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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C

Debunked: This video does not show Ukrainian soldiers surrendering 'without a fight'

The video has been shared widely on social media with inaccurate descriptions.

For general Factchecks not about Covid (2)

A VIDEO SHARED widely on social media purporting to show Ukrainian soldiers surrendering without a battle is actually showing a transfer of prisoners. 

A video shared on Twitter from an account called France Résistance shows an aerial view of a group of tanks with white flags attached parked among fields.

The video also shows two lines of soldiers walking in opposite directions to each other.

The post accompanying the video is written in French and English and says:

“Ukrainian soldiers don’t want to die for Zelensky. They surrender without a fight!”

The tweet includes a laughing emoji.

The post has been quoted close to a hundred times and retweeted over 1,200 times. In total the video has been viewed over 138,000 times.

The video has also been shared by a number of different accounts with similar captions on Twitter and Facebook. One Facebook account with Cork as a location shared the video with the following caption:

“The mass surrender of Ukrainians. They gather in large columns under the white flag. Better stay alive and return to their families than die for western values.”

Prisoner exchange

However, the video does not show soldiers surrendering but an exchange of prisoners between Ukrainian forces and the Wagner paramilitary group which has been fighting on behalf of Russia.

A YouTube video from the British paper The Telegraph shows drone footage of the prisoner exchange, which took place in May. While the angle of the footage is different from the video shared on social media, the position of the tanks and movement of the soldiers is identical.

The description of the video says it was released by the Wagner Group.

“The Wagner Group exchanged prisoners of war with Ukraine on Thursday, and released a video and drone shots showing men in uniform being passed from one side to another in an unidentified location,” the description reads.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff said on Thursday that they had secured the release of 106 captured Ukrainian soldiers in a prisoner exchange with Russia.

As well as the Telegraph post, the same video was shared in Telegram channel claiming to be the official channel of the recruitment branch of Wagner. The description of the video (in Russian) says “Exchange of prisoners 05/25/23″.

 The Journal’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here.