How did a viral video fuel false claims the war in Ukraine is staged?

A Ukrainian soldier of the 53rd brigade approaches his position at the frontline close to Donetsk, Ukraine
A Ukrainian soldier of the 53rd brigade approaches his position at the frontline close to Donetsk, Ukraine Copyright LIBKOS/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Sophia Khatsenkova with AFP
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At one point, a woman in the video appears to be holding a camera leading some social media users to falsely believe the Ukrainian Armed Forces are staging footage of the conflict.

A viral video showing men dressed in combat uniforms pulling an injured person to safety has been shared in multiple languages from Russian to English and French on various social media platforms. 


In the background, a woman holding a camera appears, leading some social media users to believe the Ukrainian Armed Forces are staging footage of the conflict.war.

"The militants are very brave and courageous. No one is being abandoned... And, oh, sorry, the camera person got into the shot, let's do it again! Oscar-worthy actors serve in the [Armed Forces of Ukraine," said one Facebook account that shared the clip.

"If Ukraine can't win on the battlefield, they'll win on TV, which is almost good enough," tweeted a pro-Russian X account.

The clip has a watermark of a pro-Russian military Telegram channel. Euronews found the video was first posted on this account at the end of July. 

By doing a reverse image search, we found the same video posted on TikTok by an account that claims to provide training to the Ukrainian civilian population. 

The caption of the video reads: “It is better to test yourself and really assess your strengths during educational tasks.”

@yar0slav_yar0slav Краще випробувати себе та реально оцінити свої сили, під час навчальних задач…#кременчук#вишкіл#україна#дфтг12♬ оригінальний звук - Ярослав

The main clue is in the hashtags of the video which include a mention of Kremenchuk, a city in central Ukraine on the banks of the Dnipro River, and another hashtag #DFTG12. 

We looked up the latter and we found the Facebook page of an Educational Training Centre located in the city of Kremenchuk. 

According to its description, the centre gives basic military training to civilians. 

We also found the original video, published on 24 July on the centre's Facebook page. 

The head of the training centre told AFP that "the video was taken during the final part of a five-week training course. The participants practised pulling a wounded man out of a combat zone so they could stabilize him."


In June, Russia hit a cluster of buildings in a missile strike on Kremenchuk in central Ukraine – exactly one year after a deadly attack on a shopping mall in the same city. 

At least 22 people were killed at the Amstor shopping mall during a Russian missile strike on 27 June, 2022.

The false claim that Russian attacks in Ukraine are staged is a common pro-Kremlin propaganda narrative. 

Recently, The Cube debunked a video implying the attack on a cathedral in Odesa, southern Ukraine, was fake because a woman in the clip can apparently be seen picking up the debris too easily.

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