BERLIN — A Russian newspaper claims to have an official government strategy document outlining the invasion of Ukraine that was prepared weeks before the Ukrainian government collapsed last year.
The editor of Novaya Gazeta, Dmitri Muratov, reported the document during an interview with Echo of Moscow, a radio station. In the interview, he did not reveal how the newspaper came into possession of the document in the media-unfriendly Russian world, but said he had confidence it was authentic.
Novaya Gazeta is considered a rarity in Russia these days, an independent investigative newspaper that’s known to anger the Kremlin regularly. The editor said the paper’s plan is to publish the full details of the strategy document next week.
Muratov said the document characterized Viktor Yanukovych, who was then the Ukrainian president, as “a person without morals and willpower whose downfall must be expected at any moment.” Yanukovych fled Ukraine for Russia on Feb. 22, 2014.
Muratov said the Russian document appears to have been drafted between Feb. 4 and Feb. 15 last year. He said the overall strategy included plans on how to break Ukraine into automonmous sectors, immediately attaching southeastern Ukraine to Moscow’s tax union, with a longer-term plan for annexation.
The plan suggested “the main thrust should be Crimea and the Kharkhiv region, with the aim of initiating the annexation of the eastern regions.”
The strategy document also calls for a public relations campaign to justify Russia’s intervention. The newspaper did not release further details of the strategy.
Muratov said that the strategy paper contradicts the Kremlin’s claim that it annexed Crimea as a reaction to residents there feeling threatened by Ukrainian nationalists in Kiev. If authentic, the strategy document also would appear to have outlined the precise course of the pro-Russian separatist rebellion in the Donbas, which includes two regions, Donetsk and Luhansk.
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