RUSSIA’S reported plot to justify a Ukraine invasion has sparked World War 3 fears as an expert warns escalating tensions may trigger a major conflict.
Concerns are mounting after a US official reportedly revealed how intelligence suggests Russia has prepositioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine in an attempt to create a reason to invade.
Taras Kuzio, an associate research fellow at Henry Jackson Society, told The Sun US that a “major war” may erupt and said the “crisis is likely to escalate before it de-escalates.”
It comes as a US official told CNN that intelligence teams found evidence that the operatives are trained in urban warfare and in using explosives to carry out a disguised attack against Russia’s own forces.
The claims were echoed by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense on Friday, saying Russian special services are preparing provocations against their own forces in an attempt to frame Ukraine.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan hinted at the report during a briefing on Thursday.
“Our intelligence community has developed information, which has now been downgraded, that Russia is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating the pretext for an invasion,” Sullivan said.
“We saw this playbook in 2014. They are preparing this playbook again, and we will have, the administration will have, further details on what we see as this potential laying of the pretext to share with the press over the course of the next 24 hours.”
On Friday, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry told CNN that “the military units of the aggressor country and its satellites receive orders to prepare for such provocations.”
Russian have continued to claim they will not attack Ukraine unless NATO guarantees it will never let Kiev join the US-led alliance.
Kuzio told The US Sun: “The last thing that NATO wants is for a war to spill over into member states. They want it to remain constrained in Ukraine.”
‘OBSESSION WITH UKRAINE’
He added that Putin has an “obsession” with Ukraine and he will always be fixated on the country.
“Putin is president for life – he can’t leave office. That’s the way their system is. He knows that he can’t trust the people around him – there’s no honor amongst thieves,” Kuzio said.
“He has an obsession with Ukraine – he can’t rebuild his empire without Ukraine. So he will always be fixated. There’s frustration and anger with the West, and he thinks it’s the West preventing Ukraine from coming back to Russia.
“He always sees his war against Ukraine as part of his general war with the West. He doesn’t separate them at all.
“You will have crises periodically throughout Putin’s presidency. When you have this kind of crisis, there’s always a danger that things can escalate,” he added.
Kuzio said that if a major war erupts – it could “feel like the 1980s again”.
“It depends on what Russia does in Ukraine. If it escalates into a full, major war, then what’s going to happen is the Americans, Brits, Canadians are going to supply Ukraine with very good military equipment and it’ll be like the 1980s again,” the expert said.
“Some of that equipment like stingers will kill Russians. It will bring down Russian helicopters.”
On Friday, thousands of Russian troops were seen taking part in combat drills on the border with Ukraine.
The exercises took place at the Kuzminsky and Kadamovsky training grounds in the south-western Russian region of Rostov Oblast, on the border with Ukraine.
According to The Russian Ministry of Defense, a total of over “2,500 servicemen of the Southern Military District took part in the combat training events, and around 100 T-72B3 tanks were involved.”
Western intelligence officials believe that up to 100,000 Russian soldiers have been massed near Ukraine’s borders.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed Western countries had shared intel about Moscow military movement after the US warned of a potential attack.
Zelensky said in a speech on his website: “I hope the whole world can now clearly see who really wants peace and who is concentrating nearly 100,000 soldiers at our border.”
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry previously put the number of Russian troops near the border at 90,000 on November 3.
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