A chemical leak in Russian-occupied Donbas may become a pretext for a Russian invasion into Ukraine, Ukraine’s intelligence believes.
In a statement published on its Facebook page on 15 January, Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense (GUR) informed that the Russian occupation administration lost control over chemical substances that are being brought into occupied Donbas. This could be part of a red-flag operation to intensify aggression against Ukraine, it warns.
According to the military intelligence of Ukraine, on January 14, containers that are leaking toxic ammonia were delivered to PJSC Concern Stirol, a fertilizer plant in Horlivka, a city in Donbas occupied by Russian troops. This can lead to an environmental catastrophe in eastern Ukraine that could be used by Russia to accuse Ukraine of using chemical weapons and as a pretext to intensify the armed aggression against Ukraine, intelligence says.
This report comes hard on the heels of warnings by GUR on 14 January that Russia is planning provocations against the Russian military stationed in Transnistria in order to accuse Ukraine of them. The same day, an unnamed US official told media that the US has evidence that Russia has prepared a group of operatives trained in urban warfare and in using explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia's own proxy forces.
The official said that Washington believes Russia could be preparing this false-flag operation for an invasion into Ukraine "that may result in widespread human rights violations and war crimes should diplomacy fail to meet their objectives."
The day before, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the US intelligence has information that Russia may be preparing the pretext for an invasion.
These warnings were issued after a week of talks between Russia and the West in which Russia failed to achieve its diplomatic objectives of receiving "security guarantees" that NATO will not expand into Ukraine and will withdraw from eastern Europe overall. Experts are now wondering Russia will try to compensate for its diplomatic failure with a military escalation.