Washington: Ukraine has become a bone of contention between old rivals United States (US) and Russia. The east European country is the new theatre of the Great Game between the two global superpowers.
The US Intelligence agencies monitoring Russian cyber operations against Ukraine believe Russia's pattern of activity could signal a ground invasion of Ukraine within the next 30 days, US officials said on Friday.
"We do have information that indicates that Russia is already working actively to create a pretext for a potential invasion, for a move on Ukraine," Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters on Friday.
Kirby told reporters, "One could imagine, right, that an attack like that is meant to disrupt capability to try to dissuade action, to try to change the behaviours or the leadership decisions inside Ukraine. I mean, any number of reasons, not to mention just to intimidate."
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration was concerned Russia would stage such an attack, saying it was similar to what Moscow did in 2014 by accusing Ukraine of preparing an attack against Russian forces and warned it could happen between mid-January and mid-February.
"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.
The accusation from the US comes after a week of diplomatic engagement between the US, its European allies and Russia, which ended on Thursday with no major breakthroughs. Moscow hasn't directly committed to engaging in any future dialogue.
As part of the false-flag plans, Washington has information indicating that Moscow has prepositioned a group of operatives who are trained in urban warfare and using explosives to carry out "acts of sabotage against Russia's own proxy forces," an official told reporters.
The United States information also indicates that Russian influence actors are starting to fabricate Ukrainian provocations on in-state and social media sites to justify a Russian intervention.
Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine's border, sparking fears that Moscow may be planning to invade its neighbour in a manner similar to when it annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
US President Joe Biden has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow would face serious economic sanctions if Russia were to invade Ukraine. Moscow, however, has repeatedly denied any intentions of invading Ukraine.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Thursday that the threat of a second invasion was "high" and said the US would have details on "what we see as this potential laying of a pretext" to share with the press.