Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming that Ukraine is performing subversive activities in Donbas with the support of the US and NATO and provoking Russia and the Moscow-backed separatists into action in order to present Russia as an aggressor.
In reality, Russia is amassing its troop buildup along Ukraine’s border and the anti-Ukrainian separatists are increasing gunfire in Donbas to supposedly prompt Ukraine into backfire, get a casus belli and stage a large-scale attack. It appears that Russia seeks in Ukraine not peace but a frozen conflict similar to the one between Moldova and its breakaway region of Transnistria.
The systematic issuing of Russian passports to citizens in Donetsk and Luhansk, (to more than 400.000 persons by April 2021) 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 and accuses the West of encouraging Ukraine to start a military conflict with Russia.
Kyiv’s military preparations in and around Donbas are purely defensive and aimed at repelling a possible Russian attack. A NATO delegation has recently visited Ukraine to discuss, among other things, mutual cooperation, but not plans for a Ukrainian offensive. Kyiv’s stance on the recent developments is that its troops are not going to attack the enemy unless there is a threat or attack by the enemy.
The US has supported Ukraine, demanding that Russia put an end to its military build-up close to the Ukrainian borders. In a telephone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on 2 April, his US counterpart Joe Biden “affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea." This does not mean that Washington is supporting Kyiv for war or ordering it to launch an offensive.
The disinformation narrative also aims to present the Russo-Georgian war in 2008 as "Georgian aggression" and the Western-backed provocation against Russia.
In fact, the EU's independent investigative commission into the 2008 Russia-Georgian war confirmed that Russia had been provoking Georgia for a long time and "Much of the Russian military action went far beyond the reasonable limits of defence."
Currently, Russia occupies 20% of Georgia's territory, about 13 years after the Russo-Georgian War, and continues to breach its international obligations by consolidating its control in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
According to the EU, Russian military presence in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia continues in violation of international law and commitments undertaken by Russia under the 12 August 2008 agreement.