World War 3: Vladimir Putin Plotted Ukraine Invasion Early As February 2014, New Report Says

Vladimir Putin planned aggressive moves in Ukraine that seemingly could set off World War 3, and he has been planning them much longer than was previously suspected, according to the editor of one of Russia's few independent news outlets, Novaya Gazeta.

The newspaper was started by former Soviet Union premiere Mikhail Gorbachev, and in a country where most major media is sponsored and largely controlled by the government, has repeatedly published hard-hitting investigative reports on Putin and his cronies in the Kremlin.

Since 2001, six Novaya Gazeta reporters have been killed — more than any other Russian news outlet. The 22-year-old paper's star reporter, Anna Politkovskaya, was gunned down in 2006. The paper itself has been nominated for a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.

In an interview with a Moscow radio station this week, current Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitri Muratov announced that the paper has obtained a top secret Kremlin document, prepared sometime between February 4 and February 15 of last year, in which the Kremlin outlines its plans to intervene in Ukraine so that Russia will continue to have access to the country's natural gas pipelines.

Ukraine was still embroiled in pro-Democracy protests at that time, and the country's Russia-backed president, Viktor Yanukovich, had not yet fled the country. Yanukovych finally left Ukraine on February 22.

Muraotv told Ekho Moskvy radio that Novaya Gazeta will publish the potentially explosive document sometime in the upcoming week, adding that he is certain the the document is real — but refusing to reveal how Novaya Gazeta got its hands on the confidential Kremlin document.

Vladimir Putin has long denied that Russian soldiers have entered Ukraine, or that the pro-Russia insurgents battling the government in eastern Ukraine are backed by Russia. Putin has described the heavily armed rebel troops as "volunteers" over whom the Kremlin has no control.

A ceasefire between the Ukraine government and the insurgents that was supposed to take effect last Sunday, February 15, has proven ineffective, as fighting has continued unabated around the eastern Ukraine city of Debaltseve, where the pro-Russia rebels have claimed that the ceasefire agreement does not apply.

"We don't have a cease fire," Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said in an interview with Fox News on Saturday.

"A cease fire means that no one shoots. Cease fire means that Russian-led terrorists do not make any kind of ongoing shellings, that they do not kill Ukrainian soldiers and innocent people."
Western experts say that The aggression of Vladimir Putin toward Ukraine has created, in effect, a "proxy war" between the U.S. and Russia — exactly the type of dangerous, Cold War-like situation that could lead to World War 3 without some sort of non-military solution to the ongoing crisis.

[Image: Hannah Peters/Getty Images]