On November 12, 2019, a Georgian-language website of pro-Kremlin online media outlet News Front released an article headlined „ПЁТР ВЕЛИКИЙ VS. RICHMOND: Battle of Russian and British Warships. It provides a story prepared by Zvezda, a Russian state-owned nationwide TV channel run by the Russian Defense Ministry, in 2017 on how the British warship Richmond violated the international maritime rules and created a threat to the Russian Navy. News Front presented the story as yet another episode of “Battle of Russian and NATO Navies.” According to the story, the British warship was openly and impudently trying to take a place in the column of Russian aircraft carriers that was largely driven by its “banal curiosity.” Ultimately, the Russian warship crossed Richmond’s route, prompting the British warship to retreat.
For better clarity, the journalist compares the confrontation with the situation on a race track, when one car tries to throw another from the track, saying that there is a similar battle between them.
The TV story aired by Zvezda, as well as the article released by News Front is manipulative. In fact, in 2016, the United Kingdom sent Richmond to shadow Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and its task force planning to sail near the British territorial waters on its way to Syria. Moreover, Russian warships were informed that Richmond and other British vessels would be watching them passing near the British territorial waters.
The British warship Richmond had been tracking the movement of Russian vessels since 2016 and Russia was informed about it.
The carrier and its task force was sailing south from the Norwegian Sea on its way to Syria, passing near the British territorial waters that looks on the map like this.
Since the Russian warships planned to pass through English Channel, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said the ships would be “man-marked” every step of the way.
“We will be watching as part of our steadfast commitment to keep Britain safe,” he said.
This is just when British Richmond was sent to track the Russian vessels on their way to Syria and backwards.
Russian warships were informed from the very beginning that Richmond and other British vessels would be watching their passage near the British territorial waters. So, any claims that Richmond impudently tried to approach Russian vessels largely due to its curiosity are manipulative.
Zvezda’s TV story provides no footage featuring the confrontation between Richmond and Peter the Great.
As an illustration, the story provides an episode from auto racing and relevant videos, instead of a real footage featuring the scene described by the journalist.
The article released by News Front was shared by pro-Russian Facebook pages Georgia and World and “Kidobani News - ახალი ამბების კიდობანმა” on November 12.
On the same day, Georgian News Front’s admin, Konstantine Chikviladze shared the article in various groups.
About News Front
Facebook page of Georgian-language News Front was created on October 13, 2019 and it has links with openly pro-Russian actors, like Georgia and World, Eurasian Union, Patriot TV, as well as Politicano, affiliated with the Yevgeny Primakov Public Center, which mainly manipulates with socialist issues, trying to incite Soviet nostalgia.Simultaneously, News Front’s Facebook page administers a public group “Россия и Грузия- дружба навеки!” (Russia and Georgia – Friendship Forever). The group was created on September 11, 2014 and it changed its name three times since then. On February 4, 2019, the group changed its name twice – initially it was named Kidobani and then Kidobani News. The group chose the name “Россия и Грузия- дружба навеки!” on August 4, 2019. Besides News Front Georgia’s page, the group has six other admins. News Front Georgia’s page also has six admins.
See detailed information about News Front at the following link: News Front Georgia – Kremlin’s New Information Front in Georgia.
Prepared by Mariam Topchishvili
Regional Network of Media Literacy Lab