CNN’s “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper wasn’t having any of National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan during a Sunday interview discussing the pending Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Specifically, Tapper questioned the U.S. government’s claims regarding the possibility of a false flag operation, which he said were made “without presenting a shred of evidence” to support them.
“We’re not putting forward this intelligence to start a war, which has happened in the past. We are putting forward this intelligence to stop a war.”
— National Sec. Advisor Jake Sullivan on credibility of intelligence about Russian “false flag” plan to justify Ukraine attack.
— The Recount
Tapper opened his show by noting that for weeks the Biden administration has been claiming that Russia could likely attack Ukraine at any time, even to the point of drawing a rebuke from the Ukrainian government in Kyiv to dial back the rhetoric:
“I’m Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is bracing for potential war in Europe. The White House warning in stark terms this weekend that Russia is poised to invade Ukraine any day now, a senior administration official saying yesterday that military action that will cause damage is a distinct possibility, as Russian forces with heavy-duty military equipment close in on Ukraine’s borders, President Biden warned Russia’s President Vladimir Putin of ‘swift and severe costs’ if he chooses to invade. The call did little to convince the White House that Russia will not attack,” Tapper began.
“Those fears have led the U.S. and a growing list of other nations to urge citizens to leave Ukraine almost immediately as the U.S. evacuates staff at its embassy in Kyiv,” Tapper continued.
“Part of the warning is an extraordinary public declaration that they believe Russia may use a false flag operation to justify bombings and missile attacks in Ukraine. That Russia would stage a fake attack on themselves to justify an invasion that could ultimately kill tens of thousands and destabilize key American and European allies in what Biden says would be the largest envision in World War II on that continent.”
The host then brought on Sullivan and asked him how he saw the situation playing out over the next several days.
“Well, Jake, we cannot perfectly predict the day, but we have been saying for some time that we are in the window and an invasion could begin, a major military action could begin by Russia in Ukraine any day now,” Sullivan replied, adding that some expected a move toward the end of the Beijing Olympic Games but an attack before the Olympics were over was also a possibility.
“You’ve been warning about the Russians using a false flag operation to justify invading Ukraine. That’s a strong claim to make without a shred of evidence,” Tapper pressed, adding that if the Biden administration would not present credible evidence it will be difficult to convince a skeptical American public.
Sullivan pushed back by saying that Americans should accept the information as credible because, in part, the administration was putting it forward to stop a conflict.
“I think that fundamentally gives it at the outset a different level of credibility. Secondly, this is consistent with the Russian playbook,” Sullivan continued. “We have seen them do this before many times.
“You asked any Russia expert, they will point to examples of where Russia has used false flag operations as pretext to start military action,” he said.