Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the independence of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR).
The so-called People's republics receive humanitarian, financial and military backing from Russia. A Ukrainian hacker group called “Cyber Hunta” released a cache of emails linked to the Kremlin aide — Vladislav Surkov. The so-called "Surkov Leaks" show a list of candidates for the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, including the Speaker of the People’s Soviet (Pushilin), Ministry of Defense (Igor “Strelkov” Girkin), and other key officials with remarks “checked by us” and “especially recommended”. Surkov's emails also contain a DPR expense list, include proposals for Ukrainian locals to conduct cyber-attacks and email hacks for $100-$300 or “troll opponents” on social media and gather personal data of Kharkiv citizens for $130-$500. The authenticity of the leaked emails was confirmed.
Moreover, the German newspaper Bild showed the extent to which Russia finances the Donbas republics. The article estimates that Russia spends approximately €79.1 million per month to pay salaries in the DPR/LPR.
Also, the Donbas republics receive military support from Russia. An InformNapalm study shows that thirty-one weapons systems found in the Donbas entered service with the Russian military between 2004 and 2015 and have never been produced in or sold to Ukraine.
The European Union stated in July 2014 that "arms and fighters continue flowing into Ukraine from the Russian Federation".
Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted military presence of Russia in Ukraine in 2015.