Amid the growing tension in relations between Russia and the West, the US Embassy published an article entitled “How Russia conducts operations under foreign flags.”
In the article, the embassy warns countries about Russia’s possible provocations on foreign territory under foreign masks, reports nokta.md
Why would the Russian Federation send disguised soldiers to organize protests in other countries? Or give an order to its troops to attack its own partners?
Russia has a broad experience in conducting operations “under false flags” aimed at presenting itself or its partners as victims, evading responsibility, sowing confusion and creating a pretext for starting a war.
In 2008, Russia sent unmarked soldiers to foment unrest in Georgia. When the Georgian government reacted, Russia invaded.
In 2014, Russian special forces entered the Ukrainian Crimea under the guise of local self-defense forces and seized administrative buildings. After a short time, Crimea was occupied by Russia.
Now the US is warning that the Kremlin may return to the old scenario.
“We have information indicating that Russia has previously deployed a group of operatives in eastern Ukraine to conduct an operation under a false flag,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on January 14. “The operatives were trained to commit sabotage against Russian proxy forces.”
Fears that Russia may conduct such an operation in Ukraine take place amid the deployment by Russian President Vladimir Putin of more than 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border and the spread of false statements about Ukraine’s intentions to provoke a conflict.
For decades, operations under false flags have been carried out by [the Soviet Union and] Russia in various forms. So, in November 1939, the USSR shelled its own troops at the Soviet village of Maynila near the border with Finland, and then, accusing Finland of shelling, invaded this neighboring country violating the non-aggression pact.
More recently, Russian state hackers, in order to avoid responsibility, disguised themselves as Iranian agents or agents of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In 2017, with the help of ransomware, Russia conducted cyber-attacks on the servers of Ukrainian companies. A joint investigation involving Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and the United States showed that although the cyberattack was disguised in such a way that the responsibility was assigned to the extortionists, in reality it was organized by the Kremlin.
A NATO report published in June 2021 on Russia’s strategy in cyberspace indicated that Russian operations under false flags hindered efforts to identify hackers and bring them to justice.
On January 14, Ukrainian officials announced a hacker attack on government websites, including the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Apparently, Russia is responsible for the cyberattack. “The investigation is ongoing, but the Security Service of Ukraine has received preliminary data indicating that hacker groups associated with Russian special services may be behind today's massive cyberattack on government websites,” said Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
The United States, its allies and partners are calling for a peaceful settlement. To develop a unified approach to countering the Russian threat against Ukraine, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Kiev, Berlin and Geneva on January 18-21.
During a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held in Geneva on January 21, Anthony Blinken called on Russia to de-escalate tensions and withdraw troops from the border with Ukraine. The Secretary of State reaffirmed the unwavering commitment of the United States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.