On April 15th, 2022, the Facebook user “Malkhaz Khabazi” published a post claiming that in the Ukrainian city of Berdyansk, Ukrainian fighters misappropriated the humanitarian aid sent from Georgia and sold it to the local population.
The post is accompanied by the footage from the video of the Kremlin propaganda channel Russia Today, which allegedly shows boxes of humanitarian aid sent from Georgia having the flags of Georgia and Ukraine engraved on them. One of the photos even features the inscription, according to which the aid was sent from Dedoplistskaro municipality.
The claim that the Ukrainian military in the city of Berdyansk misappropriated and sold humanitarian aid sent from Georgia is disinformation. On February 27th, the city of Berdyansk was already blocked by Russian military forces, and on February 28th, the Ukrainian side confirmed that the city was controlled by the Russians. The first flow of humanitarian aid from Georgia to Ukraine was sent on February 27th. Assistance to Ukraine was to be provided through Poland, so Georgian humanitarian aid to Berdyansk could not have been delivered at a time when it was under Ukrainian control.
The post of Malkhaz Khabazi is based on the information disseminated by the Kremlin media Russia Today, according to which “the Ukrainian authorities were trying to create a humanitarian catastrophe in the city of Berdyansk.” According to RT, in Berdyansk, when it was still under the control of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, humanitarian aid received from Georgia was sold to the local population, and the received income was used by the “nationalists” to buy weapons. Russia Today published the information on the Russian social network Vkontakte and Telegram on April 15th. The post was accompanied by a video in which a “member of the operative service” shows the “shelter for nationalists”, where weapons, ammunition, uniforms and money were found. The photos used in Malkhaz Khabazi’s post have been taken from this same video.
Russia Today claims that the Ukrainian military was selling humanitarian aid received from Georgia when the city of Berdyansk was under their control. The Russian Defense Ministry said on February 27th that the city was blocked. On February 28th, Oleksiy Arestovych, the adviser to the Ukrainian president’s office, said at a press conference that Berdyansk was controlled by Russian forces. Arestovych also noted that Ukrainian military forces were not fortified in the city.
Arestovych: “Berdyansk is occupied by the enemy; our troops are not there. They [Russian forces] took the city; it is the same group that was moving from Melitopol to Mariupol.”
As already mentioned, the inscription of one of the boxes indicates that it belongs to Dedoplistskaro Municipality. Humanitarian aid was sent from Georgia to Ukraine for the first time on February 27th. According to the Georgian government, Ukraine would receive humanitarian aid from Georgia via the Polish city of Lublin. Lublin is located northeast of Ukraine and more than 1,300 kilometres from Berdyansk on the shores of the Azov Sea. By the time humanitarian aid was sent from Georgia, Berdyansk was already blocked by Russian forces, and the Ukrainian military would not be able to sell Georgian humanitarian aid to the locals.
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