In recent months, high-ranking Western officials and the media have been making almost daily warnings that Russia is planning an invasion of Ukraine, but no actual evidence to back up these claims has ever emerged.
These claims are part of an ongoing disinformation campaign about Russia’s military build-up on the border with Ukraine. By claiming that outside forces are the driving force behind the escalation of tensions, this disinformation story aims to deny any Russian responsibility for the situation.
These tensions are a result of Russia’s actions since late October 2021, including the deployment of more than 150,000 troops, as well as of certain specialised military units, electronic warfare systems and heavy-armoured vehicles. Despite Russian denials, this has been proven by satellite images and intelligence from the US, Ukraine and NATO, among other countries and institutions.
In the months preceding February 2022, Western government officials and intelligence agencies had been repeatedly warning that the Kremlin was planning a multi-front offensive against Ukraine involving up to 175,000 troops. It had been also estimated that 40% to 50% of the 150,000 Russian troops deployed in the vicinity of the Ukrainian border were in attack positions.
"We have reason to believe that they are engaged in a false-flag operation to have an excuse to go in," US President Biden told reporters on 18 February. "Every indication we have is they are prepared to go into Ukraine, attack Ukraine."
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said that according to intelligence reports, evidence suggests Russia is planning "the biggest war in Europe since 1945".
About ten days after this article was published, on 24 February 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on multiple fronts, as footage, foreign correspondents, social media, local journalists and citizen witnesses had proven beyond any doubt. This, as said by Boris Johnson, did start the biggest war in Europe since 1945.
Read more about the common myths surrounding the current Russia-Ukraine conflict in our analysis here.