Do these videos show conflict in Ukraine being staged?

Do these videos show conflict in Ukraine being staged?

Clips depicting a film crew filming combat scenes have been circulating on TikTok and Twitter with some posters describing them as proof that the war in Ukraine is staged, and that combat has been filmed for “western eyes” or UN propaganda.

In the clips, individuals are wearing outfits that closely resemble Ukraine army uniforms. A crew with filming equipment is shown filming them entering a building and running through it as fire and sparks surround them. Social media comments have claimed that these videos clearly show “fake scenarios” being filmed in Ukraine.

We conducted a search for the original videos and found that they were initially posted by a Ukrainian Director, Artem Kocharian, who is currently based on Latvia. Kocharian posted a series of 7 clips on his own TikTok page in late March, although the clips were only picked up and circulated in April.

As the two screenshots below show, the videos being circulated with the claim that they depict faked combat have Kocharian’s username (@artemkocharian1) cropped out from the original posts, preventing viewers from easily tracing the videos back to him.


After identifying Kocharian as the original source, it becomes clear that he is filming a movie about the war. Kocharian has communicated with AP News to clarify that the movie is about a female main character during the early months of the Russian invasion and was filmed at a former military base in Latvia. An Instagram page for the movie also contains clips and behind-the-scenes images from filming, further confirming the filming location. One post even credits Latvian police officers as actors portraying Ukrainian soldiers.

Therefore, the claim that these videos show Ukraine combat being faked is untrue. They instead show a movie about the war being filmed in Latvia by a Ukrainian director. The videos were likely intentionally taken out of context from Kocharian’s social media page and reposted with the intention to misrepresent them. We give this claim a rating of false.

Confusion also arose because of language barriers; Kocharian’s posts are largely captioned and hashtagged in Ukrainian, which made it harder to verify sources and contexts. This continues to cause misinterpretation even on the original posts, with one blowing up on TikTok with over 108k views and comments in English repeating claims about them “making some documentary for western msm.” Accurate translations and being aware of potential mistranslations are therefore a key part of processing information and identifying misinformation.

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