CNN anchor Jake Tapper challenged National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan directly over claims that the Russian government was prepared to launch a false flag operation to justify a subsequent invasion of Ukraine.
Sullivan made a Sunday morning appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” to discuss the ongoing situation between Russia and Ukraine, and Tapper questioned the U.S. government’s claims regarding the possibility of a false flag operation, which he said were made “without presenting a shred of evidence” to support them.
“We’re not putting forward this intelligence to start a war, which has happened in the past. We are putting forward this intelligence to stop a war.”
— National Sec. Advisor Jake Sullivan on credibility of intelligence about Russian “false flag” plan to justify Ukraine attack. pic.twitter.com/MUMwasWHK1
— The Recount (@therecount) February 13, 2022
Tapper set the stage as he opened the show, saying that for weeks the United States had been warning that a Russian attack on Ukraine was possible — and perhaps likely – even as Ukrainian officials begged U.S. officials to dial back the rhetoric and turn down the temperature.
“I’m Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is bracing for potential war in Europe. The White House warning in stark terms this weekend that Russia is poised to invade Ukraine any day now, a senior administration official saying yesterday that military action that will cause damage is a distinct possibility, as Russian forces with heavy-duty military equipment close in on Ukraine’s borders, President Biden warned Russia’s president Vladimir Putin of ‘swift and severe costs’ if he chooses to invade. The call did little to convince the White House that Russia will not attack,” Tapper began.
“Those fears have led the U.S. and a growing list of other nations to urge citizens to leave Ukraine almost immediately as the U.S. evacuates staff at its embassy in Kyiv,” Tapper continued. “Part of the warning is an extraordinary public declaration that they believe Russia may use a false flag operation to justify bombings and missile attacks in Ukraine. That Russia would stage a fake attack on themselves to justify an invasion that could ultimately kill tens of thousands and destabilize key American and European allies in what Biden says would be the largest envision in World War II on that continent.”
Tapper introduced Sullivan then, asking how he expected the situation to play out in the coming days.
“Well, Jake, we cannot perfectly predict the day, but we have been saying for some time that we are in the window and an invasion could begin, a major military action could begin by Russia in Ukraine any day now,” Sullivan replied, noting that some expected a move toward the finish of the Beijing Olympic Games but a move before the Olympics were over was also a possibility.
“You’ve been warning about the Russians using a false flag operation to justify invading Ukraine. That’s a strong claim to make without a shred of evidence,” Tapper pressed, noting that unless the federal government was prepared to present credible evidence, the American people were likely to remain skeptical of the claims.
Sullivan pushed back, arguing that people should accept the information as credible in part because the government was putting it forward to stop a war rather than to start one.
“I think that fundamentally gives it at the outset a different level of credibility. Secondly, this is consistent with the Russian playbook,” Sullivan continued. “We have seen them do this before many times. You asked any Russia expert, they will point to examples of where Russia has used false flag operations as pretext to start military action.”
Sullivan concluded by claiming that Russian media was already laying the groundwork for just such a pretext by issuing warnings that Ukraine was planning to attack Russian forces.
“I do think the world should be prepared for Russia staging a pretext and then launching a potential military action,” he said.
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