The Claim and Our Verdict
- The claim:A photo was shared Feb. 24, 2022, on Twitter, along with a claim that a Ukrainian girl with a rifle was heading to the battlefield of the Russia-Ukraine war.
- A reverse image search found that the photo was shared March 2020 on the Russian social media network VKontake, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
- The girl in the photo is Russian, not Ukrainian. She told the Associated Press Fact Check in February 2022 that the photo was taken in March 2020 and that she was holding a fake gun. In addition, she currently lives in Russia, not Ukraine.
- Our ruling: We rate the claim as FALSE.
Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, 2022. A photo was shared Feb. 24, 2022, on Twitter, along with the caption, “A beautiful and brave Ukrainian girl. I believe that many people will bless you to survive.” Many people commented, “such a young and beautiful woman goes to war,” “you push others to the battlefield and hide from a distance to cheer for them. Do you really know what she will face” and “fight for freedom.” It suggests that the girl with a rifle in the photo was heading to the battlefield of the Russia-Ukraine war.
As of the issuance of this report, the tweet had been retweeted 93 times, and had received 727 likes.
A reverse image search found that the photo was shared March 27, 2020, on the Russian social media network VKontake, prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
The original VKontake post, written in Russian, translates to English as, “I have been sitting opposite to you today. I like you very much, but I am afraid to say hello to you. I hope I can find you.” A user named “Gladkikh Ekaterina” said in a comment that she was the girl in the photo.
HKBU Fact Check found a user’s home page on Instagram, also named “Gladkikh Ekaterina.” An Instagram story published by this account includes the clarification on the misleading photo.
A comparison between the photo shared in the claim and the photos posted on the Instagram account “Gladkikh Ekaterina,” with corresponding outfit and body features of the girl in these photos, shows these photos feature the same person.
According to Ekaterina’s Instagram profile, she claims she is Russian, not Ukrainian.
A further keyword search found that Ekaterina clarified to the AP Fact Check in February 2022 that the photo was taken in March 2020 and that she was holding a fake gun when she was returning from a photo shoot. She added, “I live in Russia, not in Ukraine.”
To sum up, the photo has been circulating online since at least March 27, 2020. It is not associated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. The girl in the photo was holding a fake gun. In addition, she is Russian, not Ukrainian.
Therefore, we rate the claim as FALSE.
- Twitter, tweet, Feb. 24, 2022.
- VKontakte, post, March 27, 2020.
- Instagram, home page of Gladkikh Ekaterina.
- AP Fact Check, Image of girl with gun is an old meme, not recent Ukraine photo, Feb. 15, 2022.