US warns Russia may stage video as pretext to invade Ukraine – Reuters

The Kremlin has condemned US troop deployments in the region



By Reuters

Published: Fri 4 Feb 2022, 07:02

Russia has formulated several options as an excuse to invade Ukraine, including the potential use of a propaganda video showing a staged attack, the United States said on Thursday, as the Kremlin condemned the troop deployments Americans in the region.

Russia, which took Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backs separatists in the country’s east, is demanding security guarantees, including a promise that NATO will never admit Kiev because it has amassed some 100,000 soldiers near the Ukrainian border.

The United States said Ukraine was unlikely to join NATO anytime soon, but the country would have to decide its own future as the powers clash over their spheres of influence in the EU. Post-Cold War Europe.

US intelligence thinks Russia may be using fabricated video showing the graphic aftermath of an explosion, including equipment that appears to belong to Ukraine or allied countries, to justify an incursion.

It “would involve actors playing the role of mourners for those killed in an event that they (Russia) themselves had created…(and) the deployment of corpses to represent bodies allegedly killed,” he told MSNBC Deputy US National Security Advisor Jonathan Finer.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the reports, according to the TASS news agency, saying similar things had been said before but were worthless.

Moscow has denied accusations in the past that it was trying to manufacture a conflict and said it was not planning an invasion but could take unspecified military action if its security requirements were not met. satisfied.

The Kremlin on Thursday accused Washington of ignoring its pleas to ease the standoff, a day after the United States announced it would send nearly 3,000 more troops to Poland and Romania.

“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,” Peskov said in a conference call on Thursday.

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

U.S. Army paratroopers boarded planes on Thursday to depart for Eastern Europe “to assure our NATO allies and our partners in deterring Russia,” the carrier said. U.S. Army Matthew Visser speaks.

The soldiers were leaving from Fort Bragg in North Carolina. About 1,700 troops, mostly from the 82nd Airborne Division, have been deployed to Poland, while another 300 will go to Germany, he said.

Washington and NATO have said they are ready to discuss arms control and confidence-building measures. Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier in the week that Moscow was still interested in dialogue.

Russian troop movements in Belarus

In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said there had been a significant movement of Russian military forces towards Ukraine’s northern neighbor Belarus in recent days.

Joint Russian-Belarusian military exercises, which run until February 20, have provided Moscow with cover to further increase forces near Ukraine.

“This is the largest Russian deployment there since the Cold War,” Stoltenberg said, adding that the planned deployment includes 30,000 troops, Spetsnaz special operations forces, SU-35 fighter jets, S-400 air defense systems and nuclear-capable Iskander missiles.

The Kremlin described the Allied Resolve drills as a rehearsal to repel outside aggression and said its forces would withdraw after the drills.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Belarus on Thursday to inspect the troops.

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Belarus’ defense minister released footage from the exercises showing troops parachuting on the ground, fighter jets in the sky, soldiers descending from a helicopter holding weapons and tanks firing and maneuvering.

Belarus shares its western border with NATO members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, while Ukraine lies to the south.

World leaders keep talking

Support for Russia came from China.

Their two foreign ministers “coordinated their positions” during a meeting in Beijing on Thursday, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

China expressed its understanding and support for Russia’s position on security regarding Russia’s relations with the United States and NATO, she said.

Putin was due to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday before attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

The US State Department has warned Russia that a closer relationship between Moscow and Beijing will not offset the consequences of an invasion and will only make Russia’s economy “more fragile”.

Elsewhere, world leaders continued their efforts to resolve the crisis.

In Kyiv, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy and offered to host a meeting between Putin and Zelenskiy.

In a move likely to upset Moscow, Zelenskiy used the meeting to trumpet a deal to allow Ukrainian factories to produce Turkish drones that have already been deployed in Ukraine’s war against Russian-backed rebels in its eastern region. of Donbass.

In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said he and Polish President Andrzej Duda had discussed the possibility of a three-way meeting with Germany’s Olaf Scholz in the coming days over the situation in Ukraine.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called on Russia to return to the path of “peace and dialogue” or face sanctions as the EU works on a joint response to a letter that several of its members had received requests from Russia for security guarantees.

Christi C. Elwood