Propaganda is a major component of modern warfare, and many questionable videos and photos have already emerged from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Viral footage of a Ukrainian MiG-29 pilot who came to be known as the “Ghost of Kyiv” shooting down six Russian aircraft on the invasion’s second day, for example, turned out to be from a 2013 game called Digital Combat Simulator: World.
That appeared to be the work of a well-meaning fan, but one particularly gruesome video showing charred bodies and human skulls that seemed to have been sliced open appears to have deliberately created to stop up anti-Ukrainian feeling.
The video is alleged to show the aftermath of an IED explosion in separatist-held area of Ukraine on February 22.
Officials from the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” claim that three people were killed by the device, which they say was planted by Ukrainian “terrorists”.
But analysts from fact-checking group Bellingcat have raised doubts about the reports coming out of Donetsk.
Chris Cobb-Smith, an expert on explosive weapons, told the group that there were significant questions to be asked about images of the alleged “terror attack”.
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“This incident has been manufactured to give the impression it was a result of the detonation of an IED or off-road bomb’” he said.
“The damage on the left side of the car does not resemble fragmentation indentations from a blast,” he added.
“The puncture marks are too uniform and there is no evidence of buckling or indentation on the panels that would occur from a blast”.
He said that the damage looks much more like bullet holes, pointing out that if a bomb had been detonated under the car it would be very likely to come to a neat stop, as the vehicle in the video had done.
He concluded that the “bomb attack” had been faked, and that the three bodies had been placed in the car in an effort to create a false impression.
“In my opinion the images do not represent credible scenario," he said.
"I believe the incident has been manufactured to give the appearance of an IED blast in which three individuals died. I believe the vehicle was the subject of short-range small arms fire, it was not moving at the time and the victims were planted postmortem”,
Dr Lawrence Owens, a research fellow at the University of Winchester, added that the wounds on the bodies were not consistent with an IED attack and there were several clues that the bodies has undergone an autopsy before being placed in the car.
The investigators concluded that the shocking images were an example of pro-Russian forces deliberately creating an “atrocity” to create a pretext for February’s invasion of Ukraine.
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