The official said the United States had evidence that the militants had been trained in urban warfare and in the use of explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russian proxy forces.
These allegations echo a statement issued by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, on Friday, which stated that the Russian special services were preparing for provocations against Russian forces in an attempt to threaten Ukraine. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan hinted at the intelligence during a briefing with reporters Thursday.
“Our intelligence community has developed information, now downgraded, that Russia is paving the way for the option of creating a pretext for an invasion,” Sullivan said Thursday. “We saw this evidence in 2014. They are preparing that evidence again and we will have, the administration will have, more details on what we see as a possible placement of the pretext to share with the press over the next 24 hours.”
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement, Friday, that “the military units of the aggressor country and its satellites are receiving orders to prepare for such provocations.”
The US official said the Biden administration believed Russia could prepare for an invasion of Ukraine “which could lead to widespread human rights abuses and war crimes if diplomacy fails to achieve its goals.”
“The Russian army plans to start these activities several weeks before the military invasion, which may start between mid-January and mid-February,” the official said. “We saw this evidence in 2014 with Crimea.”
The official said the United States has also seen Russian influencers direct Russian publics to intervene, including emphasizing accounts of deteriorating human rights in Ukraine and the hardening of Ukrainian leaders.
“During December, Russian-language content on social media covering all three of these novels rose to nearly 3,500 shares per day, a 200 percent increase from the daily average in November,” the official noted.
This story is down and will be updated