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Ukraine’s Influence Increases in Disputed Black Sea Waters

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Six weeks after Russia launched its full-scale invasion, Ukraine sank the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, dealing a severe blow to the enemy navy, and, a Ukrainian official stated, killing the ship’s captain.

“We don’t mourn,” an adviser to the inside minister on the time, Anton Gerashchenko, stated.

The one downside was that the captain — or someone who resembled him — later appeared in a video of survivors launched by the Russian Navy. He had escaped his sinking ship, the Moskva, the video appeared to point.

It has by no means been clear what occurred to the captain, Anton Kuprin, or whether or not the stories of his loss of life had been intentionally put out by Ukraine to sow confusion or had been merely a results of mistaken intelligence.

What is obvious is that misdirection, disinformation and propaganda are weapons repeatedly deployed in Russia’s struggle in Ukraine to buoy spirits at dwelling, demoralize the enemy or lead opponents right into a lure. And it’s usually exhausting to know when stories are false or why they could have been disseminated.

Now, Ukraine and Russia are providing dueling narratives over whether or not a extra senior Russian naval officer, the commanding admiral of the Black Sea Fleet, is alive or lifeless.

Ukraine’s particular operations forces on Monday asserted that they had killed the commander, Adm. Viktor Sokolov, in a strike on his headquarters within the metropolis of Sevastopol, together with 33 different officers. On Tuesday, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, deferred questions on his destiny to the navy. Minutes later, Russia’s Ministry of Protection launched a video of a gathering of protection officers that appeared to indicate Admiral Sokolov, and different commanders, showing by video hyperlink. One other video purporting to indicate him was printed by a state TV channel on Wednesday.

Ukraine has stated it’s clarifying whether or not he had died, which leaves open the query of why the navy appeared so positive the day earlier than.

Ukraine has deftly used misdirection within the struggle. Via the summer time of 2022, a number of officers telegraphed a looming offensive to reclaim the town of Kherson, within the nation’s south, and navy analysts stated Russia redeployed troops from the northeast to bolster defenses within the south.

Ukraine then staged a shock assault within the northeastern Kharkiv area, breaking by way of thinly defended strains and forcing a chaotic retreat. The assault on the south continued, however at a slower tempo, and Ukraine’s military reclaimed Kherson two months later.

Few navy analysts, however, imagine the Ukrainian navy’s optimistic each day account of Russian casualties operating into the lots of that’s nonetheless reported broadly in Ukrainian media.

If Admiral Sokolov did, in truth, die, the Russian video launched Tuesday might recommend an effort to disclaim successful for Ukraine by muddying the waters over his destiny.

The Ukrainian declare, alternatively, might have been supposed to sow confusion in Russian ranks over the chain of command or merely to emphasise the success of the strike on the headquarters that had pierced Russian air defenses in a key Russian naval port.

The strike on the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters was a really actual achievement for Ukraine, regardless of the destiny of the admiral, simply because the sinking of the Russian flagship was a significant blow to Moscow, even when the captain survived. (Russia continues to keep up the ship sank because of an unintentional explosion.)

Mr. Gerashchenko stated that, in the long run, struggle propaganda is just efficient when it accompanies battlefield successes. The missile strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet final week, he stated, was a “gorgeous success of Ukrainian intelligence and the air drive that fired the cruise missiles on a supposedly well-defended web site.”

“You can not win the propaganda struggle with out profitable the true struggle,” he added.

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