US sets up task force for Ukraine as potential Russia attack looms

“We’ve seen Russian officials plant stories in the press that could be elevated to serve as a pretext for an invasion,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price said.

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The US has set up a task force for the situation in Ukraine, the State Department said Wednesday, as it stepped up its warning that Russia was spreading disinformation as a pretext to attack Ukraine.

Washington’s concern about a potential Russian invasion “has not diminished,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price told reporters during the daily press briefing.

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Responding to statements and reports from Russia and its state-run media outlets, Price vehemently denied claims that the US was developing biological and chemical weapons for Russian-controlled territories.

“We’ve seen Russian officials plant stories in the press that could be elevated to serve as a pretext for an invasion,” he said.

He added: “We’re very concerned because we know broadly that the Russians want to point to a fabricated pretext before undertaking aggression. It’s precisely what they did in 2014 in Ukraine.”

Price also said that a task force was formed at the State Department “in recent days” with a “large team that incorporates many of the elements in this building.”

He did not elaborate on who was heading the team.

Tensions have been boiling over the US belief that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is preparing to invade neighboring Ukraine.

Despite his claims to the contrary, intelligence reports suggest Putin could order military action at any time.

Biden ordered the deployment of thousands of US troops to Eastern Europe earlier this month as tensions ramped up. The US has also closed its embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and relocated operations to Lviv due to the “dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces,” the State Department said on Monday.

Moscow said that it had withdrawn some troops and forces from the border with Ukraine, but the US has voiced its disbelief. “We have not yet verified that... Our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position,” President Joe Biden said on Tuesday.

Read more: Russia attack on Ukraine ‘still very much a possibility’: US President Biden

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