Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters Thursday that the U.S. believes Russia may plan to create a pretext to invade Ukraine by producing propaganda video showing aggression toward Russians.
“We do have information that the Russians are likely to want to fabricate a pretext for an invasion,” Kirby said. “One option is the Russian government, we think, is planning to stage a fake attack by Ukrainian military or intelligence forces against Russian sovereign territory, or against Russian speaking people, to therefore justify their action.”
Kirby confirmed a report first published by The Washington Post earlier Thursday that indicated Russia would create a fake attack by Ukraine on Russians.
"We believe that Russia would produce a very graphic propaganda video, which would include corpses and actors that would be depicting mourners and images of destroyed locations, as well as military equipment at the hands of Ukraine or the West, even to the point where some of this equipment would be made to look like it was Western supplied to Ukraine equipment,” Kirby said.
When asked if U.S. officials believe the fake attack was approved by the Kremlin, Kirby said, "Our experience is that very little of this nature is not approved at the highest levels of the Russian government."
The announcement by the Pentagon comes on the same day that congressional lawmakers are being briefed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley about out the ongoing tensions in Ukraine.
The Pentagon announced Wednesday it is deploying and repositioning over 3,000 troops to bolster Eastern European allies, the first such movement of its kind as the U.S. looks to bolster NATO’s capabilities in the region amid growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine.