The June 16, 2023, missile strikes on Kyiv and the surrounding regions were not a “provocation” by Ukraine, they were the latest act of aggression by Russia against Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian Air force, Ukraine’s air defenses destroyed 6 Russian Kinzhal ballistic missiles, 6 Kalibr cruise missiles and two reconnaissance drones. Falling debris in the Kyiv region injured seven people, including two children, several dozen houses were damaged or destroyed.

Russian media and Russian social media users are massively circulating stories claiming that the missile strikes on Kyiv and its surrounding area are “a Ukrainian provocation for the African leaders’ visit to Kyiv. According to Russian media, there were no explosions or air raid sirens heard during the time of the African presidents’ visit. South African Presidential Spokesman Vincent Magwenya told South Africa’s News 24 outlet that he didn’t hear or see an explosion. 

The Russkaya Vesna (Russian Spring) website writes that Ukraine organized the entire attack to make Russia look bad. “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s regime organized a provocation with explosions in the sky and Kyiv air defense “defenses”. This psychological operation was organized during the African leaders’ visit to show how the “evil aggressor” attacks, despite the South African President speaking well of Russia” the website writes. Russian publications further cite Vincent Magwenya, who said that all members of the African delegation were “puzzled” when they were returned to the hotel as they had seen people in the streets going about their business as usual. “This is very strange and is, in fact, deliberate disinformation,” Russian websites quote Magwenya as saying.

In fact, Russia did launch missiles on Kyiv and the region on June 16, 2023, this was not a “staging” as Russian media claim, but just another day of typical Russian aggression. According to preliminary Ukrainian Air Force reports, Russia first launched six Kalibr cruise missiles from the Black Sea, followed by six Kinzhal ballistic missiles. The threat of missile strikes is a daily danger for Kyiv and its surroundings, on June 16 the attacks simply  happened during the African leaders’ peace mission, writes the Ukrainian newspaper Livyi Bereh (Left Bank).

Wounded civilians in the Kyiv region and the destruction of residential buildings testifies to the fact that there really was a missile attack. As of 16:50, Kyiv police reported seven victims, including two children, who were injured by falling debris. According to the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper, one of the victims in the Vyshhorodsky district was an 82-year-old woman who was thrown back by a shock wave. In addition, the Ukrainian State Emergency Service official Facebook page features video and photos from the site where missile fragments fell and caused damage. The strike destroyed 3 buildings, 28 private houses, a shop and a car were damaged.

As the strikes on Kyiv began, some pro-Russian Facebook accounts rejoiced that the Ukrainian capital was being hit by ballistic missiles and posted photographs of traces of these missiles in the sky. But a few hours later, those same accounts were claiming that this was not a Russian attack but a “Ukrainian provocation for the African countries’ presidents visit.”

Vincent Magwenya allegedly did not hear explosions, but this in no way refutes the fact of a Russian air attack. According to Reuters, members of the African delegation spent the duration of the air raid in the underground shelter of a Kyiv hotel. After Ukrainian air defenses successfully downed the Russian missiles and the air raid ended, life in the Ukrainian capital might at first glance appear to be completely peaceful and not differ from normal life, perhaps differing from the  African delegation’s idea of what it should be. Twitter users recommended that the South African Presidential Spokesman thank the Ukrainian air defenses crews for guaranteeing the delegation’s safety and reminded him to wage a formal protest to Moscow for attacking the city while the delegation was there.

Speaking at a press briefing European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said the EU hopes that the June 16 Russian attack on Kyiv will make African leaders “realize very clearly who is the aggressor and how the aggressor behaves and what are its intentions.” The EU welcomes any serious and meaningful efforts to achieve peace as “no one wants peace more than the Ukrainian and the Europeans.”,” Stano was quoted as saying by The Kyiv Independent. “There could be peace immediately — when Putin stops terrorizing Ukrainian people and withdraws his murdering, torturing, and looting troops from Ukraine’s territory,” Stano concluded.

StopFake continues to daily debunk fakes about Russia’s war in Ukraine in stories such as “Fake: Ukrainian military shelled Kherson region during residents’ evacuation”, “Fake: Ukraine preparing a nuclear strike against Russia”, “Fake: Ammonia from blown up “Ukrainian DRG” pipeline” covers Ukrainian military the positions.”