Does a viral video prove the presence of NATO forces in Ukraine in May 2023? No, that's not true: The footage, predating the Russian invasion of Ukraine, shows Afghanistan.
The claim appeared in a video on TikTok on May 10, 2023. The text overlay said:
Is World war 3 already
startin 💔 it like a dream 😭
Nato soldiers now in
The description of the video failed to identify the date of the footage or the city where it was taken -- instead, it included only hashtags:
#nato #russia #usa #ukraine #uk #france #germany #military #china #fyp #ww3 #ghost
This is what it looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:
(Source: TikTok screenshot Tue May 23 15:44:07 2023 UTC)
The video showed crowds of uniformed people gathering around a landing strip as an aircraft that looks military touches down.
The footage, however, does not portray a scene in Ukraine.
The same video was published on YouTube on August 18, 2021, around the time the U.S. forces left Afghanistan and roughly half a year before the invasion of Ukraine launched by Russia in February 2022. The caption said the footage was taken in Kabul:
(Source: YouTube screenshot taken on Tue May 23 15:02:22 2023 UTC)
Additionally, the landscape and the climate conditions in the video are more consistent with the nearly treeless, arid conditions of mountainous Afghanistan than with the temperate continental climate of Ukraine, a mostly flat country known for its fertile soils.
The NATO website acknowledges that it "condemns in the strongest possible terms Russia's brutal and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine," but states (in answer 7 under "Frequently Asked Questions") that it does not send its soldiers to operate in non-member states such as Ukraine:
NATO's actions are defensive, designed not to provoke conflict but to prevent conflict. The Alliance has a responsibility to ensure that this war does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine, which would be even more devastating and dangerous. Enforcing a no-fly zone would bring NATO forces into direct conflict with Russia. This would significantly escalate the war and lead to more human suffering and destruction for all countries involved.
Contrary to the established facts, Russia has argued multiple times that it's at war with NATO, not Ukraine, even though it directly contradicted other official statements made in attempts to justify the invasion of Ukraine. One of the recent examples of such rhetoric is the March 24, 2023, interview of Dmitry Medvedev, a former president of Russia and currently the deputy chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.
Other Lead Stories fact checks about the war in Ukraine can be found here.