May the expulsion of the Russian diplomats [from Czechia] be connected to the construction of a new energy block at the Dukovany Nuclear Power Plant? The [Czech] opposition and secret services stand against the participation of the Russian company “Rosatom” in this tender. This situation is an attempt to kill two birds with one stone, discrediting both the supplier of the Sputnik V vaccine and the “Rosatom”. That is why the anti-Russian campaign is being revived in order to reach these goals. Such developments as the Skripal poisoning and the Malaysian Boeing have one thing in common – neither of them was investigated and the sanctions were introduced with the violation of all principles of the civilized world. Unfortunately, we have become a part of a barbaric world.
There is fear of a purge in Donbas. Those nationalist and radical factions, some of them even carrying Nazi symbology, can sweep the area during an operation, where many of the people have obtained the Russian citizenship, and maybe this can be the bait to provoke Moscow and to enter in the field. Ukraine is a country being dragged by radicalisation, which may lead its soldiers to seek this purge and revenge against their brothers in Donbas.
This is a mix of several recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives against Ukraine in the context of an escalation of tensions in Donbas, to justify Russia’s military buildup in the border.
While senior Kremlin officials Dmitry Kozak and Dmitry Peskov have publicly warned about an upcoming ethnic cleansing akin to the Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnia war in 1995, there is zero evidence of preparations for such a massacre. Reports by the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and the OHCHR found no evidence that the Russian minority in Eastern Ukraine was at risk of persecution by the Ukrainian authorities. These are bodies where Russia itself is a member.
Ever since the conflict broke out in 2014, pro-Kremlin coverage of this issue has been characterised by the liberal use of the term "genocide," taken to mean the Ukrainian government's alleged treatment of the separatist areas in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. The recent dramatic increase in Russian state media and pro-Kremlin outlets' bellicose rhetoric seems indented to create a casus belli for renewed military offensives against Ukraine. One such element is to de-humanise the opponent, in this case the Ukrainian authorities. The accusation of Nazi affiliation is a frequent disinformation technique used by pro-Kremlin media aiming to discredit its rivals, in this case to frame the Ukrainian troops as prone to commit atrocities.
The systematic issuing of Russian passports to citizens in the two entities is now also used as a pretext to claim the right to influence and perhaps intervene militarily. Russia is also reported to be using the occupied territories as a testing ground for new weapons. Despite all this Russia officially denies its military presence in Donbas.
Since end of March / early April 2021, Russia has started sending troops to the Ukrainian border and increased bellicose language in key Russian state media. The EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, has expressed 'severe concern' over Russian military activity near Ukraine's border.
See also the Statement of 12 April 2021 by the G7 Foreign Ministers and the EU High Representative here. It addresses the "large-scale troop movements, without prior notification, represent threatening and destabilising activities. We call on Russia to cease its provocations and to immediately de-escalate tensions in line with its international obligations."
See other examples in our database, such as the claims that by provoking Russia, Ukraine fills the role assigned by NATO, that the US may be sending Ukraine to a meat grinder in Donbas, that Ukraine intends to commit genocide in Donbas, or that by accusing Russia of playing a role in Donbas, Ukraine has renounced the Minsk agreements.
This disinformation message appeared in the same TV programme as the claims that “Joe Biden has senile dementia and is a puppet of the Obamas and the Clintons”, that “Russia is not directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine, which was the result of a Western coup” and that “Ukraine is violating the Minsk agreements and the West prefers to ignore it”.