Status: 01/14/2022 8:46 p.m.
The tone between the United States and Russia remains tense on the Ukrainian crisis. Washington now accuses the Kremlin of agents preparing acts of sabotage. Russia issued an ultimatum to the West.
For days, senior Russian and American diplomats discussed how and whether to resolve the Ukrainian conflict. Despite a marathon of negotiations, no agreement has been reached so far. Instead, both sides continue to hit bright tones. The US government has accused Russia of creating a pretext for a possible invasion of Ukraine. The basis of the accusation is therefore the findings of the secret services.
“We have information that suggests Russia has already deployed a group of operatives to conduct a false flag operation in eastern Ukraine,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. These agents are trained in “urban warfare” and the handling of explosives in order to commit acts of sabotage against Russian officials, for whom Moscow then wants to hold Kiev responsible.
“We fear that the Russian government is planning an invasion of Ukraine which could lead to widespread human rights violations and war crimes if diplomacy fails to achieve its goals,” Psaki said. The White House has given no indication of how realistic it considers the intelligence services’ assessment.
In addition to the “false flag operation”, the groundwork for a disinformation campaign was also laid, in which Ukraine was presented as an aggressor planning an imminent attack in eastern Ukraine, a explained PSAKI. This should justify Russian intervention and sow division in Ukraine.
Russian officials were spreading stories about the deteriorating human rights situation in Ukraine and the growing militancy of Ukrainian leaders. “It’s the whole spread of misinformation,” Psaki said. This procedure has already been known since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea.
Lavrov: ‘We’re running out of patience’
Before Psaki went to the press, the allegations against Russia were leaked by unnamed government officials in Washington. Their reports sparked outrage in Moscow. “All these statements are unfounded so far and have not been confirmed by anything,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the official TASS news agency.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demanded a quick written response to his request for security guarantees. NATO troops and weapons near Russia’s borders pose a security challenge to his country that must be addressed immediately, he said. He expects a response by next week. Otherwise, Russia will decide how to reliably ensure its security. “We are at the end of our patience,” Lavrov said.
He made it clear that arms control talks were secondary for his country. “You have to understand that the key to everything is ensuring that NATO doesn’t expand eastward,” he said. Russia requirements are a package not a menu to choose from.
Massive troop deployment
According to Western estimates, Russia has massed around 100,000 troops, tanks and heavy weapons near the Ukrainian border. In view of the massive deployment of troops, the West fears that Russia is preparing to invade the neighboring country.
The Kremlin categorically denies it. President Vladimir Putin demanded guarantees that NATO would not accept Ukraine or other states that were once part of the Soviet Union. In addition, NATO must withdraw military equipment not only from Ukraine, but also from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which have been NATO members for 18 years. The West has already rejected these demands.
EU adopts ten-point plan
Tensions in the Ukrainian conflict had therefore risen again. On Wednesday, the 30 NATO nations and Russia held consultations for the first time in two and a half years.
At a meeting in Brest, France, EU foreign ministers agreed on a ten-point plan for dealing with Russia. The concept envisages relying on a mix of deterrence and dialogue for the deployment of troops.