DISINFO: A journalist on board the HMS Defender confirmed the deliberate entrance in Russian waters
  • Outlet: it.sputniknews.com (archived)*
  • Date of publication: July 19, 2021
  • Article language(s): Italian
  • Reported in: Issue 253
  • Countries / regions discussed: Ukraine, UK, Russia
Military Military exercise Crimea Black Sea illegal annexation BBC

DISINFO: A journalist on board the HMS Defender confirmed the deliberate entrance in Russian waters


A journalist on board the HMS Defender confirmed the destroyer's deliberate entrance in Russian territorial waters. The UK’s actions were a provocation against Russia.


Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the HMS Defender incident near the Crimean coast of Ukraine on 23 June 2021. The article’s message is also consistent with pro-Kremlin narratives about the status of Crimea.

Pro-Kremlin outlets spread the narrative that the incident was a deliberate provocation by the HMS Defender against Russia, quoting Jonathan Beale, a BBC journalist and defence correspondent, present on board the HMS Defender, in order to support this narrative.

In reality, this narrative is based on a distortion of Jonathan Beale’s report. As can be seen in his original report, Beale uttered the term “deliberate” in a different context to the one portrayed by pro-Kremlin outlets. His exact words were: “HMS Defender is going to sail within what Russia now claims as its territorial waters, but following a legally recognised shipping lane”.

In a written addendum to the story on the BBC website, Beale stated:

This would be a deliberate move to make a point to Russia. HMS Defender was going to sail within the 12 mile (19km) limit of Crimea's territorial waters. The captain insisted he was only seeking safe passage through an internationally recognised shipping lane.”

In this article, his statements are merged and the nuances are purposefully ignored, presenting as if he allegedly confirms a deliberate border violation in order to portray the incident as a British provocation, in line with the statements of Russian top officials.

Given that Russia’s annexation of Crimea is considered illegal by the international community, the statement that the vessel “entered Russian territorial waters in the Black Sea” is also false.

Read similar cases claiming that BBC journalist confirmed that the ship had deliberately crossed the border, that UK destroyer’s passage near Crimea violated international law and that UK warship violated Russian territorial waters


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Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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