Fake accusations of Ukrainian air defenses in the destruction of Ukrainian cities: from telegram channels to the UN Security Council


The civil infrastructure of Ukraine has been the object of Russian missile strikes since the beginning of the war. As a result of these shelling, primarily civilians are killed and injured. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), for the period from February 24, 2022, to February 5, 2023, the confirmed number of dead civilians in Ukraine was 7,155, of which 438 were children, and 11,662 people were injured.

However, the real losses are much higher, since only officially confirmed cases were included in the statistics, and the large number of victims in the occupied territories and places where intense fighting is taking place is not taken into account. However, the officials of the Russian Federation during the full-scale war repeatedly cynically stated that the causes of the destruction of civilian infrastructure and the death of people in Ukraine are not Russian missiles, but the means of Ukrainian air defense.


Russian fakes: victims in Ukraine from their own weapons

On November 24, 2022, the permanent representative of Russia to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, at a meeting of the Security Council, blamed Ukrainian air defense equipment for the explosions in Kyiv and Vyshgorod.

Vasily Nebenzya — current Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations

He noted: «Damage to residential buildings and casualties among the civilian population really occur due to the fault of the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces, which is not located on the outskirts of the city, but in the very center. As a result, missile fragments or Ukrainian missiles that have deviated from the course hit those objects that Russia did not even aim at.» The Russian diplomat did not provide any proof of his words.

Another accusation of Ukrainian air defense equipment was made after the tragedy in Dnipro, which claimed the lives of 45 people, six of whom were children.

Russian Propaganda Telegram Channel Uses Dnipro Tragedy to Spread Fake Claims

Vasily Nebenzya said at a meeting of the UN Security Council that the Russian Kh-22 missile that hit a high-rise building in Dnipro was allegedly shot down by the air defense forces of Ukraine:

«A Russian missile launched at an infrastructure object of the city was shot down by the air defense forces of Ukraine. Since the anti-aircraft missile installation was placed in a residential quarter in violation of international humanitarian law, which you care so much about, the shot-down missile fell on a residential building.»

Therefore, the permanent representative of Russia at the UN does not consider the shelling of Ukrainian cities with inaccurate weapons to destroy their civilian infrastructure to be a violation of international humanitarian law. However, he accuses the Ukrainian side of trying to shoot down these missiles and prevent the destruction they bring.

This fake information is also spread in Russian propaganda telegram channels. For example, the readovchat channel, which has more than 1,660,000 subscribers, published photos from the scene of the tragedy and the following comment:

«The Armed Forces of Ukraine do not spare their own civilians, shooting down missiles of the Russian Air Force right over residential areas of cities. Apparently, in Dnipropetrovsk today, an old anti-aircraft missile again took the wrong course and hit a residential high-rise.»

Even the readers of the propaganda channel do not believe the claims that the missile was from the Ukrainian air defense system

But even pro-Russian subscribers of this channel do not believe that such destruction could be the result of an air defense missile hitting the house. They expressed their doubts about the veracity of this information in the comments on it.


Official statements and an expert’s opinion: such missiles cannot be shot down by Ukrainian air defense

The commander of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant General Mykola Oleschuk, commented on the fake statements of the Russian side. He stated that the Armed Forces of Ukraine do not have weapons capable of shooting down the type of missiles (Kh-22) that the Russians launched on January 14, 2023, and one of which hit a residential building in Dnipro.

Russia uses indiscriminate weapons against civilian infrastructure. Kh-22 is a long-range anti-ship missile developed in the Soviet Union in 1960s

He also noted that more than 210 missiles of this type have been launched on the territory of Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s military aggression. None was shot down by anti-aircraft defenses. At the same time, when using these missiles from long distances, the deviation from the target can be hundreds of meters.

The mayor of the city of Dnipro, Boris Filatov, believes that the Russian military could have aimed at the thermal power plant in Dnipro, but hit a residential building.

Ukrainian air defense systems cannot shoot down such a missile

We asked Mykola Beleskov, a military expert, chief consultant of the National Institute of Strategic Studies, and senior analyst of the «Come Back Alive» fund, for explanations regarding the possibility of locating air defense equipment in the centers of Ukrainian cities.

He noted that «it is illogical to place anti-aircraft defenses in residential areas, then the inspection of radars for situational coverage and missile guidance becomes worse.»

Already after the destruction of a residential building in Dnipro by a Russian Kh-22 missile, new accusations appeared. On February 1, 2023, Russian troops shelled Kramatorsk, Donetsk region. Russian mass media and propaganda channels in social networks initially wrote about the strike on ostensibly military targets. When it became known about the destruction of the residential building, information about the missile of the Ukrainian air defense system began to spread.


Installation of air defense systems in administrative buildings in the Russian Federation

Accusing the Armed Forces of Ukraine of deploying anti-aircraft defenses in cities, the Russian side does not provide evidence for its words. Instead, in January 2023, photos and videos of anti-aircraft missile and gun complexes «Pantsir-S1″* installed on the roofs of several buildings in Moscow appeared in the mass media and social networks.

In January 2023, air defense systems installed on the roofs of administrative buildings were seen in Moscow.

*According to the Oryx resource, at least 14 such installations were lost by Russian forces in less than a year of the war. Each installation is estimated at $13-14 million. At least two were captured in a condition suitable for further use by the Ukrainian army. Installations of this kind are used mainly by the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, in Europe, only the armed forces of Serbia are the operators.

Thus, by accusing the Ukrainian side of the tragedies in the Dnipro, Kyiv, Vyshgorod, Kremenchuk, etc., Russia tries to shift responsibility for the destruction of cities and the death of hundreds of people from itself. Meanwhile, it installs air defense systems itself, taking into account the threat of an attack by Ukrainian drones or other means.


Yevhen Dzhumyha

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