Fears of Russian invasion of Ukraine rises despite US push for diplomacy
U.S. officials are raising alarm that Russian threats of war against Ukraine are spiking dangerously despite the conclusion of a week of diplomatic meetings aimed at avoiding the outbreak of open conflict. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned Thursday that Russia is preparing a "false flag" operation to use as a pretext to launch an offensive against Kyiv on top of its buildup of more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine's eastern border.National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned Thursday that Russia is preparing a "false flag" operation to use as a pretext to launch an offensive against Kyiv on top of its buildup of more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine's eastern border.
The United Kingdom's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on Saturday put out a statement saying it had obtained information indicating that the Russian government is planning to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine.
The statement says Yevhen Murayev, a former member of the Ukrainian parliament, is being considered as a potential candidate for the role.
The information comes amid heightened tensions in the region as Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border. President Biden predicted this week Russia "will move in" to the neighboring country.
Ukraine: in Kiev, Blinken calls for choosing a "Pacific way"
Your Browser does not support this video pass that does not end. On Wednesday, the US Secretary of State called the Russian President Vladimir Putin to choose the "peaceful path" to get out of the crisis around the Ukraine , while noting that Moscow could reinforce "very quickly" his troops that already threaten his neighbor.
"The information being released today shines a light on the extent of Russian activity designed to subvert Ukraine, and is an insight into Kremlin thinking," British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.
"Russia must de-escalate, end its campaigns of aggression and disinformation, and pursue a path of diplomacy. As the UK and our partners have said repeatedly, any Russian military incursion into Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake with severe costs," she continued.
The office also released a list of former Ukrainian politicians with links to Russia's intelligence services, suggesting that some of them "have contact with Russian intelligence officers currently involved in the planning for an attack on Ukraine."
U.S. rushes weapons into Ukraine as Biden predicts a Russian invasion
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is trying to keep NATO allies on the "same page" after Mr. Biden said it was his "guess" that Putin would order forces to "move in" to Ukraine."He has to do something," Mr. Biden said during a White House news conference, warning that if Putin did decide to invade his neighbor, Russia would suffer "consequential" loss of life. The president didn't elaborate on the level of military assistance the U.S. might offer Ukraine in the face of an invasion, but it came as his administration worked with NATO allies to bolster Ukraine's forces — and quickly.
Video: US negotiates for diplomatic solution to Russia-Ukraine crisis (ABC News)
The Russian foreign ministry denied the accusations.
"The spread of disinformation by the British foreign ministry is one more piece of evidence that NATO countries, led by the Anglo Saxons, are escalating tensions around Ukraine," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement, The New York Times reported. "We call on the British foreign ministry to stop its prevocational activities."
Moscow has also repeatedly denied having any intention of invading Ukraine.
The U.K. is a formal ally of the U.S. and is included in the NATO alliance, which has vowed to support Ukrainian independence and impose significant consequences on Russia if it invades.
This week, the U.S. cleared three NATO nations to send American-made weapons to Ukraine.
On Thursday, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said any Russian invasion "would be a disaster - not just for Ukraine but for Russia, a disaster for the world."
- Updated at 8:01 p.m.
Biden Says Russian Invasion of Ukraine Could Be 'Largest Invasion Since WWII' .
President Joe Biden again warned Russia of severe consequences if it invades Ukraine, saying the military operation would have worldwide effects.Biden again underscored the gravity of the tense situation at the border between the two Eastern European countries, where Russia has amassed 100,000 troops in possible preparation of an invasion of the former Soviet republic.