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Fact Check-Image of individuals with wooden guns in Ukraine was taken at training exercises prior to Russian invasion

Images of individuals holding wooden guns in Ukraine were taken during training exercises on Feb. 19, 2022, prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Some users online screenshotted a Fox News report featuring the image to falsely suggest that there is no war going on in the country, with others claiming that the imagery is proof that the war is being exaggerated.

The image of two individuals holding wooden guns aired on Fox News as b-roll while the Ukrainian parliament member, Kira Rudik, was speaking on Feb. 26, 2022, and can be viewed (06:45 min) (here), (archive.is/GoxCW).

Users cited the photograph to amplify the false claim that there is no war in Ukraine.

Users shared a screenshot of a Telegram message featuring the image with text: “Good thing the media was conveniently there to get coverage of this, and their position, as well as telling the world that they’re shooting flat rectangle bullets out of their fake guns. With the fake news – nothing is real. It’s all a script” (archive.is/NgEVw).

Another said: “None of it is even real. I'm beginning to think that Biden needed Americans to believe his prediction and the MSM is playing it for you. Cardboard guns, really?” (here)

Other examples of the claim circulating online can be seen (here), (here), (here), (here).

The images were not taken after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and instead, were captured during a training exercise that took place on Feb. 19, 2022, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, days prior to Russian armed forces invading the country.

A reverse image search shows that the photograph aired on Fox News is viewable on the licensing website, Alamy, credited to Ukrinform with a description that reads: “KHARKIV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 19, 2022 - Two men with rifle cutouts take cover behind a corner during the territorial defence drill for civilians given by Azov Regiment veterans under the slogan "Don't Panic! Get Ready!", Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine” (here).

The photograph is also viewable on the Ukrinform website (here).

Photographs of the Feb. 19, 2022, drill in Kharkiv can be seen on Shutterstock (here).

Wooden guns are viewable in a Reuters report published on Jan. 29, 2022, of Ukraine reservists preparing for conflict (1:00 min) (bit.ly/3Med6WM).

Other media outlets reported that civilian volunteer groups were training using cut-out guns prior to the invasion (here), (here), (here).

The war in Ukraine is a very real event, and Reuters reporting of the war can be viewed (here), (bit.ly/3K5B0lf), (here), (here).

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

On Feb. 24, Putin authorized "special military operations" in Ukraine, with Russian forces beginning missile and artillery attacks, striking major Ukrainian cities including Kyiv (here). On March 1, Russia warned residents of the capital city, Kyiv, to flee their homes while rocket strikes killed at least 10 people in the city of Kharkiv (here).

Fox News has also reported on the war in Ukraine, with recent reports viewable (here), (here), (here).

The latest Reuters reporting on the developing situation in Ukraine can be found (www.reuters.com/places/ukraine).

VERDICT

Misleading. An image of two individuals holding wooden guns in Ukraine which featured a TV cover during an interview on Fox News has been used by users online to falsely claim that the war in Ukraine is fake. The photograph was taken during training exercises days before the Russian invasion, on Feb. 19, 2022.

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

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