A Ukrainian soldier keeps guard at a building outside of Maryinka, Ukraine on February 2, 2022.

A Ukrainian soldier keeps guard at a building outside of Maryinka, Ukraine on February 2, 2022. Anadolu Agency via Getty Images / Wolfgang Schwan

Russia Considering Fake Video With ‘Corpses’ As Pretext For Ukrainian Invasion, Pentagon Says

Propaganda video would show fake attack and blame the west for supplying weapons.

The U.S. believes Russia may be planning to release a fake video showing an attack by Ukraine to justify an invasion, U.S. officials said Thursday. 

“We do have information that it is, that the Russians are likely to want to fabricate a pretext for an invasion, which, again, is right out of their playbook,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Thursday. “One option is the Russian government, we think, is planning to stage a fake attack by Ukrainian military or intelligence forces against Russian sovereign territory, or against Russian-speaking people, to therefore justify their action” to launch further military operations inside Ukraine. 

Deputy National Security advisor Jon Finer told MSNBC that it is not definite that Russia will pursue a fake video, but that it has used similar disinformation in the past.  

The U.S. government usually keeps this type of intelligence close-hold, but Finer said the administration chose to get it in the open to try to prevent Russia from taking this course of action. 

In a statement to Defense One, a senior administration official said, “We believe that Russia has already recruited those who will be involved in the fabricated attack and that Russian intelligence is intimately involved in this effort.” 

The level of detail the U.S. was able to provide on what they thought the video would contain was striking. The senior administration official said it could involve Turkish-made Bayraktar drones “as a means to implicate NATO in the attack.”  

Kirby also said the plot “would include corpses, and actors that would be depicting mourners, and images of destroyed locations as well as military equipment at the hands of Ukraine,” and also make it look like it was Western-supplied equipment that was responsible for the casualties. 

U.S. officials were on Capitol Hill on Thursday briefing lawmakers on the latest assessments of Russia’s military buildup along the Ukrainian border. Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops along the border, and recently announced the country will conduct massive military exercises with Belarus for the next several weeks, which some security experts suspect would be used as a cover to launch an attack against Ukraine.