In an exclusive report from the frontlines of Eastern Ukraine where tensions remain high as a large-scale military conflict between Russia and Ukraine may be provoked at any moment, CNN’s Matthew Chance reports that “a dramatic build up of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border” includes military hardware being transported by rail towards that border.
But the video of that military hardware Mr. Chance says is on its way to join some 50,000 Russian troops that have already amassed at Russia’s border with Ukraine actually shows what Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described as “Ukrainian tanks at a Ukrainian train station in front of a Ukrainian passenger train,” in a Facebook post calling the CNN news report “inappropriate.”
The video used by CNN was apparently uploaded to YouTube on April 4 this year and describes the location as Dnipro — a city of just under a million residents about 90 miles west of the border of the Donetsk province, putting the tanks several hours away from the frontlines and even outside the conflict zone known as Donbass. Additionally, the military hardware Mr. Chance uses to depict Russian aggression in his report are actually Ukrainian T-72 tanks heading east — towards Russia, according to the original video.
Meanwhile, some Internet sleuths discussing the train in the background, which Mrs. Zakharova claimed was a Ukrainian passenger train, were quick to point out that the train is blue and yellow — the colors of the Ukrainian flag — and resembles other trains in Ukraine that have “Ukraine” painted in big yellow letters on some of the wagons. While that is not seen in this video, a closer look at this particular train shows the Coat of Arms of Ukraine.
Also, the train platform visible in the CNN report video clip appears strikingly similar to the train platforms at the Dnipro Central train station in Ukraine, as seen in photos posted here, here, here, and here.
Whether the use of this video was a innocent mistake or an intentional misrepresentation of the facts remains unknown.
Earlier this month, Mr. Chance was temporarily detained by Russian police near the prison where Alexey Navalny is serving a 2.5 year prison sentence. According to the authorities, the CNN reporter and his team did not have their press credentials with him at the time and were part of a crowd that was obstructing a service road leading to the prison. He and his team were released later that day once their identities were confirmed.
Update: CNN has posted a statement confirming that some of the footage contained in the original version of their video was from Ukraine.