This video does not show dead Russian soldiers being honoured in 2022, it is from Ukraine in 2015

·3 min read

In the days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a video circulated online alongside the claim it showed Russian civilians honouring their soldiers killed in the conflict. However, the claim is false. The video is clipped from one posted in 2015, which says it shows Ukrainians paying their respects to soldiers who died fighting in the country's eastern Donbas region in 2015.

"When Russian soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Ukraine conflict returned home, all civilians knelt to greet their heroes," the red, simplified-Chinese text above the video reads.

It was shared here on February 26, 2022 on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

The white text superimposed on the video reads: "In Russia, they respect their soldiers not celebrities."

A screenshot of the misleading post, taken on April 21, 2022

It circulated just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The video was also shared on Facebook and elsewhere on Douyin alongside a similar claim.

However, an analysis of the video shows that, at the one-minute two-second mark and at the one-minute 48-second mark, people on the roadside are holding the Ukrainian flag.

A screenshot of the video in the misleading post with the Ukraine flag circled in orange by AFP, taken on April 21, 2022

Reverse image and keyword searches on Yandex then led to a longer version of the video that was published on YouTube here on April 16, 2015.

The Russian-language title reads: "This is how 'the ukrops' greet their heroes". Ukrops is a colloquial word for pro-Ukrainians or Ukrainians.

The video description, which also contains a lot of slang, reads: "Dead Ukrainian soldiers, near the Donetsk airport (cyborgs) are greeted in the homeland. Look, vata, compare it to your 200 stinky-deadies returning home in garbage bags..."

"Cyborgs" was the nickname given to Ukrainian soldiers who defended Donetsk airport in Donbas against pro-Russian separatists. Vata is a derogatory nickname for Russians.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (left) and the YouTube video from 2015 (right).

A screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (left) and the 2015 YouTube video (right)

An analysis of the YouTube video provides more indications that the video was filmed in Ukraine, not Russia.

Words on a road sign, seen at the 35-second mark of the video, translate to "Stryi" and "Drohobych" -- two cities in the Lviv region in western Ukraine.

A screenshot, taken on April 21, 2022, of the YouTube video with the street sign circled in red by AFP

A black and red flag used by supporters of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) can be seen at the one-minute 49-second mark.

The licence plate of the white car in the video also has the colours of the Ukrainian flag and matches the style of licence plates used in the country, as seen on this specialist website.

A screenshot of the YouTube video, with the red and black flag circled and the car's licence plate magnified by AFP, and a screenshot from worldlicenseplates.com of typical Ukrainian plates

Russian car licence plates include the letters "RUS" or a Russian flag -- neither of which can be seen on the white car's licence plate.

A screenshot comparison of the licence plate in the YouTube video (left) and examples of Russian licence plates from worldlicenseplates.com (right)

A Polish fact-checking organisation has also debunked claims about this video, which was being shared elsewhere in an incorrect context.

Similar clips of people in Ukraine lining the streets, waving flags and kneeling as vehicles carrying soldiers' bodies drive by were also published on YouTube here and here in 2016.

AFP has debunked a wave of misinformation surrounding the conflict in Ukraine.

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