlin has caused deep concern among fellow NATO and EU members European Union.

But it is not just Budapest’s comfort with Moscow that is currently a concern for the West in the current hot climate. Hungary’s interaction with Ukraine has been long and often contentious, with accusations and recriminations between the two countries.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said recently that no one can tell his country to reassess its relationship with Moscow. He went on to accuse Ukraine of depriving ethnic Hungarians in the country “of their rights” and of being “deliberately provocative”. The measures taken by the Kyiv government, he said, made it very difficult to support him “even in this conflict” with Russia.

Ukraine, in turn, has claimed Mr Orban’s government is stoking separatist sentiments among the roughly 170,000 ethnic Hungarians in the Zakarpattia region. A number of Budapest government officials have been banned from entering the country for allegedly trying to interfere in domestic politics.

These issues have had a significant impact on Ukraine’s attempts to join NATO. For three years, Hungary has blocked political meetings at ministerial level between NATO and Ukraine because, she says, of the violation of the human rights of its ethnic minorities by the Ukrainian government.

You can read his dispatch in its entirety here:

Andy GregoireFebruary 3, 2022 7:14 p.m.

Christi C. Elwood