actors playing mourners; Moscow accuses US of heightening tensions with troops

A Russian Army Service Member
File photo: A Russian army service member is seen on an armoured personnel carrier BTR-82 during drills at the Kuzminsky range in the southern Rostov region, Russia January 26, 2022 Reuters

Reuters

February 4, 2022 9:37 AM

Russia has formulated several options as an excuse to invade Ukraine, including the potential use of a propaganda video showing a staged attack, the United States said on Thursday, as the Kremlin condemned American troop deployments in the region.

Russia, which seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backs separatists in the east of the country, is demanding security guarantees including a promise Nato will never admit Kyiv as it has amassed some 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border.

The United States has said there is little chance of Ukraine joining Nato soon but that the country should decide its own future as the powers clash over their spheres of influence in post-Cold War Europe.

US intelligence believes Russia could use a fabricated video showing the graphic aftermath of an explosion, including equipment appearing to belong to Ukraine or allied nations, to justify an incursion.

It “would involve actors playing mourners for people who are killed in an event that they (Russia) would have created themselves… (and) deployment of corpses to represent bodies purportedly killed,” US Deputy National Security Advisor Jonathan Finer told MSNBC.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the reports, according to the TASS news agency, saying similar things had been said previously but amounted to nothing.

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Moscow has denied accusations in the past that it is trying to manufacture a conflict and says it is not planning an invasion but that it could take unspecified military action if its security demands are not met.

The Kremlin accused Washington on Thursday of ignoring its calls to ease the standoff, a day after the United States announced it would send nearly 3,000 extra troops to Poland and Romania.

“It’s obvious that these are not steps aimed at de-escalating tensions, but on the contrary they are actions that lead to increasing tension,” Peskov said on a conference call on Thursday.

“We constantly call on our American counterparts to stop aggravating tensions on the European continent. Unfortunately, the Americans continue to do so,” he said.

Paratroopers with the US Army boarded aircraft on Thursday to leave for Eastern Europe “in support of assuring our Nato allies and our partners in deterring Russia,” US Army spokesman Matthew Visser said.

The soldiers were departing from Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Around 1,700 service members, mainly from the 82nd Airborne Division, were being deployed to Poland, while 300 others wil

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