Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Russian Attack On Ukraine's Ternopil on May 13, 2023

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Russian Attack On Ukraine's Ternopil on May 13, 2023 Iran

Does a viral video show a Russian attack on the Ukrainian city of Ternopil during the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest? No, that's not true: The same footage first appeared online four months before, where it was used by Russian state-controlled TV in news reports about Iran.

The claim appeared in a tweet (archived here) published on May 13, 2023. It opened:

Arrivals in Ternopil and here are very successful in everything
It is reported that a significant part of the military aid sent by Western countries is concentrated in this region of Ukraine.

The tweet contained a low-quality video of a massive fire without any obvious location-identifying details.

This is what it looked like at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2023-05-15 at 11.31.36 AM.png

Twitter screenshot(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Mon May 15 15:31:36 2023 UTC)

Spriter99880, a Twitter account that posted the claim, is known for spreading misinformation and disinformation.

The clip contained a logo of a Telegram channel "Fucking Ternopol", creating a misleading impression that it captured recent developments in the Russian-Ukrainian war -- namely a Russian attack during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Liverpool, UK, on May 13, 2023, instead of by Ukraine due to safety concerns.

The word "fucking" paired with a name of a Ukrainian city is typical in headlines of local chats on Telegram. However, unlike other similar channels, all chats named "Fucking Ternopol," did not have a massive following. The most popular one had only 35 subscribers and did not post anything since April 3, 2023.

None of those channels got the name of the place right: Its present-day Ukrainian spelling is Тернопіль, or Ternopil in English.

Additionally, this city in western Ukraine is quite far from the front line of combat, as of this writing.

A reverse image search shows that the video in question was first uploaded on the Iranian website Tabnak on January 29, 2023:

Screen Shot 2023-05-15 at 11.07.53 AM.png

(Source: Tabnak screenshot taken on May 15 15:07:53 2023 UTC)

The caption, automatically translated to English by Chrome, said that the footage showed a blaze in Azarshahr, an Iranian city located in East Azerbaijan, an Iranian province bordering the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

On the same day, Russia's state-controlled Channel One used the video in a report about a drone attack on Iran:

Screen Shot 2023-05-15 at 11.24.53 AM.png

(Source: 1tv screenshot taken on Mon May 15 15:24:53 2023 UTC; translated to English by Chrome)

Even Russian Z-resources, promoting (and attempting to justify) the war in Ukraine, republished the video in late January 2023, saying that it was Iranian East Azerbaijan.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about the war in Ukraine can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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