According to a senior Biden administration official, the U.S. has received intelligence that indicates that Russia has created a planto stage a fake Ukrainian invasion to create a pretext to military action.
The intelligence was revealed by the U.S. during diplomatic efforts to keep simmering tensions in check from turning into war.
After meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskyy the Ukrainian President, Recep Tayyip Erdan, Turkish President, offered to mediate between Kyiv & Moscow through hosting talks.
Emmanuel Macron, the French President, spoke by telephone with Zelenskyy and Vladimir Putin, Russian President.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed concern that Russia continues to increase troop numbers along Ukraine’s borders, including in Belarus.
These are some things you should know about Thursday’s international tensions around Ukraine. The country has at least 100,000 Russian troops stationed along its border.
U.S. WARNING ABOUT A RUSSIAN FALSE-FLAG’ OPERATION
According to U.S intelligence, the Russian government has a plan to stage an attack. This would portray the Ukrainian military and intelligence forces attacking Russian territory. A senior Biden administration official stated Thursday.
According to an official who was not authorized to speak publicly, the plan would include the production of a graphic propaganda film that would depict staged explosions as well as corpses and actors portraying grieving mourners.
This is the latest claim by the U.S., Britain, and others that Russia plots to use false pretexts to wage war on Ukraine.
The White House is concerned about the possibility that Putin’s video could be released and provide him with “the spark” he needs to put into motion military action.
DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS FOR DEFUSECRISIS
Erdogan offered to host talks between Moscow, Kyiv in an effort to ease tensions that have led fears of war.
“Turkey is ready to do its part to end the crisis that exists between two friendly countries that are its neighbours in the Black Sea,” Zelenskyy said at a joint news conference.
Erdogan stated that instead of fueling the flames, he would act with the logical goal of reducing tensions. He offered to host a meeting at either a technical or leadership level.
He reiterated Turkey’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.
Putin also met with the Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez, and they spoke to Macron by phone. Joe Biden had a Wednesday night call with Macron. Macron spoke then with Zelenskyy.
According to Macron’s office, the calls were part Macron’s effort to “pursue dialog to identify elements that might lead to de-escalation.” They also discussed efforts to end the conflict in Ukraine and “conditions of strategic balance in Europe,” which should reduce risks on the ground, and ensure security on the continent.
NATO: ‘SIGNIFICANT RUSSIAN TROOP BUILDUP in BELARUS
Stoltenberg stated to reporters at NATO headquarters, that Moscow had now sent more troops and equipment towards Belarus than at any other time in the past 30 years.
According to NATO’s chief, Russian forces in Belarus will likely rise to 30,000, with special forces supported by fighter jets, missiles, and other support.
Sergei Shoigu, Russian Defense Minister, arrived in Minsk on Thursday to oversee preparations for major Russia/Belarus war games, which are scheduled to take place February 10-20.
Stoltenberg called for Russia to “deescalate” and reiterated warnings from the West about “any further Russian aggression having severe consequences and carrying a heavy cost.”
FRANCE SENDS TROOPS TO ROMANIA
Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Foreign Minister, confirmed Thursday that Paris will send troop reinforcements to Romania as part of France’s commitment to NATO and its member countries in Eastern Europe.
He didn’t say how many French soldiers would be deployed. This announcement was made a day after the U.S. stated that it was moving troops stationed at Germany to Romania.
Le Drian stated at a Bucharest press conference that NATO should not move troops to its eastern flank to disrupt diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions in Ukraine.
Le Drian stated that “the real goal is de-escalation” and that all must be done to achieve it as quickly as possible. How do we get there? Talking and deterring.
Bogdan Aurescu, Romania’s Foreign Minister, stated that the dual track approach of diplomacy and military deterrence is the best way to calm boiling tensions and prevent war.
UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER CALLS FOR CALM
The defense minister of Ukraine is encouraging calm and stating that the probability of a Russian invasion was low.
Oleksii Reznikov stated that the threat of an attack has been looming over the country since 2014 when Russia seized Crimea. However, he said: “There is no reason to panic, fear flight or pack your bags.”
According to the minister, there are approximately 115,000 Russian troops close to Ukraine’s borders, which includes those sent to Belarus for war-games, but no battle groups were detected at Ukraine’s border with Belarus.
He also reiterated his earlier assurances that Kyiv does not plan to attack rebel-held territories in war-torn eastern Ukraine or Crimea, something the Kremlin has accused Kyiv with plotting.
After meeting with Fernandez , Putin departs Thursday night for Beijing in order to strengthen Moscow’s relations with China and coordinate their actions under Western pressure.
Putin, a huge fan of ice hockey, will attend Friday’s opening ceremony at the Winter Olympics.
Talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping will be their first meeting since 2019. They will also cement a strong personal connection that has been a key element in the growing partnership between these two ex-Communist rivals.
Yuri Ushakov is Putin’s foreign policy adviser. He said that the visit would be a new phase in a Russia/China partnership, which he described as a key factor contributing to sustainable global growth and countering destructive activities by some countries.
Ushakov stressed that Russia backs China in the current conflict over Ukraine.