Ukraine invasion: False claims the war is a hoax go viral

Ukraine invasion: False claims the war is a hoax go viral

Nearly two weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the flow of false or misleading information about the war hasn’t let up and now there are some outlandish theories being shared online.

Some have begun to circulate claims the war is a hoax, a media fabrication, or has been exaggerated by the West in terms of its scale.

We’ve examined some of them.

False claims about “crisis actors”

A video of a young woman and a young man having fake blood applied to their faces has racked up millions of views on multiple platforms.

It is shared as supposed evidence that the war in Ukraine is a hoax and civilian victims are actually “crisis actors” – people hired to act out scenes from an attack.

This image is from a 2020 Ukrainian TV series and unrelated to the Russian invasion

But the video is unrelated to the war. It was shot in 2020 on the production set of Ukrainian TV series Contamin.

The male actor can be seen in behind-the-scenes images from the set tweeted in December 2020.

Moving corpse

A video of a news reporter in front of multiple body bags has gone viral on several major social networks, and has been spread widely by pro-Kremlin accounts.

Seconds into the clip, one of the body bags starts moving, a man removes the cover and is attended to by a photographer.

Social media posts claim the video was shot in Ukraine and proves the war is either a hoax or manufactured by “Western propaganda”.

Video of a climate change protest in Vienna is being presented as fake Ukrainian victims from the war

But the claims are false. The video clip is from a climate change protest in Vienna in early February, as reported by Austrian newspaper Osterreich. Organised by “Friday for Future” climate activists, the depiction of body bags aimed to highlight the danger of carbon emissions to human life.

The same video was shared by conspiracy groups last month with false claims that it showed a Covid “crisis actor”.

False wooden guns claim

A screenshot of a Fox News broadcast showing two Ukrainian men holding what appear to be wooden guns has gone viral.

It is often accompanied by false claims that the war in Ukraine is a hoax and the fact that they are not real guns is proof of this.

Fake guns were given to civilian volunteers willing to train to defend their communities before the war

The footage actually dates back to mid-February, before the war began.

It was taken during a training course provided by the far-right Azov battalion for civilian volunteers in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv willing to defend themselves and their communities in case of a Russian invasion.

Steven Seagal is not fighting in Ukraine

A false tweet – seemingly sent by CNN’s verified Twitter account – claims US actor Steven Seagal, who is a dual US-Russian national, has been spotted “among Russian special forces” near Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv.

Along with ordinary users, the tweet has been picked up by influential accounts with huge followings, including US podcast host Joe Rogan, who shared it with his 14 million followers on Instagram.

A false tweet about Steven Seagal fighting in Ukraine was shared by Joe Rogan

But Mr Seagal is not fighting alongside Russian forces in Ukraine, and the tweet was probably generated by one of the multiple free online tools that enables users to create fake – but authentic-looking – tweets from verified accounts.

The actor, 69, told Fox News last week he looked at both countries as “one family” and hoped for a “positive, peaceful resolution”.

CNN said the image was fabricated and it had “never reported anything like this”.

Mr Rogan later deleted his Instagram post.

Russian diplomat shares false tweet

A Russian diplomat has shared screenshots showing a fabricated story about a journalist being killed in Ukraine during the Russian invasion.

“How to make a fake… colleagues, beware, the main battle is not in Ukraine, it’s with lies and fakes of MSM” tweeted Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, referring to “mainstream media” as MSM.

His post was accompanied by a tweet alleging that CNN had reported on the death of “Bernie Gores” in Ukraine, after sharing a story about the same man’s demise in Afghanistan during the Taliban takeover last year.

An image of YouTuber Jordie Jordan was used with a false identity to claim he was reported as dead in Ukraine by CNN

But the screenshots presented as proof of fabrication come from fake CNN accounts – both of which have since been suspended by Twitter. And the man presented in the images as Bernie Gores is in fact a YouTuber, who is very much alive, called Jordie Jordan.

A CNN representative told fact-checkers from Reuters the posts were “absolute fiction”.

False footage
Different versions of a video of a large crowd being asked by a director to run and scream in fear have racked up hundreds of thousands of views on multiple platforms.

It is claimed the video was leaked from Ukraine, suggesting some of the distressing scenes run by media outlets are actually fabricated.

Behind-the-scenes footage from the film Invasion Planet Earth is being shared in the context of the Ukraine invasion

But the video was actually shot in Birmingham’s Victoria Square in 2013 for the sci-fi film Invasion Planet Earth, which at the time was titled Kaleidoscope Man.

The film’s director, Simon Cox, said on Twitter he was “shocked to see my footage being used like this”.

Vice-president’s wife didn’t join army

Social media users have been sharing an image allegedly showing the wife of a ‘Ukrainian vice-president’ who has joined the country’s armed forces to fight the Russian invasion.

However, Ukraine does not have a vice-president.

Image caption,Twitter users have wrongly claimed that the woman in the picture is the Ukrainian vice-president’s wife

Another version of the claim doing the rounds on Twitter wrongly suggests that the woman in the picture is Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska.

Fact-checkers Logically have ascertained that the photograph is an image of a Ukrainian soldier from August 2021.

The original photo was taken during a rehearsal for a military parade in Kyiv.


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