August 17, 2022

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U.S. unearths Russian plot to make use of faux video as pretense for Ukraine invasion

Ukraine’s president has played down intensified warnings of a possible Russian invasion within days, saying...

Ukraine’s president has played down intensified warnings of a possible Russian invasion within days, saying he has yet to see convincing evidence.
olodymyr Zelensky’s comments came even as the US warned of more Russian troops pressing closer to Ukraine’s borders and some airlines cancelled or diverted flights to the country.
The White House said US President Joe Biden would talk later on Sunday with Mr Zelensky.

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An instructor in Kyiv shows a woman how to use a Kalashnikov assault rifle (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

An instructor in Kyiv shows a woman how to use a Kalashnikov assault rifle (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)
The Ukrainian leader’s repeated statements urging calm among his people – while Russian forces surround his country on three sides in what Russia insists are military exercises – grew this weekend, with Mr Zelensky questioning strident warnings from US officials in recent days that Russia could be planning to invade as soon as the middle of next week.
The US picked up intelligence that Russia was looking at Wednesday as a target date, according to a United States official familiar with the findings.
“We’re not going to give Russia the opportunity to conduct a surprise here, to spring something on Ukraine or the world,” Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, told CNN on Sunday, about the United States’ warnings.
“We are going to make sure that we are laying out for the world what we see as transparently and plainly as we possibly can,” he said.

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Valentyna Konstantynovska, 79, holds a weapon during basic combat training for civilians, organised by Ukraine’s National Guard in the Donetsk region (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

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Valentyna Konstantynovska, 79, holds a weapon during basic combat training for civilians, organised by Ukraine’s National Guard in the Donetsk region (Vadim Ghirda/AP)
The US has largely not made public the evidence it says is underlying its most specific warnings on possible Russian planning or timing.
The Russians have deployed missile, air, naval and special operations forces, as well as supplies to sustain an invasion.
This week, Russia moved six amphibious assault ships into the Black Sea, augmenting its capability to land on the coast.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Sunday that Russia had well over 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders, “and actually, over the last few days, even more”.
Mr Kirby cited “a mosaic of intelligence” the US had gathered, but gave no details.

We understand all the risks, we understand that there are risks. If you, or anyone else, has additional information regarding a 100% Russian invasion starting on the 16th, please forward that information to us Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
“We have good sources of intelligence and they’re telling us that, you know, that things are sort of building now to some crescendo opportunity for Mr Putin,” he said.
Mr Zelensky’s comments this weekend indicated frustration at the warnings from Washington, as he tried to minimise damage to Ukraine’s economy during the crisis.
“We understand all the risks, we understand that there are risks,” he said in a live broadcast.
“If you, or anyone else, has additional information regarding a 100% Russian invasion starting on the 16th, please forward that information to us.”
In an hour-long call on Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Biden said an invasion of Ukraine would cause “widespread human suffering” and that the West was committed to diplomacy to end the crisis but “equally prepared for other scenarios”, the White House said.
It offered no suggestion that the call had diminished the threat of an imminent war in Europe.

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US President Joe Biden spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday (The White House via AP)

US President Joe Biden spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday (The White House via AP)
Reflecting the West’s concerns, Dutch airline KLM has cancelled flights to Ukraine until further notice, the company said.
And the Ukrainian charter airline SkyUp said on Sunday that its flight from Madeira, Portugal, to Kyiv was diverted to the Moldovan capital of Chisinau after the plane’s Irish lessor said it was banning flights in Ukrainian airspace.
Ukrainian presidential spokesman Serhii Nykyforov told The Associated Press that Ukraine has not closed its airspace.
But Ukraine’s air traffic safety agency Ukraerorukh issued a statement declaring the airspace over the Black Sea to be a “zone of potential danger” and recommended that planes avoid flying over the sea between February 14 and 19.
The Putin/Biden conversation, following a call between Mr Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron earlier in the day, came at a critical moment for what has become the biggest security crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

 

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