Was the airstrike on Ukraine’s Transfiguration Cathedral staged?

By August 2, 2023 Crisis and Disaster

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has been riddled with conspiracy theories from the onset. Despite global media coverage of the war and videos of the conflict, many believe that the entire war has been staged.

Following recent reports of missile strikes on the city of Odesa in Ukraine, we came across several posts onX (formerly known as Twitter) claiming that Ukraine had staged the destruction of its Transfiguration Cathedral. Referring to a video clip featured on Sky News showing women carrying “heavy concrete stones” with ease in the aftermath of the airstrike, many social media users claimed that the stones were merely props and that there was no airstrike.


Airstrikes on Odesa

According to reports, the recent Russian airstrikes on Odesa damaged several buildings, wounded several people, and even caused deaths.

The video footage featured on Sky News shows people clearing rubble from the Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa which was struck by missiles on 23 July 2023. In the video, which is rather grainy, two women can be seen easily carrying what appears to be multiple broken concrete slabs from the cathedral, leading to sentiments that the airstrike was staged.

Videos of the aftermath

Photographs and videos taken by multiple media outlets confirm that the cathedral in Odesa was badly damaged in the airstrike. AFP news agency also managed to find a higher-resolution version of the same video that was featured on Sky News. It identified that the video was originally uploaded by Rudaw, a news network based in Iraq.

Another YouTube channel – News Post Daily – also uploaded a clearer video showing the aftermath of the attack on the Transfiguration Cathedral.

The clearer videos show foam-like materials amongst the rubble of the cathedral. Some X users commented that these foam-like materials could be the cathedral’s roofing insulation. AFP also reported that the foam-like materials were likely used for insulation of the cathedral and were the objects carried by the women in the videos.

Interestingly, a comment on Rudaw’s video questioned how a church constructed in the 1800s was fitted with foam insulation, implying that foam insulation was only used in construction much later. Although the Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa was originally built in 1794, the building was demolished by the Soviets in 1936. The cathedral was then rebuilt from 1999-2003, during which time foam insulation was already used in buildings.

Therefore, the women referred to in the posts on X were most likely carrying foam-like materials as opposed to concrete slabs. There is also no evidence that Ukraine staged the airstrikes on Odesa. Hence it is false that the attack on the Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa was staged.

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