Disinfo: The war in Donbas is a civil war between Ukrainians


The international community must recognise the fact that there is a civil war in Ukraine and [it must] initiate a full arms embargo against the country [Ukraine] that is killing its own citizens.


The disinformation claim above is part of a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the war in Ukraine, aimed at whitewashing the Kremlin's involvement.

The Donbas war is not an internal conflict but a well-documented act of aggression by Russian armed forces, ongoing since February 2014.

There is irrefutable evidence of direct Russian military involvement in Eastern Ukraine. Russia is supporting its proxies (the so-called People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk) with weapons, its active-duty soldiers serve there and its top military commanders visit the war zone to coordinate joint efforts with the separatists.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated that Moscow will continue to support these territories. The systematic issuing of Russian passports to several hundred of thousands of persons 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.

The EU has condemned the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014. The European Union stated in July 2014 that "arms and fighters continue flowing into Ukraine from the Russian Federation".

According to the US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), Russian special forces and troops operated to mobilise, lead, equip, and support separatist militias in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine from spring 2014 to the present, although their presence was denied by Moscow.

The so-called People's Republics receive humanitarian, financial and military backing from Russia. An InformNapalm study shows that thirty-one weapons systems found in the Donbas region entered service with the Russian military between 2004 and 2015 and have never been produced in, or sold to, Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted Russia's military presence in Ukraine in 2015.

Denying Russia's involvement in the Donbas War is a frequent element of pro-Kremlin disinformation. Explore similar disinformation cases alleging that the conflict in Donbas is only internal, the Russian army is not a part of hostilities in Ukraine, that conflict in Ukraine is internal, Russia is not a party to it and that Ukraine is an integral part of the Russian World, only Russia can solve its domestic conflict.


  • Reported in: Issue 258
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 03/09/2021
  • Article language(s) Hungarian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Ukraine, Russia
  • Keywords: War in Ukraine, Eastern Ukraine, Civil war
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Disinfo: Ukraine's post-Maidan government came to power as a result of a coup d’état

Ukraine's post-Maidan government came to power as a result of a coup d’état.


A recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about Euromaidan portraying the 2013-14 Ukrainian revolution as a coup d'etat.

This narrative portrays the massive popular protests in Ukraine in 2013-2014 as a coup d’état orchestrated by the United States and/or other Western actors to overthrow the then pro-Russian government of Victor Yanukovich.

Disinfo: Political disagreements are behind the halt of the NATO-Russia Council

Political disagreements over Ukraine and the accession of Crimea to Russia led to the almost complete halt of meetings between Russia and the alliance (NATO) in the form of the “NATO-Russia Council”.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the illegal annexation of Crimea.

Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the ensuing war in Donbas are some of the main reasons behind the deterioration in NATO-Russian relations.

Disinfo: Poland declared a state of emergency after the appearance of 32 refugees on its border

Poland did not declare an emergency state in a situation of floods and the pandemic. However, the state of emergency was declared after the appearance of 32 refugees on the Belarusian-Polish border.


Recurring disinformation narrative about the ongoing migration crisis on the eastern border of the European Union directly caused by the Belarusian authorities.

On 2 September 2021, Poland declared a state of emergency in two regions bordering Belarus – this step is implemented in order to face the ongoing “migration crisis” orchestrated by Belarusian authorities. In August 2021, about 3500 irregular migrants attempted to enter the territory of Poland from Belarus.