Ukraine-Russia tensions: What is 'false flag'?

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Jan 15, 2022, 01:11 PM(IST)

Russian service members in tactical combat exercises in Rostov region, Russia Photograph:( Reuters )

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There are numerous examples throughout history of armymen stealing uniforms from their enemy to take part in covert operations

Amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine, the US accused Russia of creating a "false flag" scenario.

"They have pre-positioned a group of operatives to conduct what we call a 'false flag operation'," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

What is a "False Flag"?

A "false flag" scenario occurs when a group deliberately misrepresents affiliation and hides its true identity. It is used widely during war and covert operations.

It is a deceptive move undertaken by a country or an organisation to set up an attack. Pirate ships often used "false flags" of nations to deceive merchant ships while undertaking an attack under a "false flag".

There are numerous examples throughout history of armymen stealing uniforms from their enemy to take part in covert operations in order to carry out a clandestine military campaign. The "false flag" tactic is also used to sometimes start a war.

In the latest "false flag" claim the US accused Russia of fabricating an attack on itself or on Russian-speaking Ukrainians by a group of operatives to make a false claim of an attack by Ukraine. 

"False Flag" operations:

CIA had reportedly carried a false flag operation in 1953 against Iran's former PM Mohammad Mosaddeq in order to successfully launch operation TPAJAX as it conducted bombing campaigns which were blamed on communist sympathisers. A declassified report claimed Britain's MI6 and the CIA jointly undertook the operations. 

“Operation Northwoods” is another example of a "false flag" operation proposed by US intelligence in 1962 to justify military action against Cuba. 

The US Department of Defence planned to stage "terrorist" acts against American military and civilian installations and blame it on Fidel Castro's regime. The proposal was however rejected by former President Kennedy.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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