FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show Russian Citizens Fleeing Crimea After A Ukrainian Strike?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows Russian citizens fleeing Crimea after a Ukrainian strike.

Verdict: Misleading

While there are reports of Russian citizens leaving Crimea after explosions at a Russian airbase, the image is from July and predates these reports.

Fact Check:

A series of explosions rocked a Russian airbase in Crimea last week, destroying several planes and killing at least one person, according to The Associated Press. While Ukraine has not officially taken responsibility for the strike, a Ukrainian presidential adviser said the explosion was either caused by a long-range weapon or Ukrainian guerillas in Crimea, the outlet reported.

The Facebook post, which contains a screenshot of a tweet that features a photo of a traffic jam, claims to show Russian tourists fleeing Crimea. “Subscribers report that there is a huge traffic jam on the Kerch bridge from those who want to leave Crimea,” reads text included in the image.

Through a reverse image search, Check Your Fact found that the image predates the recent explosions in Crimea. The image was published on a Russian website on July 16 with the title, “Why was traffic on the Crimean bridge completely blocked last night[?]” (RELATED: Are Russia And Azerbaijan At War With Each Other?)

The article stated that the traffic on the bridge was blocked in both directions. Reuters was able to geolocate the image and found that the image showed people going into Crimea, not attempting to leave the area.

Videos of Russian citizens leaving Crimea did flood social media after the explosions last week, according to The Washington Post. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence verified Twitter account posted a video that showed the explosion and a Russian citizen attempting to leave the peninsula.

“Unless they want an unpleasantly hot summer break, we advise our valued russian guests not to visit Ukrainian Crimea,” reads the tweet. “Because no amount of sunscreen will protect them from the hazardous effects of smoking in unauthorised areas.”

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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