The report this week that the government spoiled Russia’s plan to stage a false flag operation as a pretext for invading Ukraine led to some sharp questions for State Department spokesman Ned Price.
Price said at a press briefing on Thursday that Russia may be considering producing a video of a staged attack including explosions, fake corpses, destroyed locations and equipment, and crisis actors. He said that it is believed that the Russian government would use such a fake video as an excuse to attack Ukraine.
Associated Press reporter Mike Lee and some other journalists at the briefing asked Price if the government had any evidence of the claim other than just the word of the State Department. Lee told Price that he was getting into “Alex Jones territory” without specific proof of a propaganda production effort by the Russians.
Price answered by saying the report is based on declassified information. Lee interjected by asking where the information could be found. After laughing and claiming that he “just delivered it,” Price told Lee that he was only making conclusory assertions, which are not evidence.
After further discussion in raised voices, Price told Lee curtly that he appears to be “more willing to trust Russia” than the United States.
Price said Lee could “find solace” in Russian information if he chooses to.
Later, as Price said to another reporter that he would not go “into great detail” about spelling out what is in the government’s possession, Lee interjected that “there are no facts that you have spelled out!”
Price finally conceded that the government did not intend to share any evidence of the claim, saying that the State Department was only making clear what they said they knew if a false Russian video is later released.
Price posted a tweet after the briefing saying that Lee is “no one’s dupe.” He added that he called Lee after the briefing and had “nothing but respect” for him.
Russia has placed over 100,000 troops and substantial equipment and supplies along its border with Ukraine in recent months. Joe Biden has repeatedly indicated that the US military believes Ukraine’s Russian invasion and has put several thousand American troops on alert through Eastern Europe. Ukrainian officials have warned the President against making public statements that can lead to panic in their country.