Vladimir Putin has been lying about plans to invade Ukraine for the last two months, the Russian President's ex-spokesman has claimed.
During an interview on the BBC's Newsnight, Sergei Markov said Putin had "stopped telling the truth" on the issue of Ukraine because the decision had already been made to invade.
Markov, a former adviser to the Russian President, made the comments during a discussion on why Russians do not trust western leaders, accusing them of lying.
In contrast, he said Putin could be trusted on everything he had said "but not during the last couple of months".
Asked by Newsnight's Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban when the Russian President had stopped telling the truth, he said: "I think a couple of months ago Vladimir Putin stopped telling the truth about this specific issue on Ukraine because the decision had been made about a preparation for the military liberation of Ukraine."
He said Putin's declarations that he was not planning to invade Ukraine was "military disinformation ".
Markov insisted that Russia's engagement in diplomatic efforts ahead of this week's invasion was not a "charade", but suggested that its military action had been prompted by a failure to meet its "very simple" demands.
The crisis in Ukraine continued on Friday as troops advanced towards the capital, with missile strikes and explosions reported throughout the country.
Western leaders have reacted in horror to the invasion, with plans to enact sanctions in a bid to stop Putin.
Watch: Here's how Russia's invasion of Ukraine unfolded on day one
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that other European countries may be next after Moscow mounted a massed assault by land, sea and air in the biggest attack on a European state since the Second World War.
Ukraine has told its citizens to prepare Molotov cocktails to use against Russian soldiers, with President Volodymyr Velenskyy telling his people that anyone who wanted them would be supplied with weapons.