In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, several pieces of disinformation were circulated online in an attempt to justify the attack. For example, some social media users spread the false claim that Russia invaded Ukraine in an attempt to destroy U.S. biolabs.
On Feb. 25, we encountered another video that attempted to support the notion that Russia had a secret purpose to attack Ukraine. The video, which was circulated on Telegram and showed a group of people dancing, was shared with the following caption: "Russian & Ukraine Soldiers Are Dancing Together. This is not one army attacking another army. This is Russian forces taking out Deepstate / cabal."
There's no evidence that any of the soldiers pictured here are part of the Ukrainian army. More importantly, this video predates Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Russia launched its military invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, local time. The above-displayed video, however, had been online since at least Feb. 18. While this video was shared after the attack began as supposed evidence that it wasn't as serious as it appeared, that simply wasn't the case. In reality, the video was filmed prior to the invasion.
Lead Stories was able to track the clip back to an Instagram post from chp.crimea, a Crimean News channel.
BARANOVICHI, Belarus — Russian and Belarusian military forces staged a mock battle on Saturday, with warplanes, tanks and rocket launchers pounding a muddy, wind-swept military training ground around 70 miles north of the Ukrainian border.
The military maneuvers, planned long in advance, came on the penultimate day of a 10-day joint exercise involving the biggest deployment of Russian troops on the territory of Belarus, a neighbor and close ally, since the end of the Cold War.
A few days after this mock battle training exercise ended, Belarus aided Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.
The video does not show Ukrainian and Russian soldiers dancing together in the days after Russia's invasion of Ukraine began. It is not evidence that the military conflict was made up or less serious than it appeared, and it is not evidence that Russia's attack was aimed at a "deep state." The clip shows Russian and Belarussian forces dancing together in the days before they launched an unprovoked attack on Ukraine.
Byrnes, Jesse. “Belarus Targeted with Dozens of Sanctions over Russian Invasion.” TheHill, 24 Feb. 2022, https://thehill.com/policy/international/595727-belarus-targeted-with-dozens-of-sanctions-over-russian-invasion.
Fact Check: Video Of Soldiers Dancing Predates February 2022 Russian Invasion Of Ukraine | Lead Stories. https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2022/02/fact-check-video-of-soldiers-dancing-predates-russian-invasion-of-ukraine.html. Accessed 25 Feb. 2022.
Higgins, Andrew. “Joint Drills by Russia and Belarus Will End Sunday, after a Mock Battle near Ukraine’s Border.” The New York Times, 19 Feb. 2022. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/20/world/europe/russia-and-belarus-stage-a-pretend-battle-as-the-threat-of-a-real-one-looms-in-neighboring-ukraine.html.
ДАЦЮК, Надежда. “Снимали стресс: в Крыму после учений военные зажигательно станцевали лезгинку.” crimea.kp.ru, 18 Feb. 2022, https://www.crimea.kp.ru/daily/27366.5/4547966/.
Новости, Р. И. А. “Военнослужащие ЮВО начали возвращаться из Крыма после плановых учений.” РИА Новости, 20220215T1315, https://ria.ru/20220215/ucheniya-1772890804.html.