StopFake has already debunked Russian claims that weapons in the occupied Donbas territories are spoils of war that Russian separatists took from the Ukrainian military. These fake claims have resurfaced again, this time seemingly supported by a 2014 report on the seizure of equipment by militants submitted by a Ukrainian Army colonel named V.M. Pushenko. The report however, is a complete fake.
Quickly republished by Russian bloggers and media, the fake report is being presented as proof of origin for much of the military equipment held by the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. The fake was first published by Cyber Berkut a hacker group that claims its goal is to “help Ukraine preserve its independence from western military aggression supporting the neo-fascist government”. The “scoops” that this disinformation site publishes have been repeatedly refuted by StopFake and other fact checking organizations.
The document purporting to be a Ukrainian army report lists captured equipment, dates, part numbers and other details. It also lists military units who supposedly reported the equipment seizures. One unit is mentioned twice, another mentioned unit does not exist as it was disbanded in 2013 before the war began. The document is filled with inaccuracies and language errors, Cyber Berkut dismisses these criticisms by saying the report simply shows how illiterate Ukrainian officers and officials are.
The first item listed in the fake lost equipment report is the June 20, 2014 attack on the Artemivsk arms depot that supposedly landed the separatists 14 tanks, 12 infantry vehicles and other military hardware. Russian backed separatists did in fact attack the Artemivsk depot on that day, however, they were repelled and the Ukrainian military captured a tank from the separatists, a tank that turned out to be part of Russia’s arsenal. (Built at the Kharkiv Malyshev Tank Factory in 1987, the tank was shipped to Russia and assigned to military garrison No 205 in Budennovsk, southwestern Russia.)
Despite being attacked repeatedly, the Artemivsk arms depot was never taken by the separatists. Even the former separatist leader Russian mercenary Igor Girkin (aka Strelkov) admitted to losing that fight.
This fake report is a strange mixture of battles that never actually took place, at the same time it fails to mention real battles that resulted in militants actually capturing equipment from the Ukrainian military, such as a June 29 2014 Donetsk battle are not mentioned at all.
Organizations other than StopFake have written about the origins of weaponry that Russian backed militants have at their disposal in the Donbas. A 2015 Bellingcat report with satellite images showed 60 different spots where Russian troops and equipment crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border.