The claim: A video shows a Russian tank running over a Ukrainian car
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, eyewitness accounts, satellite images and video footage have shown bridges, schools and neighborhoods attacked by Russian forces. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has disputed Russia’s claim that its operation is only aimed at military targets.
Meanwhile, on social media, some have shared a disturbing 25-second clip that purportedly shows a Russian armored vehicle intentionally running over a civilian in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.
“Russian tank swerves to crush Ukrainian car,” reads the caption of a Feb. 25 Facebook video shared by liberal page The Other 98%.
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The video, which generated more than 1.3 million views and 22,000 reactions within a few days, shows what appears to be an armored vehicle taking a sharp turn to flatten a car driving down the road. Conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and David Harris Jr. shared similar videos, amassing millions of additional engagements on Facebook.
The video is authentic. However, military experts told USA TODAY it’s “rather impossible” to know whether the armored vehicle was operated by Russians or Ukrainians.
USA TODAY reached out to The Other 98%, Harris Jr. and Shapiro for comment.
Numerous accounts confirm video is real
Multiple news organizations, as well as an eyewitness, have confirmed the authenticity of the footage. But some details remain unclear.
On Feb. 25, Ukrainian journalist Alexander Khrebet tweeted a video showing a different angle of the crash.
“An armed #Russia’s vehicle ran over a civilian car just on the streets of Obolon district in Kyiv,” he wrote in the tweet.
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A few hours later, Khrebet shared a separate clip of a man being rescued from the crashed car. The Intel Lab, an intelligence and imagery firm, pinpointed the location of the footage to the Obolon district in Kyiv.
Sky News, a British news organization, verified the video. Several other media outlets reported on the incident, and other Twitter users shared similar footage from different viewpoints.
Obolon resident Viktor Berbash told the Agence France-Presse he witnessed the crash.
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“Two armored vehicles were driving along the road, and the second of them deliberately drove into the oncoming lane,” he told the outlet. “It was not by chance, it was for fun, there was no need for this. And it just ran into this car. Stopped, reversed over it again and drove on.”
Other locals shared videos of armored vehicles driving through Obolon on Feb. 25, the same day Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence confirmed Russian forces infiltrated the area, according to reporting from BBC.
On Feb. 25, The Guardian uploaded footage to YouTube showing local residents freeing the man from the wreckage. Rescuers used an ax and crowbar to remove the car door, Business Insider Africa reported, while noting the extent of the driver’s injuries was unclear.
‘Rather impossible’ to know who operated vehicle, military experts say
While many people have described the armored vehicle as a “Russian tank,” some military experts are skeptical.
Petri Mäkelä, a military blogger with expertise identifying Russian vehicles, told USA TODAY the vehicle is a Strela-10 surface-to-air missile launcher, not a tank. That model makes it difficult to know who’s to blame for the collision.
“Both Ukraine and Russia have (Strela-10s) in service so it’s rather impossible to identify it,” he said over email.
Alex Plitsas, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, agreed that the vehicle appears to be a Strela-10, which he described as a “Russian-made armored vehicle.” He said in an email that both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries use the vehicle.
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Both Mäkelä and Plitsas said it’s possible Russian forces took over Ukrainian vehicles.
In a Feb. 24
Facebook post, the Ukrainian Armed Forces accused the Russian military of seizing two vehicles and changing into the uniform of the Ukrainian military, according to a Google translation. USA TODAY could not independently confirm whether such takeovers have occurred in Kyiv.
In a Feb. 25 Twitter thread, Russian military expert Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Eurasia Program, said the vehicle shown in the video is “almost certainly Ukrainian.”
“There were multiple videos of this Strela-10 driving around the Obolon area of Kyiv. It wouldn’t make any sense for it to be Russian,” he wrote. “If it was, you would see a large Russian tank or motorized rifle unit with it, and it certainly would not be the first vehicle you saw.
“I have no idea why it ran over that car, but people immediately jumped to conclusions that weren’t supported by the limited evidence.”
Elijah J. Magnier, a veteran war-zone correspondent, tweeted that the vehicle is a Ukrainian Strela-10, noting it is unlikely Russia would occupy Kyiv with a single vehicle.
However, that conclusion isn’t the consensus. Pavel Luzin, an expert in Russian politics and defense affairs, told USA TODAY in an email that the color of the vehicle “seems to be typical for the Russian armed forces.”
Our rating: Missing context
Based on our research, we rate the claim that a video shows a Russian tank running over a Ukrainian car MISSING CONTEXT, because without additional details it could be misleading.
The video, which shows a car being run over in the Obolon district in Kyiv, has been verified. Military experts say the vehicle in the video is likely a Strela-10, which is used by both Russian and Ukrainian armed forces, making it difficult to identify. The claim that the vehicle was operated by Russian forces is unproven.
Our fact-check sources:
- Alexander Khrebet, Feb. 25, Tweet
- Alexander Khrebet, Feb. 25, Tweet
- The Intel Lab, Feb. 25, Tweet
- Google Earth, accessed Feb. 28
- Sky News, Feb. 25, Twitter thread
- NBC News, Feb. 25, Videos show military vehicle crushing a moving car in Ukraine, driver surviving
- Channel 4 News, Feb. 25, Tweet
- Business Insider, Feb. 26, Viral video shows elderly Ukrainian man miraculously survived after the car he was driving was run over by a Russian armored vehicle ‘for fun’
- Franak Viačorka, Feb. 25, Tweet
- Ragip Soylu, Feb. 25, Tweet
- Agence France-Presse, Feb. 25, Fierce street battle as first Russian troops hit Kyiv
- BBC, Feb. 25, Videos show armoured vehicles rolling through Kyiv district
- The Guardian, Feb. 25, Youtube video
- Business Insider Africa, Feb. 26, Viral video shows elderly Ukrainian man miraculously survived after the car he was driving was run over by a Russian armored vehicle ‘for fun’
- Petri Mäkelä, Feb. 26, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Alex Plitsas, Feb. 26, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Ukrainian Armed Forces, Feb. 24, Facebook post
- Google Translate, Feb. 28, Translation
- Rob Lee, Feb. 25, Twitter thread
- Elijah J. Magnier, Feb. 25, Tweet
- Pavel Luzin, Feb. 27, Email exchange with USA TODAY
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