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AP reporter berates State Dept. spox on claim that Russians planned false flag operation in order to invade Ukraine

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Photo by KEVIN LAMARQUE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Associated Press reporter Mike Lee berated State Department spokesperson Ned Price over a report that the Russians were planning a false flag operation in order to justify an invasion of Ukraine.

The report claimed that the Russians were planning to fake a mass attack on Russian-speaking people in Ukraine in order to give them a pretext to invade and retake the country.

"One possible option the Russians are considering, and which we made public today, involves the production of a propaganda video, a video with graphic scenes of false explosions, depicting corpses, crisis actors pretending to be mourners, and images of destroyed locations or military equipment, entirely fabricated by Russian intelligence," said Price at the media briefing Thursday.

"To be clear, the production of this video is one of a number of options that the Russian government is developing as a fake pretext to initiate and potentially justify military action against Ukraine," he added.

Lee and other reporters pressed Price to produce evidence of the claims against Russia beyond the word of the State Department.

"It is an action that you say that they have taken, but you have shown no evidence to confirm that," said Lee. "What is the evidence that they've planned, I mean, this is like, crisis actors? Really? This is like Alex Jones territory that you're getting into now. What evidence do you have to support the idea that there is some propaganda film in the making?"

"Matt this is derived from information known to the U.S. government, intelligence information that we have declassified," responded Price.

"Well OK? Where is it? Where is this information?" interjected Lee.

"It is intelligence information that we have declassified," Price said.

"Well where is it, where is the declassified information?" Lee asked.

"I just delivered it," Price laughed.

"No, you made a series of allegations and statements," replied Lee. "That's not evidence, that's you saying it, that's not evidence, I'm sorry."

The situation devolved into a yelling match about whether Price's statements should be constituted as evidence of the accusations made against Russia. Price later fired back that Lee was more willing to trust Russia than the U.S. and its allies.

"If you doubt the credibility of the U.S. government, of the British government, of other governments and want to, you know, find solace in information that the Russians are putting out, that is for you to do," said Price.

Other reporters then pressed Price in the same way Lee did.

"The facts that we are able to go into such great detail, obviously I am not going to spell out what is in our possession, but I will leave, I will leave it to your judgement," said Price to another reporter.

"There are no facts that you've spelled out!" interjected Lee.

"We are making clear what we know so that in the event it does take place, it will be clear to the world what this actually was and what it was not," explained Price later on.

Price tweeted about the heated exchange and praised Lee despite their disagreement.

"Clearly, he’s no one’s dupe, and I’d never want to suggest otherwise. Nothing but respect for him, which I underscored in a call to him after the briefing," tweeted Price.

Russia has amassed more than a hundred thousand troops outside of the border of Ukraine, sparking fears of a military invasion with the intent reconquer the country that was once part of the former Soviet empire.

President Joe Biden has more than once intimated that he believes an invasion is imminent. The statements have elicited bitter recriminations from Ukraine officials who have warned him against spreading rumor and panic.

Here's the video of Lee berating Price:

Heated Exchange Between State Dept. & Media on Evidence Russia Fabricating Attacks by Ukraine www.youtube.com

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