This image taken from a video shows a destroyed barracks at a prison in Olenivka, in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces, in eastern Ukraine on July 29. (AP/FILE)
The United States believes Russia plans to falsify evidence to incriminate Ukrainian armed forces for the July 29 Olenivka prison attack, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby confirmed.
“We anticipate that Russian officials will attempt to frame the Armed Forces of Ukraine in anticipation of journalists and potential investigators visiting the site of the attack. Indeed, we have already seen some false press reports to that effect, where they have planted evidence. We have reason to believe that Russia would go so far as to make it appear that Ukraine’s HIMARS — the advanced high-mobility rocket systems that have been in the news so much lately — were to blame. And to do so before the reporters arrived at the site, and again, we’re even starting to see some press reports along those lines,” Kirby told CNN’s Jeremy Diamond when asked more about the reported plan to falsify evidence.
CNN reported Wednesday that the White House believes Russia will falsify evidence before third-party prison visits.
On the arrest of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Kirby explained more about what US President Joe Biden has been up to.
“When I say personally involved, I mean, he’s in constant contact with all the members of his team who are working on Brittney’s case and it’s not just Secretary of State Blinken. [It’s] Jake Sullivan, the presidential special envoy for hostage matters, Deputy National Security Adviser Josh Geltzer. I mean there’s a lot of people involved here and they’re driving a process of continuous updates that you can get from your team. He’s providing guidance to them as needed,” Kirby told CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, adding, “You’ve seen that he’s talked to Ms. Griner herself, and I would certainly expect him to continue to have those kinds of conversations in the future . He stays focused on that.”
Asked by CNN’s Diamond if Biden would be willing to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin about Griner’s case, he said they had no calls to read or preview.
And about the decision to go public with the deal, Kirby said, “Can we say that going public had a direct line to bring them home? Not yet, but we hope it will. We hope it will. We feel, we felt it. it was important to make sure the American people knew, but also people around the world, how seriously we were taking these two cases. And that, so seriously, in fact, that we had made a proposal that we think the Russians should accept and you’ll notice that the day after we did that the Russians started talking, even in public. So I’ll leave it at that.”
And asked about CNN’s report that the Department of Homeland Security will stop wiping the mobile devices of high-level officials and political appointees without first backing them up, Kirby declined to comment further.