Crisis actors, fake bodies and wooden guns – lies claiming the war in Ukraine is a hoax

Fabricated posts with photos and videos claiming to prove the war in Ukraine is fake, or simply to confuse, have gone viral on social media.

There were fears that Russia launched bogus information campaigns at the start of the invasion last week after targeting media and communication centers in Ukraine.

And the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Russia is “probably” stepping up claims that Ukraine is developing nuclear or biological weapons as a “hindsight justification” for its invasion.

“Since late February, there has been a notable escalation in Russian accusations that Ukraine is developing nuclear or biological weapons,” a Defense Ministry statement said.

“These narratives have been around for a long time but are currently likely being amplified as part of a retrospective justification for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

The BBC has verified a number of posts claiming to “prove” the war in Ukraine is a fake or a hoax.

Among them is a video of a man and a woman having fake blood applied to their faces in Ukraine – simulating injuries.

The claim accompanying the footage is that crisis actors – civilians claiming to be victims of war – are being deployed to simulate war in Ukraine.

In fact, the footage was taken behind the scenes of a TV series called Contamin in December 2020.

A similar story is behind the video of a director urging people to “run and scream in fear” through a cityscape. Those sharing the footage say it proves the video of civilians in Ukraine is faked.

In fact, the video was shot in Birmingham in 2013 for the film Invasion Planet Earth.

Another video purports to show a journalist reporting in Ukraine against a backdrop of a field of black body bags. As the report continues, one of the bags begins to move and a “corpse” rises and walks away.

In fact, the video was shot during a protest against climate change in Vienna, where protesters pretended to be dead to show the impact of global warming.

In another clip – taken from Fox News – Ukrainian men are shown brandishing wooden guns.

Those sharing the screenshot claim it proves the war isn’t real.

In fact, the report aired earlier this year before the conflict began and shows civilians training to defend Ukraine.

In some cases, mainstream media accounts are faked or spoofed to spread lies.

One story uses fake CNN Twitter accounts – since deleted – to claim that a CNN reporter was killed in Ukraine. The man in the picture is actually a YouTube gamer.

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The tweet aims to show that the media is falsifying death accounts as part of a hoax war narrative.

Other posts shared news that actor Steven Seagal is fighting alongside Russian special forces in Ukraine – that’s not the case – or that the wife of the Ukrainian vice president, or even the first lady of Ukraine are fighting in the war – this is not the case.

German broadcaster DW has also debunked a number of videos.

Among them is a video of “Russian soldiers” celebrating the war by singing and dancing. In fact, the singing and dancing soldiers were an Uzbek military band at a concert in 2018.

The video of Russian jets launching attacks on Ukraine was actually taken from the video game Arma Three. A formation of fighter jets flying over Ukraine was actually caught at an air show near Moscow in 2020.

Another video of Russian paratroopers falling in Kharkiv during the invasion was actually filmed in Russia in 2016.

A TikTok video of an explosion in Ukraine the day before the invasion was actually a video of a gas station explosion in Siberia in 2021.

Fact-checking organization Complete fact has tips for spotting fake news.

They say, “The first thing to ask yourself is: Does this sound plausible? While it’s hard to respond to something as unpredictable as an invasion, there are still things you can do. attention. Does anything in the pictures look obvious out of place?”

They say you can search for airplanes or other military equipment from the wrong era, or listen to the voices and accents of those in the video.

If they don’t speak in Russian or Ukrainian, that will be a big clue.

They say to search Google, Twitter and TikTok for phrases used in the video – which will help find the original footage, or search for what the footage shows – such as “huge explosion”, “building fire”, etc.

They add: “Although you cannot reverse video search on Google, as you can check where the pictures come, you can do something similar using still images of key parts of the video.

“We use a free extension from Google called InVID Verification Plugin to do it fairly quickly.

“Once you’ve added the extension, click on ‘Keyframes.’ image search.

Full Fact also invites people to check the metadata of shared files using a site like Metadata2goreading comments critically to judge what others are saying about the case and following fact checkers.

They say, “We checked many videos affirming to take in Ukraine during the invasion, and going straight to the fact checkers to see if they’ve already checked anything is a good place to start. When we reverse image search screenshots for example, it often leads us to a fact checker writing in another language who has already checked the clip, but whom we would never have found by searching for words in English.”