Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine have begun manipulating residents by sending out mass text messages to discredit Ukrainian authorities, a military spokesman said.
"They have equipment that mimics the work of mobile phone operators. On April 6, for example, they sent out mass text messages to mobile users with the following message: ‘Hr 10 has been deducted from your account to support anti-terrorism operations.’ In reality, no money was taken from these accounts. It’s a psychological operation aimed at inattentive mobile phone users. We call on all residents to be careful and not fall for these provocations from our enemy,” Ukraine military spokesman Andrey Lysenko said on April 10.
Lysenko also said three Russian electronic reconnaissance stations had been spotted not far from Gorlovka and Dokuchayevsk, and 14 drone sightings had been recorded within the past day alone.
His remarks come as both sides in the conflict accuse each other of violating the February ceasefire agreement, which managed to secure a lull in fighting.
As Ukrainian defense officials and international monitors warn of an increase in shootings and provocations, however, many fear the shaky ceasefire will not hold – a concern that has been intensified by a separatist leader threatening a return to all-out war if Donetsk does not get independence.