Russia plans to ‘manufacture’ pretext to attack Ukraine ‘in the coming days’: US at UN

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United Nations, Feb 17: The US on Thursday told the UN Security Council that its information indicates clearly that over 150,000 Russian forces amassed around Ukraine’s borders are preparing to attack Ukraine “in the coming days” and Moscow “plans to manufacture a pretext” for its strike. “As we meet today, the most immediate threat to peace and security is Russia’s looming aggression against Ukraine,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine.

Russia plans to manufacture pretext to attack Ukraine in the coming days: US at UN

Blinken, who arrived in New York to address the Security Council before heading for the Munich Security Conference, said over the past months, without “provocation or justification”, Russia has amassed more than 150,000 troops around Ukraine’s borders. “Russia says it’s drawing down those forces. We do not see that happening on the ground. Our information indicates clearly that these forces including ground troops, aircraft, ships are preparing to launch an attack against Ukraine in the coming days,” he said.

Blinken said while “we don’t know precisely” how things will play out, he outlined what the world can “expect to see unfold”. “In fact, it’s unfolding right now, today, as Russia takes steps down the path to war and re-issued the threat of military action. First, Russia plans to manufacture a pretext for its attack,” he said, adding that this could be a violent event that Moscow will blame on Ukraine, or an “outrageous accusation” that the Kremlin will level against the Ukrainian government.

“We don’t know exactly the form it will take. It could be a fabricated so called terrorist bombing inside Russia. The invented discovery of the mass grave, a staged drone strike against civilians, or a fake even a real attack using chemical weapons,” Blinken said. He said that in response to this “manufactured provocation”, the highest levels of the Russian government may “theatrically” convene emergency meetings to address the so-called crisis.

“The government will issue proclamations declaring that Russia must respond to defend Russian citizens or ethnic Russians in Ukraine. Next, the attack is planned to begin,” Blinken said. Giving an outline of how things could play out, Blinken said Russian missiles and bombs will drop across Ukraine, communications will be jammed, cyber attacks will shut down key Ukrainian institutions and after that, Russian tanks and soldiers will advance on key targets that have “already been identified and mapped out in detailed plans. He said “we believe these targets include Ukraine’s capital Kyiv”, which is a city of 2.8 million people.

“We have information that indicates Russia will target specific groups of Ukrainians. We’ve been warning the Ukrainian government of all that is coming,” Blinken said. “I am here today not to start war, but to prevent one,” he asserted, underlining that the stakes in this go far beyond Ukraine and this is a moment of peril for the lives and safety of millions of people, as well as for the foundation of the United Nations Charter and the “rules-based” international order that preserves stability worldwide.

“This crisis directly affects every member of this Council and every country in the world because the basic principles that sustain peace and security, principles that were enshrined in the wake of two world wars and a Cold War, are under threat. “The principle that one country cannot change the borders of another by force, the principle that one country cannot dictate another’s choices or policies, or with whom it will associate, the principle of national sovereignty.

This is the exact kind of crisis that the United Nations and specifically this Security Council was created to prevent,” Blinken said. Earlier in the day, US President Joe Biden also said that America has “every indication” that Russia is prepared to move into Ukraine in the next couple of days. Both Biden and Blinken’s comments came amid heightened tensions between Russia and the US, fuelled by fears that Moscow plans to invade Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly denied that it has plans to attack Ukraine. PTI

Story first published: Friday, February 18, 2022, 0:19 [IST]

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