Disinfo: Russia sent troops to the Ukrainian border because there was danger for the Russian population in Donbas


Some months ago, tensions on the Ukrainian-Russian border were so high that there was talk of a major war between both countries, though fortunately a bigger escalation could be avoided. Those days, the concentration of Ukrainian troops on the border was one of the highest in history. Russia also sent its units to the border because there was a direct danger both to the security of Russia and to the self-proclaimed Donbas republics, where many Russian citizens live. Moscow doesn’t participate directly in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, but it could have intervened to protect the Russian population in this area. Moscow reserves itself this right to this day.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the alleged dangers posed by the Ukrainian army for the Russian population in Donbas. The goal of this narrative is to deflect any Russian responsibility for the escalation in Donbas in March/April 2021, after Moscow-backed separatists mounted tensions for several weeks under the pretext that Ukrainian troops were planning an offensive, a situation that culminated in a massive deployment of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border.

Russia is seen by the international community as responsible for this escalation: on 12 April 2021, the G7 Foreign Ministers and the EU High Representative stated that "these large-scale troop movements, without prior notification, represent threatening and destabilising activities”. On 22 April 2021, Russia started withdrawing its troops from the Ukrainian border. However, this didn't stop clashes in Donbas, and 80.000 Russian troops and significant parts of the Russian military equipment remain in the region.

The claim that Moscow doesn’t participate directly in the Donbas conflict is false, as there is irrefutable evidence of direct Russian military involvement in Eastern Ukraine. 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.

See other examples of similar disinformation narratives 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 article as the claims that “The West needs a war at Russia’s borders and exploits Ukraine’s anti-Russian activities”, that “If Ukraine joins NATO, it will be forced to send soldiers to the alliance’s missions abroad”, and that “Kyiv’s desire to join NATO jeopardise the existence of Ukraine as an independent state due to its submission to the West”.


  • Reported in: Issue 249
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 11/06/2021
  • Article language(s) Spanish
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Ukraine, Russia
  • Keywords: Military, ethnic tension, War in Ukraine
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