Fact Check

Is This a Video of Russian Nukes Moving Toward the Russo-Finnish Border?

Russian disinformation peddlers have yet to solve the "geolocation problem."

Published April 10, 2023

A video filmed after Finland's accession to NATO shows Russian nuclear weapons near the Finland-Russia border in Vyborg, Russia.

The video is not from Vyborg or anywhere near the Russian border with Finland. The video was taken in another Russian town that regularly sees equipment from the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces being transported to and from military parades in Moscow.

On April 6, 2023, a Twitter account associated with pro-Russian disinformation — @Spriter99880 — tweeted the alarming news that Russian media had reported that strategic nuclear missiles were spotted being transported to Vyborg, Russia, on the border with Finland, following the latter country's accession into NATO. 

For several reasons, this claim is false. First and foremost is the actual location in which the video was filmed. Several internet sleuths geolocated the video's location, placing it in a town just northeast of Moscow named Kolchugino.

Kolchugino is a problematic location for a video purportedly showing nukes moving toward the Finnish border, given that it is a day's drive (without nukes) from Vyborg:

A video of nuclear missiles filmed in Kolchugino is problematic as a source of saber-rattling propaganda for another reason, too — the passage of nuclear-capable missiles through not only this same town but also that very same intersection appears to be a near-annual occurrence. Based on the flag carried on the military vehicles, they belong to Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF). 

At least some of the large missile systems in the video are consistent with what has been identified as the RS-24 Yars rocket launching system, which is capable of launching nuclear warheads. As described in Ukrainian media, these units represent the ground segment of the Russian nuclear triad:

The Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF) of the Russian Federation is a separate branch of the Russian Armed Forces, armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles with mobile and stationary nuclear warheads. These constitute the ground component of the nuclear triad, which also includes submarines and long-range strategic aviation armed with such missiles.

Their passage through the town is typically for parades, not nuclear threats. Every May, the Kremlin hosts the Victory Day Parade in Moscow in commemoration of the Allied victory in World War II. The parade often features Russia's most impressive military weapons and, as such, always includes troops and equipment from the SRF. Myriad videos on Russian-language social media and Youtube demonstrate that the SRF often, if not always, follow a route to and from that parade that takes them through Kolchugino.

A video from May 2015, for example, is described (via Google translate) as "Return of equipment from the parade to Moscow through Kolchugino 13.05.15" and it features the same intersection and equipment, generally speaking, as the viral video in 2023:

Other angles of the 2015 procession were captured, including this one on the Russian-language version of Facebook. A video from a year later, also in early May, shows what is generally the same assortment of vehicles driving through a town identified as Kolchugino:

Videos like these from Kolchugino can be found dating back to 2012. 

They are neither unique nor are they reactions to the geopolitical crises caused by Russia's full scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Specifically, however, this video does not show events anywhere near the Russo-Finnish border. As such, the claims made of these videos in April 2023 are "False."


"56.309722°  39.378333°." Twitter, https://twitter.com/klinger66/status/1644165918312787968. Accessed 10 Apr. 2023.

"False!" Twitter, https://twitter.com/RshThunder/status/1644083565120962569. Accessed 10 Apr. 2023.

"Russia Starts Drills with Yars ICBM Launch Systems with Claimed Effective Range of 11,000 Km." Ukrainska Pravda, https://www.pravda.com.ua/eng/news/2023/03/29/7395575/. Accessed 10 Apr. 2023.

Russian Victory Day 2022 in Full: Military Parade in Moscow as Putin Delivers Speech. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSxdfu3WPSc. Accessed 10 Apr. 2023.

Возвращение Техники с Парада в г. Москва Через Кольчугино 13.05.15. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1EOAa0Se00. Accessed 10 Apr. 2023.

Ракеты в Кольчугино. vk.com, https://vk.com/video240515565_169137322. Accessed 10 Apr. 2023.

Тополя в Кольчугино. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4Ip3Eqjzu0. Accessed 10 Apr. 2023.

Ядерные Ракеты в Кольчугино..3gp. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mP0PZMTmfXg. Accessed 10 Apr. 2023.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.