Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show USAID Supplying Ephedrine, Methylphenidate To Forces In Ukraine -- Video Is 'Fabricated ... Staged'

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show USAID Supplying Ephedrine, Methylphenidate To Forces In Ukraine -- Video Is 'Fabricated ... Staged' Fake Video

Is the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supplying Ukrainian forces with ephedrine and methylphenidate, according to a video circulating on social media? No, that's not true: A USAID spokesperson told Lead Stories that the video is fabricated or staged and that the agency does not procure or supply controlled substances like these in Ukraine.

The claim appeared in a post and video on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter (archived here), on July 31, 2023, with the Ukrainian title "Дуже Дякуємо," which translates to "thank you very much." The caption for the video said:

The 79th Air Assault Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Zaporozhye received ephedrine, a prescription stimulant widely used in the production of methamphetamine, as part of a US aid package.

This is what the tweet looked like on X at the time of writing:

USAID twitter.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Tue Aug 1 14:59:51 2023 UTC)

The drugs

The 22-second video largely focuses on a cardboard box. Inside of it are two packages labeled "USAID" -- one says "ephedrine"; the second one says "methylphenidate." Both ephedrine and methylphenidate are stimulants.

Ephedrine can be used to manufacture methamphetamine.

U.S. Agency for International Development

In an August 1, 2023, email to Lead Stories, a USAID spokesperson said the humanitarian assistance agency "is not involved with the procurement or supply of controlled substances" in Ukraine. The response continued:

USAID does not provide assistance to Ukraine's armed forces. USAID did not send Ephedrine/Methylphenidate to Ukraine's armed forces.

Additionally, the USAID spokesperson said the clip used in the tweet is fake:

The video in this social media post does not show legitimate USAID medical assistance. It is fabricated and/or staged for this video.

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

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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