Disinfo: The Ukrainian authorities would burn Donbas residents at the stake if it were acceptable


The Ukrainian army and authorities purposefully make the lives of Donbas residents unbearable. For instance, the army destroys water towers and power-relay stations.

Kyiv hates that Moscow has offered Russian citizenship to residents of the unrecognised Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. The Ukrainian authorities want the residents of these territories to suffer and their children to hide underground. Kyiv created the conditions for Donbas residents to die in torment from shelling, hunger, cold, and infections. However, they were saved by Russian humanitarian assistance.

In reality, Ukrainian authorities are only interested in the residents of Donbas as subjects of repression and judicial processes with charges of treason. If it were acceptable to burn them at the stake, the Ukrainian authorities would do it.



This case is an extreme variation of typical pro-Kremlin disinformation messages about Ukraine's alleged aggression and intimidation, particularly against Russian speakers living within its borders. It presents completely speculative and unfounded claims about Kyiv's policies concerning the Donetsk and Luhansk territories in order to discredit the Ukrainian authorities and army. There is no evidence that Kyiv is pursuing the harmful and violent policies against civilians described in the article.

The article turns the history of the Donbas conflict upside down, claiming that Russia is providing humanitarian assistance, when in fact Russia is responsible for the military conflict in the first place. Ukraine has repeatedly provided evidence of Russia's role in the war in the east of the country. In January 2017, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that Kyiv filed a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice of the United Nations with the aim of bringing Russia to account for committing acts of terrorism and discrimination, which are the result of its illegal aggression against Ukraine. The lawsuit contains all the facts of Russian aggression against Ukraine, evidence of the illegal annexation of the Crimea, and the occupation of Donbas.

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.

Other examples of disinformation cases alleging discrimination against Donbas residents include claims about cut off water supplies to Luhansk and the prevention of Donbas residents from voting in the presidential elections.



  • Reported in: Issue 154
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 12/05/2019
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: Russian expansionism, Ukrainian disintegration, Donbas, Conspiracy, Ukrainian statehood
  • Outlet: Fond Strategicheskoy Kultury
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DNR and LNR gained independence from Ukraine

The DNR and LNR gained independence from Ukraine and are now fighting a civil war against the Ukrainian armed forces controlled by Kyiv, which are supported by the West.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the war in Ukraine.

Donetsk and Luhansk are part of Ukraine and controlled by Russia-backed armed formations. Not a single country has recognised them as independent. The war in Ukraine was provoked by Russia - it is not a civil war.

Rumours about Russian military presence in Donbas come from linguistic misunderstanding

When rural men from Western Ukraine were sent by the Ukrainian authorities to Donbas to take part in a military operation, they found themselves in a completely different territory with Russian as a dominant language. Hence most of them really believed that they fight with Russians, i.e. with Russia. Moreover, in contrast to Russian language with different words for the Russian language (‘Russkiy’) and for the concepts that have relation to Russia (‘rossiyskiy’), in Ukrainian the same word ‘rosiys’kyy’ is used. Hence it followed for the military men from Western Ukraine that Russian speakers are Russians. As a result, until nowadays many believe that Russian soldiers are present in Donbas.


This narrative claims the war in Ukraine is a civil war and Russia has nothing to do with it. In reality this message is a conspiracy consistent with common pro-Kremlin disinformation about the war in Ukraine. It disregards a multitude of factual evidence of Russian military presence in Donbas. Consult the evidence database and publications with further evidence here and here.

It was Russia that provoked a war in Ukraine, and it is not a civil war.

A coup d’état occurred in Ukraine in 2013-2014

A coup d’état took place in Kyiv in 2013-2014, supported by the West.


There was no coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014, this is a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the Euromaidan protests.

The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was an organic reaction by numerous parts of the Ukrainian population to former President Yanukovych’s sudden departure from the promised Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013. See the full debunk of this disinformation claim here.