The Russian government media published a series of documents designed to prove Ukraine was planning an invasion of Donbas in March. The narrative was launched with a view to justifying Russia’s military operations against Ukraine.
NEWS: “The Russian army has obtained documents of the Ukrainian National Guard, which prove the fact the Kyiv was preparing an offensive operation in Donbas in March, the official representative of Russian Ministry of Defense, Major-General Igor Konashenkov has announced. […]
The question of the involvement of the USA and NATO in this operation in Ukraine regarding a possible invasion of Donbas is still being analyzed, Konashenkov said. Still, it is common knowledge that American and British instructors have drilled NATO standards into the mind of Ukrainian soldiers in some combat units. […]
According to data provided by Moscow, the Ukrainian side had almost finished preparations for the attack on Donbas scheduled for February 28, but Russia’s special operation averted their plans”.
NARRATIVE: Kyiv was preparing a military aggression in Donbas in March, which forced Russia to intervene in Ukraine.
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: Documents published on the Telegram account of RIA Novosti, as well as on the webpages of Kremlin-linked media say nothing about an attack planned against the rebel-controlled Donbas, but merely present the process of military mobilization of the Joint Forces Operation. The order in which snapshots of pages in the allegedly confidential documents are presented is suspicious: the description of the Joint Forces Operation, which was deployed in Donbass starting 2014, is presented in association with other documents taken out of context and of questionable authenticity. The final order, quoted by RIA Novosti, is not even signed by the Ukrainian general Mykola Balan. It is unclear if the document is a draft order of if it’s fake. The last page in the document contains a number of grammar errors, linguistic discontinuities or paragraphs that are unrelated to the logic of a document signaling the preparation of a military attack.
On several occasions, Ukrainian officials have dismissed information carried by the Russian media regarding Ukraine’s preparations for an attack on Donbas. Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said Ukraine never intended to attack or launch a war on Donbas or Crimea, because it is very mindful of the lives of civilians, unlike Russia, which attacked civilian targets: kindergartens, schools, etc.
A long time ago, Russia launched a number of narratives about Kyiv’s alleged aggressions: one such narrative, debunked by Veridica, claims that Ukraine is preparing to massacre civilians in Donbas. In turn, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, justified the invasion as a precaution to a possible war breaking out on Ukraine’s territory, a statement that is part of Russia’s metanarratives about the situation in Ukraine.
Moreover, Ukrainian military analysts have always been aware of Russia’s disproportionate military superiority as well as of its nuclear arsenal. Kyiv knew an attack on Donbas would immediately prompt a swift military response from Russia. Evidence of that can be found in Vladimir Putin’s reference to the safety of the separatist republics as a reason to invade Ukraine.