FACT CHECK: Do These Images Show A Russian Soldier Planting A Soviet Flag In Mariupol In 2022?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows a Russian soldier installing a Soviet flag in Mariupol, Ukraine.

Verdict: False

The images predate the current conflict in Mariupol. The photos have been circulating since 2015 during Russia’s war in the Donbas region.

Fact Check: 

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Thursday that Russian forces had captured the city of Mariupol despite Ukrainian forces still reportedly holding ground in the city, according to Reuters. An image shared on Facebook claims to show a compilation of photos of a Russian soldier taking down a Ukrainian flag and planting a Soviet flag over the city.

“The Russian invaders are raising flags of the Soviet Union in Mariupol,” reads the image’s caption. “Don’t forget what Putin’s main goal is: The restoration of the Soviet Union.” Some iterations of the post claim the pictures were taken at a steel plant in the city.

The photos predate the current conflict in Ukraine. A reverse image search revealed they appeared in a March 2015 YouTube video from user VOXKOMM International. “Prizrak Brigade, Communist militiaman raises the Soviet flag on freed Debaltsevo,” reads the video’s description.

Debaltseve is located 180 kilometers northeast of Mariupol, according to Google Maps. Check Your Fact could not independently verify if the video is actually from Debaltseve, though pro-Russian separatists seized the town in February 2015 after Ukrainian forces retreated from the area, according to The New York Times. (RELATED: No, This Is Not Footage Of A Ukrainian Missile Blowing Up A Russian Naval Vessel)

Several videos and photos have been misattributed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Check Your Fact previously debunked a video from earlier in the conflict that allegedly showed an intense firefight between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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