In an interview segment partly discussing the large number of recent deaths of Russian conscripts resulting from the major Ukrainian strike on a training barracks in Makiivka, Professor Michael Clarke (formerly an expert from the Royal United services Institute), claims that many conscripts are from distant parts of Russia (ie not the large cosmopolitan cities like Moscow or St Petersburg). He also claims that many of those conscripts have been told they are there to fight Poland. He claims they have been told that Poland has invaded Ukraine and is planning to invade Russia.

The video where the claim is made is on Youtube here (and the claims are around 5:30 in the video):

... and they've been called into their various units, most of them come from eastern Russia, they don't come from Moscow or St. Petersburg very much, most of them are troops from other regions, and most of them think that they're going to Ukraine to fight the Poles. They're being told that Poland has invaded Ukraine and is preparing to invade Russia. And so most of them, when they're questioned, think that they're fighting Polish troops...

The original broadcast was on Times Radio in the UK.

The video summary on Youtube says:

"Many captured troops mobilised by Putin have been misled to believe they are defending Russia from Polish troops, Professor Michael Clarke tells #TimesRadio."

Are there independent verifiable sources that confirm this?

  • 1
    A potential source for confirmation (or not) might be Zolkin Volodymyr (youtube) interviews with Russian POWs.
    – Yorik
    Jan 5, 2023 at 15:38

1 Answer 1


Although I don't have direct confirmation, I'd rate this as fairly plausible. Not only are/were Western Ukrainian POWs teased as being practically Polish (in Russian captivity), but according to some Western journalist:

It seems jarring, then, to hear Russian President Vladimir Putin’s propagandists claim that according to their latest intelligence, Poland is secretly planning to invade and annex the territories in western Ukraine that it used to control prior to the Second World War. Yet this is exactly the narrative that members of Putin’s inner circle like Foreign Intelligence Service Director Sergey Naryshkin and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev have been pushing for months buoyed by support from state-backed Russian media over the past few weeks. Pro-Kremlin actors have gone to great lengths to support this claim. A supposed order signed by a Polish general authorising Polish troops to enter Ukraine’s Lviv and Volyn oblasts was recently circulated on social media before being confirmed to be a forgery, and propagandists like Patrushev have jumped on cherry-picked comments from Duda, who stated in May that “there will not be a border” between Poland and Ukraine."

One can easily find some of the latter in other sources, e.g. the official Turkish news agency headlines (quoting their Moscow correspondent) "Naryshkin claims Warsaw preparing for voting to annex Western parts of Ukraine". According to a more detailed piece Naryshkin said this in an interview with with RIA. But it's not particularly novel or original as former Russian president/PM Medvedev said something similar this summer, even sharing some maps of what the the planned partition of Ukraine looks like. Those were tacked to some Polish proposals of sending peacekeepers to Western Ukraine, which Kyiv rejected (although that Polish proposal was way back in March last year.)

So, it seems rather plausible to me that some version of this conspiracy theory may have been told to some Russian conscripts.

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