Russia's moves around Ukraine show 'bleak' prospects for avoiding war: intelligence experts
Annual Direct Line with Vladimir Putin in Moscow - Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual "Direct Line with Vladimir Putin" live call-in show. - -/Kremlin/dpa

On Friday, CNN reported that while the forecasts of Russia beginning its invasion of Ukraine this week do not appear to have materialized, intelligence experts are still warning the outlook is still dangerous as Russian forces continue to surround the rebel-controlled areas and make preparations for war.

"The assessment — described as 'bleak' by the senior official — indicates Russia could attack in the coming days. The US still expects any Russian invasion to be prefaced by a false flag operation, another US official said," reported Jim Sciutto and Natasha Bertrand. "However, US officials caution they do not know if Putin has made a final decision to invade and note he may delay action or not order it at all. Earlier assessments forecasting military action by Russia this week did not bear out. The US has briefed the Ukrainian military on the newest assessment, according to a senior US official and a senior Ukrainian government official."

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"The US also remains concerned that Russia may attempt to create a false pretext for invasion by staging attacks on its own territory or forces which it would blame on Ukraine or the West," continued the report. "Secretary of State Antony Blinken laid out the range of potential scenarios before the US Security Council Thursday. 'Russia may describe this event as ethnic cleansing or a genocide, making a mockery of a concept that we in this chamber do not take lightly,' Blinken said."

This comes after U.S. officials have accused Russia of lying when they claimed to have pulled back some forces from Ukraine. Previous intelligence also indicated Russia was considering the release of a "very graphic" fake propaganda video of a Ukrainian attack on Russian soil, complete with fake corpses and mourners, as a pretext for invasion.