Report: Russia had Ukraine incursion planned a year ago

An armoured personnel carrier (APC) with a Russian flag drives outside the regional administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 21, 2014.


Last Updated Feb 25, 2015 12:28 PM EST

One of Russia's few remaining independent newspapers released what it claims is proof that Russia had plans to sow dissent in Ukraine and even take over large parts of the country long before the rebellion kicked off in earnest last year.

The independent weekly Novaya Gazeta posted an abridged version on its website Tuesday of what it calls an "analytical note," purportedly presented to Vladimir Putin's administration between February 4-15, 2014.

The weekly's claims could not be verified, and so far Moscow has not responded to them. Novaya Gazeta haven't shown the exact document to anybody and so far have refused to explain how they have found this document, reports CBS News Moscow bureau chief Svetlana Berdnikova.

The report has been released just as yet another cease-fire in the volatile east of Ukraine appears to be continually violated, and peace talks stall. Russian President Vladimir Putin and top Russian officials have repeatedly denied providing material or other support to the rebels, which U.S. Sec. of State John Kerry called a "lie" this week.

The note in Novaya Gazeta calls for Russia to annex Crimea and absorb other parts of Ukraine -- a feat the document suggests should be instigated with a robust PR campaign focused in areas already home to large proportions of pro-Moscow residents.

It calls former President Viktor Yanukovych as being politically bankrupt and unworthy of Russian support. Yanukovych fled his post in Kiev on February 24. Russia has many times since described his ouster as a Western-backed coup.

The note also lays out a roadmap that bears an eerie resemblance to the way events eventually unfolded in eastern Ukraine.

"The ongoing events in Kyiv clearly show that Yanukovych's authority may come to the end at any moment. So less time remains for an adequate reaction from Russia. The number of people killed in riots in Ukrainian capital shows that civil war is inevitable, and a consensus where Yanukovych could save his post is impossible," the note says, according to an English-language translation by the Kyiv Post.

"The early parliamentary and presidential election can become an excuse for a new spiral of rallies-and-assault-type civil war, the deepening of the East vs West electoral breakup and, as a result, will speed up disintegration of Ukraine," the note reads.

As for Crimea, which Russia annexed in March, Moscow always had bigger goals in mind, according to the note.

"Russia... should [at first] attempt to enter into cross-border cooperation agreements and then establish direct inter-government relations with (eastern) Ukrainian territories, where there is stable pro-Russian electoral support," the document says.

While the takeover of parts of eastern Ukraine could become a burden on Russia's economy, the document still calls the move "invaluable."

Voice of America reports Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov said he believes that Konstantin Malofeyev, a wealthy Russian financier, was involved in creating the document.

Ukraine has accused Malofeyev of financing the rebels in eastern Ukraine. He is among those subject to Western sanctions related to the Ukraine crisis. In an interview last year, Malofeyev called Ukraine "an artificial creation on the ruins of the Russian Empire."