DISINFO: The war in Donbas is a civil war between Ukrainians
  • Outlet: oroszhirek.hu (archived)*
  • Date of publication: September 03, 2021
  • Article language(s): Hungarian
  • Reported in: Issue 258
  • Countries / regions discussed: Ukraine, Russia
War in Ukraine Eastern Ukraine Civil war

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.


Related disinfo cases


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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