United States intelligence officials have evidence that Russia is preparing to fabricate a pretext to invade Ukraine by training operatives “to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s own proxy forces,” according to CNN.

The false-flag operation involves Russian-backed commandos who specialize in urban warfare and explosives.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken alluded last week to the possibility that Russia would manufacture a conflict and blame it on the Ukrainians, telling reporters “No one should be surprised if Russia instigates a provocation or incident – then tries to use it to justify military intervention, hoping that by the time the world realizes the ruse, it’ll be too late. The idea that Ukraine is the aggressor in this situation is absurd.”

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also addressed a possible false-flag operation on Thursday.

“We saw this playbook in 2014,” he said, “They are preparing this playbook again and we will have, the administration will have, further details on what we see as this potential laying of the pretext to share with the press over the course of the next 24 hours.”

CNN provides important background:

The US intelligence finding comes after a week’s worth of diplomatic meetings between Russian and Western officials over Russia’s amassing of tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine’s border. But the talks failed to achieve any breakthroughs, as Russia would not commit to de-escalating and American and NATO officials said Moscow’s demands — including that NATO never admit Ukraine into the alliance — were non-starters.

The Wall Street Journal adds:

The U.S. and its allies have said they would respond to an invasion with unprecedented economic sanctions on Russia, stepped-up support for Ukraine’s defense and military reinforcements on NATO’s eastern flank, closest to Russia.