Ukraine’s security service initiates criminal proceedings against air defense leakers

Traces of explosions are seen in the sky over Kyiv during a Russian missile strike on May 16.

Ukraine’s security service has registered criminal proceedings against six “bloggers” in Kyiv who it alleges took photos and videos showing the country’s air defense systems at work during Tuesday’s Russian missile strike and posted them on social media.

“The Security Service of Ukraine [SBU] has identified six residents of Kyiv who illegally disseminated information about the work of air defense forces during Russia's massive attack on Kyiv,” it said in a statement on Telegram.  

“On the night of May 16, they took unauthorized photos and videos of Ukrainian air defense and posted them on social media. Among other things, they recorded the results of Russian cruise and ballistic missile strikes. In this way, they could reveal the location and specifics of the Ukrainian air defense system. In a matter of minutes, these videos were picked up by numerous Telegram channels and Russian propaganda publics. Among them are internet resources controlled by the special services of the aggressor country.”

“The occupiers could use the information obtained in this way to adjust repeated air strikes on the capital of Ukraine,” it alleged.

The “unauthorized dissemination of information” about the Ukrainian Armed Forces is illegal under martial law, which was instituted when Russia invaded Ukraine last year. 

The SBU said it had seized mobile phones and computers at the suspects’ homes and that they face up to eight years in prison. 

The SBU also said it had blocked online cameras operated by several commercial enterprises in the capital that had automatically recorded images showing Ukraine’s air defenses at work on Tuesday morning. It claimed, “access to the footage was open to a wide range of ‘users’ who posted videos of the night attack on Kyiv on YouTube.”

Some context: In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Russia launched a salvo of missiles at Ukraine in an attack that Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv city administration, described as “exceptional in its density.” 

A US-made Patriot system was likely damaged, but not destroyed, as the result of a Russian missile barrage in and around Kyiv on Monday night, a US official told CNN.

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