Information Warfare: Fact and Fiction of the Russian Ka-52 Helicopter Incident During “West-2017” Drills

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


On the Internet a new video appeared, in which the “erroneous strike” of a helicopter on the audience of military exercises is allegedly shown. The Western Military District already denied the information that the incident happened during the exercises “West-2017”.

As report media agencies report, at the “West-2017” exercises, which Russian and Belarusian military personnel take part in, a Ka-52 helicopter allegedly accidentally fired “air-to-ground” missiles at the audience at the Luzhsky ground near St. Petersburg. Allegedly two journalists suffered serious injuries. The Ukrainian media and some users of social networks reacted to this news with a storm of joy, of course, even without trying to verify the authenticity of the information.

Were there any injuries?

According to a number of media outlets, the victims were hospitalized. It is supposed that they can be members of the media.

The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation denied the information on social networks about “barrage of rockets hitting a crowd of journalists” during the exercises “West-2017”. The department emphasized that there were no incidents that are connected with aircraft in military manoeuvres.

“All the reports on social media about a ‘barrage of rockets hitting a crowd of journalists’ and a large number of casualties are either a deliberate provocation or someone’s personal stupidity,” reported the Ministry of Defence.

The Ministry of Defence emphasized that in the video footage that was posted on social networks an incident was shown that occurred during the performance of helicopters in “ground attack exercises”.

“The targeting system of one of the helicopters erroneously locked on a wrong target. A hit by an unguided air-to-surface missile caused damage to a truck, but no people were hurt,” it was reported by the press service.

Thus, nobody was injured. The same incident happened under other circumstances.

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Russian weapons

The political and military expert of the “Public Diplomacy” fund and representative of the expert-analytical club “Future Now” Sergey Prostakov in comment to the Federal News Agency (FAN) stated that any weapon is, first of all, a means to defeat the enemy, and it a priori constitutes danger. This fully concerns also exercises, where the risk level is if not comparable, then it comes nearer to combat conditions. Thus, some incidents connected with technical failures or human error are probable, as well as any accident in life. Incidents happen in any army.

“The Russian ‘West-2017’ military exercises already before they began became the pretext for a powerful informational attack. Its purposes are the justification of the militarization of Eastern Europe by the NATO bloc under the pretext of the ‘Russian threat’, and to impact relations between Minsk and Moscow. And the fast resonance in the foreign media of information that, based on its truthfulness, is dubious testifies to the fact that their reason is not only the usual pursuit of sensation, but also the desire to discredit as much as possible the Russian Armed Forces and specifically the taking place of joint exercises between Russia and Belarus,” explained Sergey Prostakov.

If to speak about the real state of affairs, noted the military expert, then it is perfectly shown in combat conditions. The army of Russia showed its efficiency and readiness to solve a variety of different tasks during anti-terrorist operations in Syria.

“During its course there were various informational campaigns trying to show the shortcomings of Russian equipment and the backwardness of the army repeatedly occurred. But all of this was only words, which proved to be worthless against the real achievements of Russia in the military sphere. And often the need for propaganda forces the same media that wrote about ‘unusable’ Russian weapons to declare a serious Russian military threat” — Sergey Prostakov added.

Therefore, the military expert emphasized that it is necessary to treat any similar “information planting” concerning the “West-2017” exercises as an element of information war and to react appropriately. This is clearly not the last attempt to discredit the Russian army and relations with Belarus.

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The Russian-Belarusian “West-2017” exercises started on September 14th. About 12,700 military personnel are involved in military maneuvers.

A Ka-52 “Alligator” is a Russian reconnaissance-assault helicopter of the next generation. It is capable of destroying armored and unarmoured equipment, manpower, and air targets on the battlefield.

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