Disinfo: Russia does not participate in the war in the Donbas and does not take prisoners


Russia does not capture Ukrainians, because the Russian military does not take part in hostilities in the Donbas. The Minsk agreements do not state that Russia is at war with somebody.


This is one of the most common disinformation narratives; that Russia has nothing to do with the war in eastern Ukraine and that there is a “civil war” in Donbas. Read more cases on this narrative here.

There is no exact data on the number of Ukrainians arrested by Russia in the occupied parts of Donbas and in the annexed Crimea. The problem is that Russia and the separatists do not recognise such people as prisoners and qualify their actions as crimes, for example, the now liberated Crimean Oleh Sentsov, who was accused by Russia of "preparing a terrorist act" and illegally sentenced to imprisonment.

According to the Security Service of Ukraine, 227 Ukrainians are still illegally detained in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In addition, another 113 people are illegally detained in Russia and the annexed Crimea, 89 of them are Crimean Tatars. Since 2014, 3,280 Ukrainians have been liberated from Russian prisons and from the occupied territories of Ukraine.


  • Reported in: Issue 168
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 06/10/2019
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: Repression, War crimes, Crimean Tatars, Donbas, Crimea


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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The USA persistently imposes confrontation with Russia on Europe

European countries, NATO members and neutral (countries) do not have a sovereign right to formulate their military policies and strategies in relations with Russia. If they still have some chance for manoeuvre in their foreign policy, in military policy they remain led by the US. The US persistently imposes confrontation with Russia on Europe.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about US presence in Europe, portraying Europe as a vassal of the USA and trying to undermine the sovereignty of the West. Russian disinformation sources like to claim that almost all European countries are no longer truly sovereign and the United States dictates policies to the EU and its member states.

The EU Member States are sovereign countries and make sovereign decisions about their own security and policies. Possible NATO/ US military presence and support in the EU Member States is possible only on the basis of the clear request/ consent of the hosting nation. The US is an important ally to the EU but EU policy is not determined by the US, as explained by the EU High Representative.

There is no evidence of the chemical attacks in Syria

Chemical weapon, sanctions, this and that, everything is staged. The last bloc of sanctions is a sort of comedy. They were imposed because Russia allegedly did not stand against the use of chemical weapons in Syria. But there is not a single piece of evidence of any chemical attacks in Syria. All these [proofs of the] chemical attacks, all these white helmets… failed.


A recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on the lack of proof of the chemical attacks in Syria, discrediting White Helmets and criticising sanctions against Russia.

The chemical weapon attacks in Syria were confirmed by the OPCW, the international organisation which conducts probes into all allegations of chemical weapons' use in Syria; its findings serve as the basis for publicly available reports and expert notes. See more details here.