Russia – Ukraine tensions are hard to defuse. The US, NATO and European officials held high-stakes meetings this week with Russian officials. At the end of the three meetings on Thursday, both sides came away with a pessimistic outlook. After a week of diplomacy discussions, the U.S. on Friday accused Russia of “fabricating a pretext” to invade Ukraine, in a so called false flag operation. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday that “the military units of the aggressor country and its satellites receive orders to prepare for such provocations.” Russia has approximately 100,000 troops on its borders with Ukraine, with potential plans for as many as 175,000.
A massive cyberattack against Ukrainian government sites on Friday sparked new fears. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said theirs and other sites were temporarily down, with a message posted on the site by the attackers, address to “Ukrainians!” approximately 90 percent of sites have been restored. “There was no leak of important data. The content of the websites was not damaged,” Viktor Zhora, the deputy head of the state agency in charge of special communication and information protection said. U.S. intelligence has “information that indicates Russia has already prepositioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine,” an American official declared Friday. That Russian action could occur sometime between the middle of this month and mid-February. The Kremlin dismissed the accusations, saying no proof has been presented.