Photo of Wooden Guns Sparks Baseless Claims That Invasion of Ukraine Is Fake

  • A photo of Ukrainians training with wooden guns has sparked wild claims over social media.
  • The image, which aired briefly on Fox News, was misconstrued as a sign that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is fake.
  • The photo was taken before the invasion, when Ukrainian civilians trained with replica weapons.

A photo of two Ukrainian men holding wooden replica guns has sparked baseless claims on social media that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is staged.

The photo appeared during a Fox News broadcast on Saturday about Ukrainian civilians taking up arms against Russian forces. It was then reposted by social media users, some of whom claimed the fighting depicted in media reports was exaggerated or false.

One Twitter user’s post of the photo received over 1,880 retweets and 4,000 likes. In a separate tweet on Monday, the same user wrote that “Putin never actually invaded in the first place.”

The image of the two men with wooden guns was taken during a drill in Kharkiv before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform, per the Associated Press.

“Two men with rifle cutouts take cover behind a corner during the territorial defence drill for civilians given by Azov Regiment veterans under the slogan ‘Don’t Panic! Get Ready!,'” read the caption on Ukrinform. The caption states the photo was taken on February 19, five days before Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a military assault on Ukraine.

Numerous media outlets, including Insider, have reported for weeks that Ukrainian volunteers had used wooden replicas of guns to train against a Russian invasion. However, the false claims about the photo continued to abound on social media as of Monday evening.

“Fox News putting out fake news too cardboard weapons really come on,” wrote one Twitter user who posted the image.

“More fake news entertainment to keep the public terrified!” wrote another user.

Fox News did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Fighting in Ukraine is set to enter its sixth day on Tuesday as Russian forces look to take major population centers in the country’s east, south, and north, including the capital of Kyiv. According to local media reports, Ukraine — which has enlisted and armed civilians — claims to have killed over 5,300 Russian soldiers and destroyed hundreds of military vehicles.

Satellite photos from Maxar Technologies released on Monday showed a Russian military convoy north of Kyiv that stretches for at least 40 miles, Reuters reported.

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