"Moscow planned to annex parts of Ukraine"
Moscow "has been planning to annex parts of Ukraine for more than 12 months," according to the Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta.Source: B92
Britain's Independent carried a report on its website saying the claims made by the paper were "sensational and extraordinary," and translated into English by the Ukrainian media outlet Kyiv Post.
According to the "bombshell document" Novaya Gazeta said it received, "Putin's office put together a 'step-by-step' guide to taking Crimea and other eastern Ukrainian provinces more than a year ago," before President Viktor Yanukovych was forced to leave office and the fighting broke out in eastern Ukraine.
The Independent said that "according to a document allegedly leaked" by the Russian newspaper, "Russia identified Yanukovych as politically bankrupt, and outlined a plan by which a coup would set in motion events ultimately leading to Russian expansion."
The British website describes the Russian daily as "one of the last independent media outlets in the country and was recently nominated for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize for its investigations," and notes that its claims "could not be independently verified."
"Novaya Gazeta reported in its introduction that the events that have followed in the past year in Ukraine resemble with a great deal of correlation the step-by-step the basis, political and PR logistics of Russia's interference into Ukrainian affairs and estrangement from Ukraine of Crimea and eastern provinces," said the article.
Among the highlighted details of the plan are “a pejorative assessment of Yanukovych, whom Russia later presented as a victim of a coup and the only legitimate leader of Ukraine," the British website quoted the paper, and adding that the document "details the eastern, cross-border regions of Donbas and Dnepr, among others, as euroregions that are legitimate from the point of view of the European Union."
“Using instrument, Russia should achieve deals on cross-border cooperation and then establish direct interstate relations with the Ukrainian territories where stable pro-Russian electoral sentiments exist,” the alleged document reads, said the Independent, and also "suggests that Russia’s support for such territories will obviously be a burden for the budget in the current situation, but adds that in geopolitical perspective it will give us a priceless gain - our country will receive access to new demographic resources and highly-qualified personnel in the industrial and transport sphere."
"One section of the document appears to lay out the need for the destabilization of events in western Ukraine," reports the British website, and further quotes it:
“To launch the process of the ‘pro-Russian drift’ of Crimean and Eastern Ukrainian territories, it's needed to create the events that would give this process political legitimacy and moral justification, beforehand."