The claim: Video shows Ukrainian and Russian soldiers playing tug of war
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, some on social media are confident that soldiers from the two nations are not totally at odds.
A video shared on Facebook shows a number of individuals in military uniform surrounding two soldiers bound by harnesses. After a countdown, the two attempt to run in opposite directions, tugging at each other in a tug of war game to the cheers of the onlookers.
“One on one tug of war soldier, Ukraine versus Russia,” reads the caption of the March 9 video, which garnered more than 3.6 million views and 62,000 reactions in two days.
Duplicates of the video received thousands more views. However, the clip was taken out of context to support a false claim.
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The video shows soldiers playing tug of war, but they are not part of the Ukrainian and Russian armies. Canadian and American soldiers faced off in a standoff after a joint training session in 2012 in Indiana.
USA TODAY has reached out to Facebook users who shared the complaint for comment.
A video shows Canadian and American troops in 2012
The first version of the video USA TODAY was able to find online was shared on YouTube a decade ago by 31 Canadian Brigade Group, part of the Canadian Army.
The video description says the clip was shot at Camp Atterbury in Indiana. The Canadian soldiers observed members of the US National Guard playing an “interesting version” of tug of war and decided to join them.
“31 soldiers (from the Canadian Brigade Group) were mesmerized by the spectacle and encouraged the competitors,” reads the description of the March 2012 video. “Finally, a young Canadian soldier dared to challenge the crowd of his hometown and put national pride on the line. In this video, Master Corporal John Celestino of the Windsor Regiment, left, participates in a game of tug of war with a U.S. National Guardsman soldier, Okay.”
Fact check report:What is true and what is false about the Russian invasion of Ukraine
The friendly competition took place at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, where Canadian and American soldiers met for Exercise Arrowhead Lightning, according to the video description. A March 2012 National Guard press release confirms the description.
Insider covered the tug-of-war confrontation in a March 2012 article. Military.com put the video on its website two years later.
Our opinion: False
Based on our research, we rate the claim that a video shows Ukrainian and Russian soldiers playing tug of war FALSE. The video shows Canadian and U.S. service members going head-to-head after a joint training session in Indiana in 2012.
Our fact-checking sources:
- Google reverse image search, performed March 11
- 31st Canadian Brigade Group via YouTube, March 21, 2012, One-on-one tug of war, Canada vs. United States
- National Guard, March 22, 2012, Indiana Guard welcomes forces to state military training facilities
- Insider, March 23, 2012, USA vs. Canada: Watch these soldiers go head-to-head in a tug of war game
- Military.com, Nov. 26, 2014, Epic ‘Tug of War’ – United States vs. Canada
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