Novaya Gazeta plans to publish the full details of the strategy document in the next few days

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the aggressive invasion of Ukraine much earlier than previously suspected, according to an investigative Russian newspaper. Dmitri Muratov, the editor of Novaya Gazeta, said in an interview with the radio station Echo of Moscow that his newspaper has obtained an official government strategy document that outlines the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia Approved Ukraine Invasion Weeks Before Kiev Govt Collapsed

Russia drafted the plan between February 4-15, 2014

Matthew Schofield of McClatchy Washington Bureau? reports that the strategy document was prepared weeks before the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia on February 22, 2014. Muratov did not reveal how he obtained the document in media-unfriendly Russia. But he expressed confidence that the document was authentic.

Started by former Soviet Union premier Mikhail Gorbachev, Novaya Gazeta is a rare investigative newspaper that has repeatedly angered Kremlin by publishing hard-hitting investigative reports. The paper plans to publish the full details of the strategy document in the next few days. Six journalists of Novaya Gazeta have been killed since 2001. One of them was shot dead at point-blank range in 2006 after she published a report criticizing Russian military actions in Chechnya.

Muratov told Echo of Moscow that the strategy document was drafted between February 4 and February 15, 2014. The document called the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych as “a person without morals and willpower whose downfall must be expected at any moment.” It included detailed plans on how to break Ukraine into pieces, and immediately attach the southeastern Ukraine to Russia’s tax union.

Vladimir Putin had approved the strategy document

The document said that the “main thrust” should be Kharkhiv and Crimea region, with a goal to initiate the annexation of eastern Ukraine. It also included a public relations campaign to justify Russia’s aggressive moves. Muratov said the Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofayev was one of the authors of the strategy document. Malofayev reportedly played a crucial role in fueling the pro-Russian separatist uprising in Crimea. The plan was fully approved by Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine reached a ceasefire agreement with pro-Russia separatists earlier this month. But separatists have repeatedly violated the ceasefire.