State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed skepticism Saturday about Russian reports of a car bombing in a separatist-controlled region in eastern Ukraine, pointing to 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 top official in a separatist group. The vehicle was unoccupied at the time, and nobody was hurt in the explosion, Reuters reported.
“We are seeing more evidence of Russian disinformation being used as pretext for a potential Russian attack on Ukraine,” Price wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “Today, locals in Donetsk reported calm despite Russian claims of a car bomb.”
President Biden said Friday that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, has “made the decision” to strike Ukraine, warning of Kremlin-orchestrated false-flag operations in the coming days as pretext for an attack. Speaking at a security conference in Munich on Saturday, Vice President Harris echoed those warnings.
“There is a playbook of Russian aggression,” Harris told the heads of state and government, foreign dignitaries and a large delegation from the United States. “And this playbook is too familiar for us all. Russia will plead ignorance and innocence. It will create a false pretext for invasion. And it will amass troops and firepower in plain sight.”
Even Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — who has previously expressed frustration that the grim predictions from U.S. military and intelligence officials about an imminent invasion are damaging Ukraine’s economy — on Saturday conceded that troops Putin had built up along the border were on the lookout for any exploitable provocation, and that “one shelling, one cannon fire, can lead to war.”