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WASHINGTON—Russia is planning to fabricate a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine by releasing a...

WASHINGTON—Russia is planning to fabricate a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine by releasing a staged video depicting attacks by Kyiv military forces, U.S. officials said Thursday, citing newly declassified intelligence.

The intelligence shows a Russian plan to stage a fabricated attack by Ukrainian military or intelligence personnel against Russian sovereign territory, or against Russian-speaking people, to justify an incursion into Ukraine, U.S. officials said.
The plan would include Moscow’s use of a propaganda video that would depict “graphic scenes” according to administration officials, of a staged, false explosion with corpses, actors depicting mourners and images of destroyed buildings and military equipment. The equipment in the video would be made to look like it is Ukrainian or from nations belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, officials said.
“This is just one example that we can talk about today,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby. “We’ve seen this kind of activity by the Russians in the past, and we believe it’s important when we see it like this and we can, to call it out.”
The video could include depictions of Turkish-made Bayraktar drones used by Ukraine, which has angered Moscow, officials said.
“The video will be released to underscore a threat to Russia’s security and to underpin military operations,” administration officials said, adding that it “could provide the spark” that Russian President
Vladimir Putin
needs to justify an invasion of Ukraine. Details of the intelligence were first reported by the New York Times.

The U.S., NATO and Russia are caught in a diplomatic standoff over Moscow’s buildup of troops at the border with Ukraine. WSJ looks at what Russia wants and how Ukraine and its allies are preparing for a potential crisis. Photo: Andriy Dubchak/Associated Press

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The U.S. and U.K. governments, which share virtually all intelligence they collect, haven’t released the underlying intelligence reports regarding the accusations.
British officials said they agreed with the U.S. assessment of the intelligence. “This is clear and shocking evidence of Russia’s unprovoked aggression and underhand activity to destabilize Ukraine,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said. “This bellicose intent towards a sovereign, democratic country is completely unacceptable and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”
The U.S. and the U.K. have and publicly released information in recent weeks they say shows that Russia is considering military and political interventions in Ukraine.
Russian officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The Kremlin has denied any plans to invade or undermine Ukraine.
In late January, the United Kingdom said it had exposed a plot to oust Ukraine President
Volodymyr Zelensky
and install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine.
In mid-January, the White House said it had evidence that Russia was sending saboteurs into eastern Ukraine to stage a provocation that would serve as a pretext for an invasion.
State Department spokesman
Ned Price
pushed back when asked to present evidence of the U.S. and British claims.
“If you doubt the credibility of the U.S. government, of the British government, of other governments and want to, you know, find solace in information that the Russians are putting out, that is for you to do,” Mr. Price told reporters Thursday.
Write to Gordon Lubold at [email protected] and Warren P. Strobel at [email protected]

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