Ukrainian President Zelensky Has Accused Russia of “False-Flag Attacks”—What Does That Mean?

From a Wall Street Journal column by Ben Zimmer headlined “‘False Flag’: Flying Colors Designed For Deception”:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of numerous “false-flag attacks,” most recently regarding explosions in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria. Western observers backed up the claims, with the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War concluding that “Russian forces likely conducted a false-flag attack in Transnistria…to amplify Russian claims of anti-Russian sentiment in Moldova.”

Russia, meanwhile, has made its own accusations against Ukraine of “false-flag operations,” which Mr. Zelensky has asserted are a projection of Moscow’s own intentions. “If you want to know what Russia’s plans are,” he has said, “look at what Russia accuses others of.”