US says new intel shows Russia plotting false flag attack

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is accusing the Kremlin of an elaborate plot to fabricate an attack by Ukrainian forces that Russia could use as a pretext to take military action against its neighbor.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby says the scheme includes production of a graphic propaganda video that would show staged explosions and would use corpses and actors depicting grieving mourners. The U.S. has not provided detailed information backing up the claims.

The plan for the fake attack on Russian territory or Russian-speaking people was described in declassified intelligence shared with Ukrainian officials and European allies in recent days.

It is the latest allegation by the U.S. and Britain that Russia is plotting to use a false pretext to go to war against Ukraine.

The new intelligence was unveiled during another day of diplomatic efforts to prevent the simmering tensions from boiling over into war.

After talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered to mediate between Kyiv and Moscow by hosting talks. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Zelenskyy.