Russian propagandist media (REN TV, Vesti) disseminated a fake this week claiming that a lieutenant in the Ukrainian armed forces was advocating razing Crimea and the Donbas in order to return these occupied territories to Ukraine.

Website screenshot REN TV

Website screenshot Vesti

The source for this distorted claim is an interview that Lieutenant Vsevolod Stebliuk gave to the information portal Online.ua , where he does use the word raze, however, in a context that is completely opposite, to what the Russian sites claim.

Stebliuk never advocates resorting to a scorched earth approach to return these territories.These are his exact words:

“It is impossible to end this war diplomatically or through a simple decision. Go and liberate the occupied territories by force? This would mean huge numbers of casualties. In order to free occupied Crimea and the Donbas, you need a massive clean-up, like the Russians did in Grozny, they razed the place. Do we really need this?”

Lieutenant Stebliuk also talks about possible ways of ending the war in the east.

“The only sane way is to say to the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics yes; we recognize that you are now independent. We set the border; we set rules on border crossings. We establish customs rules; moving goods outside these rules is considered smuggling!  And with time we will think about diplomatic relations with these territories.”