Ukraine arrests bloggers for exposing air defense failures
Four Ukrainian citizens have been arrested after posting videos of Russian airstrikes on the Kiev region, local authorities said, noting they could be charged for helping the enemy “adjust” its fire.
Moscow targeted multiple military sites around Kiev earlier this week, though Ukraine's military claimed to have intercepted most of the missiles.
The arrests were announced in a social media post by Ukraine's security service, the SBU, on Wednesday, claiming the four unnamed bloggers had “made an unauthorized video recording” of Russian strikes and shared the footage online.
“The Security Service once again emphasizes the prohibition of shooting and publishing video and photo materials regarding the activities of the Defense Forces, as well as the consequences of enemy strikes,” the agency continued, adding “The publication of such media files is considered adjusting enemy fire, which is punishable by up to 12 years in prison.”
The SBU went on to note that the strikes took place on January 2 as part of a “massive Russian missile and drone attack” on Kiev.
Russia’s Defense Ministry described the operation as a “group strike with long-range precision weapons and unmanned aerial vehicles on enterprises of the military-industrial complex of Ukraine,” adding that it targeted arms-manufacturing sites around the capital area.
Purported footage of the strikes has made the rounds online, though it remains unclear whether the videos were captured by any of those arrested on Wednesday. Some of the material appears to show strikes in progress, while other clips depict the aftermath of attacks.
On that day, the Ukrainian military claimed to have intercepted almost all incoming projectiles, including ten out of ten hypersonic Kinzhal missiles. Moscow previously ridiculed Kiev for exaggerating the effectiveness of its anti-aircraft defenses and claiming to intercept three times as many projectiles as Moscow actually launches. Moscow also repeatedly accused Kiev of deploying its air defense systems in residential districts, resulting in casualties among civilians.
Moscow’s missile and drone strikes intensified after Ukraine launched an attack on the Russian border city of Belgorod last week, killing 25 people, including several children, and injuring more than 100, according to local officials. In the early hours of January 1, Kiev also shelled Donetsk, a frequent target of the Ukrainian military since 2014, killing four people and injuring 13.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed a response to those “terrorist attacks,” promising to ramp up strikes on Ukrainian military facilities, though stressed that Moscow had no intention of targeting civilians.