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Are Kremlin Saboteurs in Ukraine Preparing for Russian Invasion?

White House says there’s evidence Russia laying groundwork for invasion option.

Is Russia preparing to invade Ukraine by sending in saboteurs first? That would be an unusual move by President Vladimir Putin so soon after peace talks adjourned. After all, the seats are still warm in Vienna, where the last round of negotiations between Russia and NATO, the U.S. and E.U. took place. Additionally, if true, that would evoke shades of the December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor attack taking place while Japanese envoy Saburo Kurusu was waiting to confer with U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Nonetheless, The New York Times’ David Sanger reports, “The Biden administration accused Moscow on Friday [January 14, 2022] of sending saboteurs into eastern Ukraine to stage an incident that could provide President Vladimir B. Putin of Russia with a pretext for ordering an invasion of parts or all of the country.”

New Banner Military AffairsAgain, from Sanger, “The White House did not release details of the evidence it had collected to back up its charge, though one official said it was a mix of intercepted communications and observations of the movements of people.” Information taken from an email written by a U.S. official revealed that Russia was laying down “pretext for an invasion” by infiltrating saboteurs, one supposes, to disrupt vital infrastructure. Furthermore, the email suggested “information operations” were creating the illusion of Ukraine “preparing an imminent attack against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.”

During a Pentagon press briefing on Jan. 14, addressing Ukraine, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs John Kirby said:

“Without getting into too much detail, we do have information that indicates that Russia is already working actively to create a pretext for a — for a potential invasion, for — you know, a move on Ukraine. In fact, we have information that they pre-positioned a group of operatives to conduct what we call a false flag operation, an operation designed to look like an attack on them or their — or Russian-speaking people in Ukraine, again, as an excuse to go in.”

Add to Sanger’s report and Kirby’s press briefing information that Ukraine was hit with a massive cyberattack on government websites, and the Russian invasion notion gains credibility. In a very recent report, Reuters said, “The cyberattack – which Kyiv’s state security service said showed signs of Russian involvement – unfolded hours after security talks wrapped up Jan. 13, with no breakthrough between Moscow and Western allies.” CNN’s Katharina Krebs and Jake Kwon, reporting on the cyberattack, said, “Scores of Ukrainian government websites were targeted in a cyberattack with threatening text warning Ukrainians to ‘be afraid and wait for the worst’ and alleging their personal information has been hacked.” Evidence that it was the Russians who perpetrated the attack came from the Ukraine Information Ministry, which said in a statement, “According to an investigation by the Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security, the first data suggests that the attack was carried out by the Russian Federation.”

Vladimir Putin (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Rumors of War

Krebs and Kwon described the statement that appeared on government computer screens: “Ukrainian! All your personal data has been uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer is destroyed, it is impossible to restore them … All information about you has become public, be afraid and wait for the worst.” Regarding possible damage to Ukrainian individuals’ data, the Security Service of Ukraine told the public that no personal data or information leakage occurred. According to the Reuters report, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov dismissed reports that Russia was behind the cyberattack on Ukraine as “unfounded.”

Many have worried the Kremlin is preparing the Ukraine battle space for an invasion because the Russian activities and events that we are seeing now are similar to what took place in 2014 before Russia’s paramilitary forces invaded the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Also, the information warfare operations executed by Russia as a prelude to illegally annexing Crimea were similar to what Ukraine is experiencing now.

If Putin has no intention of invading Ukraine, he is indeed behaving as though he does. But, as Liberty Nation has reported extensively, the gain for the Kremlin is unclear. Putin’s economy is not all that strong. Russia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is about the size of the GDP of Texas and half the size of California’s. Sanctions, including putting a halt to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline planned to bring gas from Russia into Germany and the rest of Europe, would seriously hurt a Russian economy that depends on revenue from its energy resources.

Right now, the information operations directed at Ukraine, the rhetoric coming from Moscow, the maneuvering of Russian troops on the Ukraine frontier appear to be just posturing. But Putin has got the West’s attention. However, if saboteurs and cyberattacks are the preludes to war over Ukraine, the element of surprise is lost.

The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.

Read more from Dave Patterson.

Read More From Dave Patterson

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