Kremlin propagandists are floating the “absurd” idea that Ukraine is going to invade the Belgorod region in an attempt to scare its own public into raising their support for the war, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

The UK-based think tank said Russia appeared to be “setting information conditions for a false-flag attack” inside their own country – a staged incident that would be falsely blamed on the government in Kyiv.

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The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said the idea Ukraine could mount an invasion into Russian territory was “absurd” as they had “no ability to do so at such a scale” and “no strategic interest” in doing so.

Despite this, Kremlin propagandists are still discussing the idea “to scare the general public” into increasing their support for what Russia calls its “special military operation”.

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A number of explosions have rocked Belgorod Region in recent months, with strikes at ammunition dumps and power infrastructure though Ukraine has never officially claimed responsibility.

The ISW also notes the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, appears to be monopolising fear caused by discussions of a fictitious threat in order to “solidify his power in Russian border regions and Russia”.

Earlier this month he announced his organisation had started training civilians in Russian regions bordering Ukraine to form armed groups and build fortifications.

“Wagner is helping and will keep helping the population in border areas to learn how to build engineering structures, to train and to organise a militia,” Prigozhin was quoted as saying by the press service of his company, Concord.

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He said that “a huge number of people are already ready to defend their land”, AFP reports.

Prigozhin said Wagner’s main aim was to start building fortifications and training schools in the Belgorod and Kursk Regions, which have regularly come under fire in recent months in attacks blamed by Moscow on the Ukrainian army.

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“If you want peace, prepare for war,” he said, insisting that every Russian has the right to defend their homeland as they see fit.

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