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International relations

U.S. accuses Russia of planning 'false-flag operation' in eastern Ukraine

Claim follows cyber attack on government websites and faltering diplomatic efforts to defuse crisis

A Ukrainian sailor uses equipment on board an armored gunboat on Jan. 12.   © Reuters

KYIV/BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON (Financial Times) -- The US has accused Russia of planning covert operations, including sabotage, in eastern Ukraine in an effort to create a "pretext for invasion", after diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis faltered and government websites were hit by a major cyber attack.

A US official said on Friday: "We have information that indicates Russia has already pre-positioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine. The operatives are trained in urban warfare and in using explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia's own proxy-forces."

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