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Fact Check-Video of soldiers dancing predates Russian invasion; Ukraine’s conflict is not a ‘cover-up’ for fighting the ‘deep state’

A video of soldiers dancing has been described online as if showing Russian and Ukrainian soldiers dancing together. Some social media users have shared this as evidence for the baseless allegation that the two countries are united in fighting the ‘deep state’ (a conspiracy theory term used to refer to a supposed cabal of powerful elites with dark motives) and that the ongoing war is therefore a cover-up.

The clip was shot before the Russian invasion and there is no evidence that Ukrainian soldiers were present at the scene.

The “deep state” is a key component of the widely debunked QAnon conspiracy theory which espouses that former U.S. President Donald Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of child-sex predators, including prominent Democrats, Hollywood elites and other “deep state” allies ( here ).

One version of the clip was posted on Facebook ( here ) and has since been shared more than 400 times. Its caption reads: “Russian & Ukraine soilders dancing together. Bye cabal.”

Another iteration, which has been shared more than 40 times ( here ), has a similar caption: “RUSSIAN & UKRAINE SOLDIERS ARE DANCING TOGETHER. This is not one army attacking another army. This is Russian forces taking out Deepstate/cabal.”

Matching claims have been made on Facebook ( here and here ) and on Twitter ( here ), ( here ).

However, the footage was shot prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to local reports in which the video features ( here ), ( here ). Both outlets sourced the clip to an Instagram page ( here ) that uploaded it on Feb. 18. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine did not begin until Feb. 24.

Both news reports and the Instagram page say it was shot in a Crimean village called Podgornoye in the peninsula’s Bakhchisarai district. Reuters could not independently verify the location.

Reuters saw Russian Telegram channels and social media describe the dance as the Lezginka, a folk dance originating among the Lezgin people of the Caucasus ( here ), ( here ).

There is no evidence that any of the soldiers pictured dancing or onlooking are part of the Ukrainian army.

It is unlikely there was any Ukrainian military presence in Crimea, since Russia annexed the country from Ukraine in March 2014 ( here ). More information on Crimea’s annexation is viewable ( here )

As previously reported by Reuters ( here ), given Crimea’s history within Russia, many residents feel closer to Moscow than to Kiev.

Feb. 18 was just days after Russia confirmed that it had withdrawn some of its forces from Crimea. See reports from Reuters ( here ) and other outlets ( here ) and ( here ).

Extensive Reuters reporting ( www.reuters.com/places/ukraine ), ( here ), ( here ), and ( here ) evidences this is not a “fake” or “cover-up war”. At least 102 civilians in Ukraine have been killed and 304 injured since Russia launched its invasion ( here ).

A Reuters article detailing the events that led to the current conflict in Ukraine since the country won its independence from Russia in 1991 can be seen ( here ).

A live map showing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is visible ( here ).

This video has also been subject to a fact check by Snopes ( here ).

VERDICT

False. This video was shared online before the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 and there’s no evidence Ukrainian soldiers were involved in the scene. The Ukraine conflict is not a “cover-up war” for fighting the “deep-state.”

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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