State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed skepticism on Saturday about Russian reports of a car bomb attack in a separatist-controlled region in eastern Ukraine, pointing evidence of continued Russian disinformation campaigns to fabricate a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine.
Russian-backed news agencies said the vehicle belonged to a senior member of a separatist group. The vehicle was unoccupied at the time and no one was injured in the blast, Reuters reported.
“We are seeing increasing evidence that Russian disinformation is being used as a pretext for a possible Russian attack on Ukraine,” Price said. wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “Today residents of Donetsk reported calm despite Russian claims of a car bomb.”
We see growing evidence that Russian disinformation is being used as a pretext for a possible Russian attack on Ukraine. Today residents of Donetsk reported calm despite Russian claims of a car bomb. https://t.co/TpxzqDUJAo
—Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) February 19, 2022
President Biden said on Friday that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, had “made the decision” to strike Ukraine, warning against Kremlin-orchestrated false flag operations in the coming days as a pretext for an attack. Speaking at a security conference in Munich on Saturday, Vice President Harris echoed those warnings.
“There is a playbook on Russian aggression,” Harris told heads of state and government, foreign dignitaries and a large delegation from the United States. “And this playbook is too familiar to all of us. Russia will plead ignorance and innocence. This will create a false pretext for the invasion. And he will amass troops and firepower for all to see.
Even Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – who has previously expressed frustration that gloomy predictions by US military and intelligence officials about an impending invasion are hurting Ukraine’s economy – acknowledged on Saturday that the troops Putin had amassed along the border were on the lookout for any exploitable provocation. , and that “a bombardment, a cannon shot, can lead to war”.