Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Russian Disinformation Analysis Regarding The Kerch Strait Incident

Russia’s goals in releasing propaganda are consistent.

  • Blame Ukraine for the Kerch Strait incident
  • Say Ukraine planned the Kerch Strait incident
  • Say Ukraine is taking their orders from the West, usually from the US
  • The West has been planning a Ukraine vs. Russia provocation for decades

Russian propaganda points that are often repeated.

  • Ukrainian ships entered Russian waters in the Black Sea illegally
  • The Ukraine vessels had not requested passage
  • The Ukraine vessels were navigating dangerously
  • The presence of Ukraine SBU agents, nevermind they were counterintelligence agents, is used as evidence that the trip by the Ukraine vessels was obviously ‘sneaky’, meaning staging an offensive intelligence operation. Quite often the SBU agents are mentioned but only as an inference of a nefarious intelligence purpose
  • The incident occurred a few days before the G-20 conference in Buenos Aires, so obviously it was staged as a distraction by the US, in order to cancel the Trump/Putin meeting
  • A piece of paper, which the FSB claims showed incontrovertible proof of national Ukraine directives to cause a “provocation” was produced by the FSB after a significant delay.
  • President Putin claimed that the resultant Ukraine declaration of martial law was a provocation by Ukraine.
  • Putin called the incident a mere “border incident”, downplaying the incident.
  • The purpose of the incident was to promote Poroshenko’s popularity for the upcoming election (March 2019)
  • The purpose of the incident was to delay or cancel the upcoming election

SADM Device

A new piece of propaganda, the inclusion of a Special Atomic Demolition Munition (SADM) is new.

  • One of the Ukraine boats was carrying a SADM device

Evidence of a SADM has never been produced.

Because of the alleged presence of a SADM device, the Russian Coast Guard is referred to as Special Forces and Russian propaganda loudly proclaims that they prevented a disaster.

A pro-Russian friend mentioned the SADM device two days after the Kerch Strait incident on a Ukraine discussion group on Facebook. He’s American, so the concept of a SADM device on the Ukraine vessels must have been introduced very quickly by Russian propaganda.

Points avoided in the Russian media

  • The 2003 treaty between Russia and Ukraine ensuring freedom of passage in and out of the Sea of Azov
  • The presence of at least eight ships of the Russian navy, two SU-25 combat aircraft, and 2 recon and assault helicopters Kamov Ka-52 (Hokum B)
    • Russia has deemed their response as “proportionate”, with at least 8 ships, 2 helicopters and 2 SU 25s vs. two patrol boats and one tug.
  • Only Russian ships and aircraft fired their weapons
  • Russian ships repeatedly rammed the Ukrainian vessels
  • The incident occurred in international waters, outside Russian waters, in the Black Sea

Bottom line Summation

Russia’s disinformation, fake news, and propaganda are consistently implausible, too far-fetched, and too close to the appearance of a conspiracy theory to be remotely believable.

Russia is inundating the media with enough propaganda and disinformation as to permanently persuade readers to never take the Russian media seriously. The Russian leadership is a major factor in spreading the disinformation, making them uncompelling. When everything emanating from Russia appears as false or fake, Russia will never again be taken seriously.


To its credit, Ukraine has steered clear of introducing obviously false information, avoiding any accusations of propaganda.

One of the better articles about the Russian disinformation regarding this incident is here, EU StratCom Task Force elaborates on wave of Russian disinformation around Kerch Strait incident


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