As Russian military forces deployed in Ukraine, tens of thousands of social media users reacted to a video purportedly created in Ukraine and showing how to drive a military tank. The footage was applauded by many online, but posts are missing key context: the clip predates the Russian invasion by a year and was created by a Russian blogger.
“The future is a very weird place. Ukrainians are uploading videos on TikTok about how to drive abandoned or captured Russian military vehicles,” a Twitter user sharing the clip wrote on Feb. 28, 2021. The video has garnered over 6.9 million views ( here ). Other examples repeating similar claims can be seen: ( here ) ( here ) ( here ).
The viral clip shows a woman speaking in Russian inside military machinery, giving basic driving instructions like turning on the engine and how to use the clutch and gears.
The video was not however filmed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Reuters found earlier iterations, with a slightly different intro, were posted by creator Nastya Tyman on TikTok on Feb. 16, 2021 ( bit.ly/35oSJpg ).
On Feb. 23, 2021 she shared the video on Instagram alongside the caption “Congratulations to all the defenders on the holiday” ( here ). “Defender of the Fatherland Day” is a Russian holiday dedicated to honor war veterans and military servicemen on February 23 ( tass.com/society/1408423 ).
Tyman reposted the content on both TikTok ( bit.ly/3HvKJzD ) and Instagram ( here ) on Feb. 27, 2022 - three days after the Russian invasion started. Her two recent posts make no reference to the conflict or to Ukrainians.
Nastya Tyman is an auto mechanic and auto blogger. According to her YouTube About page ( here ), she is based in Russia. Contrary to online claims, she does not appear to be Ukrainian.
In another clip posted on Instagram about her driver’s license renewal ( here ), she can be seen showing what appears to be a Russian driver’s license (see purple “RUS” text) ( ria.ru/20110301/340188503.html ) and a Russian passport ( here ).
In an interview with Cosmopolitan Russia from 2020, Tyman said she liked to “shoot everything related to cars: repair, tuning, racing, drifting, car travel and so on in an endless list” ( here ). Other local media coverage about Tyman can be found ( here ) ( here )
Other examples of her car-related content are viewable ( here ), ( here ), ( here ), ( here ).
Tyman did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.
The footage has prompted some online to claim a Ukrainian user filmed the tutorial and shared it on social media platform TikTok to combat the Russian invasion. Some comments showing this confusion include:
“This is not funny at all. They’re doing this in order to know how to defend themselves from a country that’s chasing after them, prayers to them” and “I saw her video! She is amazing as are the other brave Ukrainians defending their country!”
“Now the Russians will abandon these tanks and set it up with explosives, thanks to tic Tok and the media. War is no game,” a comment from a Facebook user reads, in part.
A Reuters report on how the conflict has been experienced among social media’s youngest users on TikTok and how some Ukrainian users have made it a mission to share information and spread awareness with Western audiences on the platform is viewable ( here ).
Missing context. This video was not filmed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. An earlier iteration was posted on social media on February 2021. It was created by Russia blogger Nastya Tyman.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.
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