The Biden administration believes that Russia will threaten to kill the families of Ukrainian soldiers if they do not surrender, a US official said on Friday amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Our information also indicates that Russia plans to threaten killing the family members of Ukrainian soldiers if they do not surrender,” the official said, who also commended the “incredible bravery” that the Ukrainians showed in the first day of fighting.
The State Department did not immediately respond when asked why the US believes that this is what the Russians will do.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has recently warned of the possibility of widespread human rights abuses against the Ukrainian people carried out by Russia.
“All evidence suggests that Russia intends to encircle and threaten Kyiv, and we believe Moscow has developed plans to inflict widespread human rights abuses – and potentially worse – on the Ukrainian people,” he said on Thursday.
Ukraine’s foreign minister echoed US concerns about the possibility of forthcoming human rights abuses on Friday. Citing intelligence, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said there could be Russian false flag operations that would erroneously cast the Ukrainians as the aggressors.
“According to intelligence, Russia plans a massive false flag operation to ‘dehumanize’ Ukrainians and accuse Ukraine of alleged inhuman actions. Don’t trust fakes. Ukraine defends its land in a just and defensive war. Unlike Russia, we don’t target kindergartens and civilians,” Kuleba tweeted.
The US official also said the Kremlin is carrying out a disinformation campaign to suggest a large number of Ukrainian troops have already surrendered to Russian forces.
“We commend the Ukrainian people for showing strength and determination in response to an unprovoked attack by a significantly larger military,” the official said, adding “We are concerned, however, that Russia plans to discourage them and induce surrender through disinformation. Our information indicates Russia is creating a disinformation campaign by publicizing false reports about the widespread surrender of Ukrainian troops.”
On Thursday President Volodymyr Zelensky said that 137 people were killed during the first day of Russia’s invasion, but he said that they died a “heroic death” and that they did not surrender.