The Ukrainian air force has clarified its stance on Telegram channels that inform the public in real-time about Russian missile and drone attacks, after rumors of a ban prompted many to stop publishing information during an air raid alert overnight.

In comments that he has since clarified, Air Force Command Spokesman, Yuri Ignat, on Wednesday warned that administrators of such channels could face criminal liability for publishing certain information.

"Serious measures will be taken in the near future,” he said. “Criminal cases may be opened because some Telegram channels provide real-time information about the movement of UAVs and missiles.

“I want to warn the administrators of these Telegram channels that this is a serious crime against Ukraine – informing the enemy."

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Millions of Ukrainians rely on such Telegram channels for potentially life-saving information during air raid alerts. A cottage industry of volunteer groups provide details of missile and drone launches which they use to inform themselves of the threat and whether or not they need to take shelter.

But in the early hours of Friday morning, during the latest drone attack against Ukrainian cities, Ignat’s comments led to some of these channels limiting themselves to vague and largely useless updates.

“What and where is flying is forbidden to tell… keep an eye on the air alarms and do not ignore them,” wrote one.

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Monitor,” who runs a Telegram channel with more than 250,000 subscribers, told Kyiv Post that many of his readers were outraged at a perceived information ban, though he said Ignat’s comments “were taken out of context by the media and information channels on Telegram.”

“I did notice some panic among the civilian population, who are used to providing detailed information in a concise and understandable format,” he added:

This panic was also seen on other social media platforms. “Ignat said not to report on what's flying and where,” one person wrote on Twitter. “Now I don't understand anything about the air threat, I'm panicking from the uncertainty.”

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Another wrote: “Now, many Ukrainians on the Internet are curious about only one thing: who is Ignat, and why did he ban the reporting of missiles and drones' flight paths?”

But speaking to Kyiv Post on Friday, Ignat insisted there was no ban on the Telegram channels reporting the details they’ve become known for over the last year, but that his comments earlier in the week had been prompted by a number of newer channels that had begun publishing far more sensitive information.

In particular, he said some Telegram accounts had been posting screenshots showing the flight path of missiles or UAVs which showed when and where they disappeared from radars, thus revealing the location of Ukraine’s air defense systems.

"What does the enemy do with this information? He uses it for future attacks,” Ignat told Kyiv Post.

“And thanks to this information, he learns where we don't have the means to detect and destroy missiles and drones.

 “Then rockets fly, and people die.”

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 According to Ignat, these Telegram channels have appeared just recently. Ukraine's military has begun to address them, saying that revealing this information via Telegram channels harms state security.

 "Channels use data that they take somewhere from military sources they release sensitive screenshots of radars to the public,” he said.

 “They give out more and more sensitive information, more details. What's next? Will they show you where our planes fly?”

 Monitor said he appreciated the concerns of the authorities and viewed the comments as highlighting “necessary information hygiene measures.”

 “We respected the statement of the Air Force command speaker, fully support this position and do not see this as an attempt to hide the real situation with enemy attacks from the Ukrainians.

 “The Monitor team closely monitors that information about threats is published in a format that is understandable to the public, and at the same time meets the requirements for communication during martial law.”

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Comments (2)

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mark a clark
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of course the ukrainian air force doesn't want video shown of the location or possible location of air defense systems. i've seen social media video of air defense launchers as well as tanks and artillery pieces right in among apartment blocks and even under cover on a school playground. this is totally illegal and a war crime. they are using their own people as human shields and when one of these air defense missiles goes awry and hits a civilian structure or debris from a russian missile that was hit falls onto civilians it's always russia's fault. just like the incident in poland last year where two farmers were killed by a ukrainian missile and the market last july where 17 people were killed by an errant air defense missile. zenensky was quick to put the blame on russia when he knew for a fact that it was ukraine that killed these people. i would be willing to bet the market place was hit on purpose to coincide with antony blinken's visit just like the obligatory air raid sirens that went off and always goes off whenever someone from the u.s. or eu visits kiev and there's not a russian plane or missile within hundreds of kilometers. killing a bunch of civilians is just like something zelensky would do to try to influence washington to give up more money or weapons.

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David
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Perhaps all tracks should be published with a suitable time lag, so that they can always shown to terminate 30 - 100 km earlier than the actual location of interception ?

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