A video that purports to show two Ukrainian soldiers intimidating a Muslim woman for overtaking their military vehicle has been debunked as Russian propaganda using photos and satellite imagery.
Dashcam footage allegedly taken on March 24 shows two soldiers in Ukrainian army uniform pulling over the vehicle for a “traffic offense.” When the soldiers hear the woman is a Russian speaker they call her a “pig” and fire their weapons next to the car — the woman has a child with her in the vehicle.
🇺🇦military stop a woman with her baby for allegedly violating traffic rules. After hearing her speak Russian & finding out she is a Muslim, the "brave" Ukrainian: shouts at, threatens, insults her, calls her "pig", scares her baby, fires several shots. #TruthonUkraine @mfa_russia pic.twitter.com/2Gnp5dsVpd
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) March 27, 2023
Russian social media channels posted the video with captions like “Once a Nazi always a Nazi” And referencing that March 24 was the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The video immediately aroused suspicion and internet sleuths quickly discovered that the video was taken east of Donetsk in territory held by Russia without interruption since 2014.
Just three days after the footage was released, the Twitter account GeoConfirmed alleged the video was taken 18 miles (30 kilometers) behind the frontline and found the exact spot by comparing trees and pylons that are seen in the video.
"2 Ukrainians stopped a car and fires a gun to scare a women and child."
❌This is not Ukrainian military❌
This video is made 30 km's behind the frontline.
Russian disinformation, but geolocation by @PStyle0ne1 is on point and GeoConfirmed.
— GeoConfirmed (@GeoConfirmed) March 27, 2023
GeoConfirmed’s Twitter thread detailing their findings went viral and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs removed the video from their Twitter feed.
Then an interested person, who is based in nearby Donetsk, visited the site and shared a photograph. With a video still compared side-by-side with the photo, it’s clear the branches are a match.
Further evidence came when dashcam footage of another vehicle driving from southeast Donetsk to the site of the fake video was confirmed by comparing the car’s journey with street view imagery from Yandex Maps
As noted by Bellingcat, once the video had been thoroughly debunked even pro-Russian commentators didn’t shy away from condemning the blatant propaganda.
“The video is a fake,” writes the pro-Russian Telegram channel Zpiski Veterana. “Our guys aren’t training well. In carrying out such information operations, they still need to learn and learn.”
The Russian Embassy to the U.K. has left the video on its page but Twitter has slapped an “added context” label to it.
“Open-source intelligence reports have confirmed that this video was taken in territory in Donetsk that is currently occupied by Russian troops, making this certainly a hoax, as there are no Ukrainian troops in the area,” it reads.
Fighting continues to rage in Ukraine with Russia increasing its shelling of Bakhmut, a city north of Donetsk, and also launching a drone attack on the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa in the last 24 hours.