The White House believes Russia is preparing to use a fake or provoked attack along the Ukrainian border to justify send tens of thousands of the troops amassed along the border into Ukraine, the Associated Press reports.
During her afternoon briefing Friday, press secretary Jen Psaki said intelligence analysts have identified a social media campaign being deployed by the Russians to lay the groundwork for a claim of being attacked, and framing Ukraine as aggressor.
“We are concerned that the Russian government is preparing for an invasion in Ukraine that may result in widespread human rights violations and war crimes should diplomacy fail to meet their objectives,” Psaki said. Intelligence estimates put the window for invasion at mid-January to early February.
The Biden Administration and Western governments have repeatedly warned Putin that invading Ukraine would lead to crippling sanctions.
On Thursday, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the pattern of Russian behavior is similar to 2014, just prior to Russia invading and annexing Crimea, which had been a Ukrainian territory for six decades.