Ukraine War Fact Check: We Analyzed These Videos and Images

Misleading videos and images are the mainstays of misinformation. By engaging with visual evidence under false pretenses – perhaps because it has been stripped of context or linked to a misleading caption – viewers’ perception of reality can be distorted. And, when global conflicts or crises unfold, the consequences of such widespread misunderstandings could have disastrous effects.

Below are seven videos and images that circulated widely during the 2022 war in Ukraine.

They include footage from a military simulation video game that spread like wildfire digitally because people mistakenly believed it showed Ukrainian and Russian forces fighting, as well as several posts that attempted minimize the violence or convince people that Russia’s attack on Ukraine was justified.

Videos and photos are listed in no particular order.


Did the “crisis actors” make a propaganda video in Ukraine?

No. Claims that photos or videos supposedly showed ‘crisis actors’, or people claiming to be in crisis in Ukraine, were part of a disinformation campaign that ultimately tried to increase people’s mistrust to anyone who considered war a serious matter. For example, the video below was not related to the 2022 conflict at all; it was years-old, behind-the-scenes footage from the set of a sci-fi adventure movie.


Does this video show a Ukrainian tank crossing a Russian barrier in 2022?

Nope. This video – which racked up millions of views on TikTok in February and March 2022 – was actually shot in 2014 during the Battle of Mariupol, shortly after Russia annexed Crimea.


Did Zelenskyy ‘trolle’ Putin for supposedly fake video?

Not proven. This rumor stems from two video clips: one allegedly showing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hand passing through a microphone, and the other showing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy touching a similar microphone and moving it to the side. However, the “ghost microphone” illusion was caused by poor quality video (not the result of an elaborate prank to fool viewers), and there wasn’t enough evidence to say for sure why. Zelenskyy’s video showed him touching his microphone.


Is this a real photo of Zelenskyy holding a swastika shirt?

Nope. The image in the middle is not an authentic photo of the Ukrainian president, who is Jewish. Rather, it is part of a concerted effort by Russian propagandists to portray him as a Nazi in order to justify Russia’s invasion of the country. Someone created the image of the swastika by modifying an authentic photo of Zelenskyy holding the national team shirt of Ukraine before Euro 2020.


Is this an authentic photo of strollers that people left at a train station in Poland to help Ukrainian refugees?

Yes. This photograph was taken by Francesco Malavolta, a photojournalist covering the conflict in Ukraine. He shared the photo on Twitter with a caption in Italian that translates to “Strollers left at train station for women arriving from Ukraine with babies”.

Parents in Poland left their pushchairs at train stations for Ukrainian mothers who fled with their children. Damn it’s interesting


Does this video really show Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanging gunfire?

Nope. Rather, this video was from a military simulation video game called ArmA3.


Is this a real report on the invasion of Ukraine by Russia?

❌ Not at all. This video which shows a journalist in front of dozens of body bags was actually taken in Austria on February 4, 2022 (about two weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine), and it shows environmental activists (alive). Nonetheless, social media users shared the clip as if it were taken in Ukraine and showed a journalist speaking about the war’s death toll in front of real casualties.

— The Snopes editors contributed to this report.


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John C. Dent