Disinfo: In 2018, Ukrainian ships deliberately violated Russian border in the Kerch strait


[In 2018] three ships, Nikopol, Berdyansk and Yany-Kapu, deliberately violated the borders of the Russian Federation in the area of the Kerch Strait.


This is a part of recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation on the Kerch incident.

On 25 November 2018, border patrol boats belonging to Russia’s FSB security service seized two small Ukrainian armoured artillery vessels and a tugboat and their crews after shooting at them, wounding several Ukrainian servicemen and arresting 24 members.

Russia argued that they were in Russian waters. However, a bilateral treaty between Russia and Ukraine, signed in 2003 and ratified by Russia in 2004, governs the use of the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, which in the treaty is considered to be the “internal waters” of both Russia and Ukraine.

On 25 May 2019, the United Nations Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordered Russia to immediately release Ukrainian sailors and allow them to return to Ukraine. The EU urged Russia to release the captured crew.

Twenty-four military sailors returned to Ukraine on 7 September 2019 as part of a mutual release of detainees by Ukraine and Russia. On 21 November 2019, Russia returned the ships to Ukraine.


  • Reported in: Issue 174
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 23/11/2019
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: Ukraine, Azov sea, Kerch


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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