Disinfo: There was a Ukrainian provocation in the Kerch strait


Russian border guards seized the Ukrainian military ships during a provocation in the Kerch Strait on November 25, 2018.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about the Kerch incident.

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

Russia stated they were in Russian waters. However, according to the bilateral agreement between Ukraine and Russia, the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov are the internal waters of both Russia and Ukraine.

The agreement gives both parties the power to inspect suspicious vessels. Furthermore, both the 2003 bilateral agreement and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea provide for freedom of navigation.

On the 25th May on 2019, the UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled that Russia should release the sailors detained in the Kerch Strait and return the ships to Ukraine.

Twenty-four military sailors returned to Ukraine on 7 September as part of a mutual release of detainees by Ukraine and Russia. On 18 November, 2019, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it had handed three naval ships back to Ukraine.

For further reporting see Bellingcat, DFRLab and Polygraph.


  • Reported in: Issue 173
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 18/11/2019
  • Language/target audience: French
  • Country: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: Kerch, Provocation
  • Outlet: Sputnik French
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