Russian Ministry of Defense spokesperson Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov warned on Friday that Ukrainian forces in the city of Kharkiv were readying a "provocation" in concert with Western journalists by firing heavy weaponry from a residential area with the aim of provoking a retaliation by Russian forces that would be caught on camera.
Russian statements about supposed "provocations" by the Ukrainian side have been a prelude to shelling or strikes by Russian forces.
"In the city of Kharkiv, Ukrainian nationalists are preparing a provocation with the participation of Western journalists," Konashenkov said in a video briefing released by the Russian MOD. "According to confirmed data, on Zhylyardi Street, Kyiv District, in a private residential area, multiple launch rocket systems are placed between the houses. Nationalists have forbidden local residents, including children, from leaving their homes. Now the installations are ready for shelling units of the Russian armed forces located outside the city. The purpose of the provocation is to call back fire from Russian artillery on the residential sector of Kharkiv. All this is planned to be filmed on cameras with the subsequent transfer of filming to Western journalists."
Konashenkov provided no evidence to support the claim. Russia has previously made baseless claims about humanitarian workers in Syria being involved in staging or provoking attacks to prompt international outrage and spur Western governments to intervene militarily. "Ukrainian nationalists" is a shorthand the Russian government has used to characterize forces putting up resistance to Russian troops.
Journalists working in Ukraine have extensively documented the heavy shelling of Kharkiv by Russian forces, including in residential areas.