Russia is preparing a pretext for invading Ukraine, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said at a news briefing on Jan. 13, citing intelligence information.
“Russia is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating a pretext for an invasion, including through sabotage activities and information operations, by accusing Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack against Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine,” he said. “We saw this playbook in 2014. They are preparing this playbook again. And we will have further details on what we see as this potential laying of a pretext to share with the press over the course of the next 24 hours.”
The statement comes amid speculation that Russia is preparing a new invasion of Ukraine. Russia has amassed over 100,000 troops and conducted exercises along Ukraine's borders.
Talks between Russia and the West over the past week have reached an impasse, with neither willing to budge on Russia’s core demand of preventing Ukraine's potential accession to NATO and pulling NATO members’ forces back from Eastern Europe.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate on Jan. 13 failed to pass a Republican-sponsored bill to introduce sanctions on Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea immediately.
U.S. President Joe Biden has opposed sanctioning the pipeline now, and the Democrats have drafted a separate bill that would impose such sanctions only if Russia launches another invasion of Ukraine.
In December the European Union's parliament also passed a non-binding resolution calling on the most severe economic and political sanctions to be imposed on the Russian economy and leadership in case of a full-scale war.
In particular, the document demanded that Russia be disconnected from the SWIFT banking system, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project be aborted, while key Russian military and political decision-makers be subjected to harsh sanctions curtailing their capabilities to wage war on Ukraine.