Fact Check-Reuters photo of soldiers was taken during training exercise in April 2022 and is not proof the war in Ukraine is staged

An image of soldiers in Ukraine was taken during a training simulation on April 15, 2022. The image, tweeted by Reuters in May, is not proof that the war in Ukraine is fake, as claimed and suggested online.

The image shows a group of individuals in army fatigues and helmets, hunkered down. Reuters posted the file image of the training exercise in Ukraine to Twitter on May 16, 2022, with a link to a Reuters report with a headline that reads: “Ukraine says it has repelled Russian incursion in Sumy region” (here).

Users shared a screenshot of the Reuters tweet with suggestions that the war in Ukraine is fake or staged.

One user shared a screenshot of the tweet on Facebook and said: “This is amazing!! Ukrainian border guards repelled a Russian incursion… Wait… Are those paintball guns?! If people, by now, haven’t realized that we’ve been lied to for decades, just let them sleep” (here).

Another said: “Those are paintball guns. Are we sending $40 Billion in paintball refills to keep repelling Russians?” (here).

Another user commented on Twitter: “This entire "war" seems like a globally staged event” (here).

Other examples of the claim on social media can be seen (here), (here), (here), (here) and (here).

The image is not proof that the war in Ukraine is fake. The image was taken during a training exercise in Sumy, Ukraine April 15, 2022, captured by Reuters photographer, Zohra Bensemra (here).

The photograph is viewable via the Reuters website with a caption that reads: “Members of the territorial defence force attend a training simulation for raiding a building occupied by enemy forces as they prepare for new assault, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, outside an abandoned building in Sumy, Ukraine April 15, 2022. Picture taken April 15, 2022” (here).

The war in Ukraine is well documented. The latest Reuters reporting on Ukraine can be seen (

Examples of Reuters imagery taken during fighting in Ukraine and in the aftermath can be seen (here), (here).

An archive link for the original article linked to the Reuters tweet is viewable here, where the report provided a caption to the image, clearly detailing that the photograph was taken in Sumy, Ukraine in April 2022 during a training exercise (here).

Reuters subsequently updated the report with images taken in Sumy on May 17, 2022, following a military strike (here).


A file photograph published by Reuters showing individuals during a military training exercise in Sumy, Ukraine in April 2022 is not proof that the war in Ukraine is staged. The photograph was posted to Twitter in May 2022 by Reuters, but it is clearly labeled as showing a practice drill from April 2022 on the Reuters pictures website.

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