The claim: a collage shows a torn down Ukrainian flag in Mariupol
As Russian bombardment in Ukraine intensifies, some social media users are sharing a photo implying that Russian forces have been successful in the key city of Mariupol.
An Instagram post shared on April 18 shows a collage of a man on top of a building replacing a Ukrainian flag, which has a blue and yellow stripe, with a Soviet flag, which has a red flag and a gold hammer and sickle.
“Illich, steel factory, Mariupol. Victory is red. For the motherland,” reads the post’s caption.
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But these pictures are years old.
The collage images have appeared online for seven years and show a building in the town of Debaltseve, like independent fact-checking organizations. have reported.
USA TODAY reached out to social media users who shared the claim for comment.
The collage dates back to 2015.
The images seen in the social media post date back to at least 2015.
Voxkomm’s video was subtitled, “Prizrak Brigade, Communist militiaman raises Soviet flag in liberated Debaltsevo.” The same scene is similarly described in a tweet. Visegrad24a group that aggregates news from European countries, shared on April 18 with the caption: “This is what the occupation forces did in Debaltseve in 2015 after taking control of the town.”
USA TODAY was unable to independently verify the location of the video. But the description lines up with the events in that region at that time.
The Prizrak Brigade, a separatist group, took part in “some of the toughest battles in pro-Russian eastern Ukraine” since 2014, according to AFP.
In 2014, Russian-backed rebels in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions “proclaimed the creation of ‘people’s republics'” and declared independence from Ukraine, according to ABC News. This triggered a series of conflicts such as the one in Debaltseve, which the pro-Russian forces conquered in 2015.
Our Rating: Missing Context
Based on our research, we rate as LACK OF CONTEXT the claim that a collage shows a Ukrainian flag toppled in Mariupol in the midst of the Russian invasion. The images have appeared on social media since at least 2015 and are not related to the 2022 invasion. USA TODAY was unable to verify the location of the building in the collage, but online posts indicate it is in Debaltseve.
Our data verification sources:
- The Hill, April 26, Russia accepts “in principle” the evacuations of the Mariupol steel plant
- USA TODAY, April 14, Fact Check Summary: What’s True and What’s False About the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
- Logically, on April 22, This image shows the removal of a Ukrainian flag and the raising of a Soviet flag in its place in Mariupol during the 2022 Russian invasion.
- Reuters, April 20, Fact Check: No Soviet Union Flag Photos Captured Amid Russian Invasion Of Ukraine In 2022
- Reuters, February 19, 2015, Ukraine’s Poroshenko says seizure of Debaltseve is contrary to Minsk agreement
- Misbar, April 22, These images are not related to Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine
- Voxcomm International via YouTube, retrieved April 27, About
- Voxcomm International via YouTube, retrieved April 27, Raising the Soviet flag in Donbass
- Visegrad24, April 18 cheep
- Agence France-Presse, May 23, 2015, Separatist commander assassinated in Ukraine
- ABC News, March 4 What are the ‘separatist’ regions of Ukraine at the crux of the Russian invasion?
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