The Russian Defense Ministry has published documents seized by the Russian military in Ukraine, namely the order of Colonel General Mykola Balan, commander of the National Guard. According to the order dated January 21, it was planned to launch an offensive operation in Donbass in March.
The head of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, immediately ordered an investigation into the circumstances of the preparation of the offensive, «to collect and record evidence and identify all persons involved in order to subsequently bring them to responsibility in accordance with the law.»
The order is authentic, the National Guard has admitted. But it has nothing to do with the offensive in Donbass. Ukrainian publication StopFake received a comment from a representative of the National Guard:
«This is a standard order to hold regular joint training exercises of the AFU and NGU in Starichi (Lviv region). Such orders are issued regularly every year. This document is about the organization of the training camp. <...>
This document has nothing to do with the planning of an offensive operation. Obviously, the plan for an offensive operation should provide for some specific objectives, which are absent from the document. This is not an order to march to a location within the Joint Forces Operation zone and then regroup for an offensive. This is an order to conduct combat training in the Lviv region!»
But especially curious is the context in which the offensive was allegedly planned. In January 2022, Russian troops continued to concentrate near the Ukrainian border and, in particular, near separatist-controlled territories. On January 7, The New York Times published a map based on satellite imagery of the location of troops near the border. According to estimates their number was nearly 100,000.
In other words, the Russian Defense Ministry claims an offensive operation against the separatists was planned when tens of thousands of Russian soldiers and a large amount of equipment were positioned near the border not controlled by Ukraine. At the same time, as early as December 28, 2021 Konstantin Kosachev, vice speaker of the Federation Council, stated in his interview to Interfax that «Russia does not intend to initiate a military operation against Ukraine, but has the right to promptly use its armed forces to protect Russian citizens abroad in case they are attacked». As is well known, Russia has been distributing its passports en masse to residents of the separatist regions. Who could plan an attack knowing that superior enemy forces would inevitably come to the aid of the separatists?
But the version about the March offensive fits in well with a number of other «findings.» On March 6, TASS published a report titled «Pushilin says the AFU were preparing an offensive in Donbass and Crimea for March 8.»
«Ukraine was preparing for an offensive against the Donbass republics and Russia's Crimea, the start of the operation was scheduled for March 8, Denis Pushilin, head of the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), said on Sunday.
«According to our intelligence and the testimony of Ukrainian POWs, the offensive operation was to begin on March 8,» the DNR head said in his Telegram channel. «The facts indicate that a simultaneous invasion of both the Donbass republics and the Russian Federation, i.e. Crimea, was planned. Today journalists were presented with evidence of the aggressive plans of the Ukrainian regime and those behind it,» he added.
«During the liberation operation People's Militia of the DNR found a laptop with a license number registered to NATO in the headquarters of the 'Right Sector' (banned in Russia, comment by TASS) near the settlement of Berdyanskoye,» said Pushilin. The laptop's storage memory contains maps of Donbass and Crimea», he added. According to Pushilin, this shows that Ukrainian armed formations did not intend to limit themselves to a forceful seizure of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics.
Pushilin called the map of Crimea found in the memory of the laptop one of the proofs of Kiev's aggressive intentions. «It shows, marked in red, the supposed locations of Russian army units. Points of entry and advancement of Ukrainian armed formations are marked in blue. The invasion was planned from the land and sea,» said the head of the DNR. According to him, the laptop found in the Right Sector headquarters contains a detailed map of the area showing the locations of our units and other military facilities, which were spotted from drones, particularly American ones.»
What Pushilin meant by «the laptop's license number» is difficult to understand; it is probably the license number of the operating system or some of the programs installed on the computer. But Pushilin somehow knows exactly what numbers are «registered to NATO», a truly impressive feat on the part of DNR's intelligence, such information being as difficult to obtain as it is useless.
On February 19, the DNR People's Militia Telegram channel published a «plan of the Ukrainian Armed Forces' offensive in Donbass,» complete with a map of anticipated military operations.
As we can see, the map is in Russian, and the same font is used for the country names: Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the Donetsk People's Republic, the Lugansk People's Republic. It means that the «attack strategists» actually recognized the independence of the «people's republics».