Russia has begun its unjustified invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Europe is witnessing a dictatorship attempting to be reborn as an empire, for the first time since WWII. Russia accompanies its attacks with threats to use nuclear weapons, fakes about “genocide” in Donbas, “mass graves” discovered in eastern Ukraine, “chemical weapons” and “dirty nuclear bombs” supposedly being developed in Ukraine. Hundreds of missiles have been fired at Kyiv, Kharkiv, Vinnytsia, Sumy, Chernihiv, Mariupol and many other cities around Ukraine. More than 300 schools have been destroyed.  Over 2 million people have fled Ukraine.  Totalitarian system is attacking a peaceful country as an opening act of reshaping the security order in Europe.

A form of disinformation known as “false-flag operation” is a military aggression mechanism that involves deliberate fabrication of a justification for an attack, or a method of shifting responsibility for a violent act on another actor or state.  Russia has used false-flag operations hundreds of times in its history.  During the Soviet era, Russia, for example, used the false-flag tactic to undermine friendship between the neighboring countries of Ukraine and Poland.  It also used it to incite hatred among different ethnic groups by perpetrating attacks on them, while posing as a neighbor or a friend.  Today, Russia is using false-flag methods to justify its allegations that the invasion of Ukraine serve a legitimate security purpose of “protecting” Russian-speaking population in Ukraine, including residents of the Russia-controlled parts of eastern Ukraine.  Russia “protects” Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine, including in such cities as Kharkiv, Mariupol, Mykolaiv, Kherson by dropping hundreds of bombs and launching short-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. 

Totalitarianism is back in Europe. Russia has managed to portray itself as a European nation, pretending it was committed to democratic principles. But its institutions have never been independent. Russia inserted its authoritarian system into the European community under the “false flag” of democracy. Now it is invading Ukraine under the false flag of “self-defense” and “security guarantees.” A prelude to the war against Ukraine was an attempt to intimidate Europe with the “false flag” migration crisis in Belarus, which was engineered by Moscow. Russia has so far been able to escape responsibility for violating peace and security in Europe and the world. It’s success can be explained by the natural aptitude at inventing and implementing “false flag” methods.

Russia is attacking Ukraine because Ukraine’s existence exposes Moscow’s theft of Ukraine’s identity, upon which it has built is status of empire. Admitting Ukraine’s independent identity would be an unacceptable weakness for a totalitarian Russian state that was founded on a stolen name and historical heritage of its neighbor. Ukraine exists because of the indomitable aspirations of its people for independence and its deep, centuries-old European roots. Seeking to appropriate Ukraine’s European heritage, Russia continues to deny its right to exist. Russia’s historic goal is to destroy Ukraine’s bridges to Europe.

Russian foreign minister Lavrov claimed on January 21, 2022 Russia never threatened Ukraine.  Putin’s spokesperson stated just four days before the invasion of Ukraine that Russia has never attacked anyone in its history.  “Russia is the last country in Europe that wants to even pronounce the word “war”,” Kremlin claimed.  However, research shows that Russia started at least 53 wars in its history, including aggression against the Baltic states in 1918-1919, 1939 and 1941-1944, Ukraine in 1918-1920, Poland i 1919-1920 and 1939,  Finland in 1939, 1940, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, Moldova in 1992, Georgia in 2008, Ukraine in 2014 and others.  

For eight years of Russia’s war against Ukraine in Donbas in 2014-2022, Russia claimed it was not involved, even when its own court in Rostov region recognized presence of Russian troops.  Russia increased its use of false-flag operation since the start of the invasion in February 2022.  Some of the most astonishing false accusations include the Russia’s claims Ukraine was developing chemical and biological weapons.  Russian defense ministry spokesperson Konashenkov claimed on March 9 that Ukrainian “nationalists” were preparing for a “provocation using toxic substances” in Kharkiv region. Russian foreign minister Lavrov claimed on March 10 that Ukraine developed an “ethnically-oriented biological weapon.” Lavrov also asserted, on day 15 of the invasion, that Russia “never attacked Ukraine.”  On March 11, Russian planes departed from Belarus, entered Ukraine’s airspace over Tumen village and fired at the village of Kopani in Belarusian territory in an attempt to justify the involvement of Belarusian army in the invasion of Ukraine.  At the United Nations Security Council, Russian representative claimed Ukraine released birds from the Kherson zoo to carry viruses to Russia. Putin’s regime has a long track-record of manufacturing claims of non-existent threats and supposed hostile actions. 

Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has removed the false veneer of democracy and revealed what Russia had been trying to mask for decades – consolidation of a totalitarian system aimed at conquering Europe by military force, nuclear blackmail, energy dependence, and disinformation. Russia, however, is more than just a constant operator of false-flag acts. It uses false-flag methods not just for orchestrating false pretexts military action, substituting “peace” for “war,” but also for distorting historical memory and undermining identities of other countries.