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Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy February 28, 2022

Photo of children sending off Ukrainian troops is from 2016, not 2022

If Your Time is short

  • The viral image of children waving off troops dates back to 2016. It does not depict the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

A viral image of two young children watching Ukrainian troops drive by on tanks has ricocheted across the internet as the country’s forces work to resist an invasion from Russia.

The children are holding hands as the tanks roll by. One, wearing a pink jacket, is seen holding a stuffed animal. The other, a toy gun slung across his shoulder, is saluting the soldiers.

The photo is a real image and no doubt elicits real emotions.

But it also does not depict the conflict currently playing out in Ukraine. It’s been miscaptioned online. Reverse image searches show that the original image dates back to 2016. 

Posts sharing the photo as though it were current have spread across Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and image sharing services like Imgur. One post came from U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a Republican lawmaker who serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard.

Various social media posts shared the same 2016 image as though it depicted a scene in Ukraine in 2022.

"This photo brought tears to my eyes," another post shared on Facebook said. "Two young Ukrainian children sending off soldiers to fight the Russians."

The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

The photo is watermarked to Ukrainian photographer Dmitry Muravsky. Muravsky shared the photo on Facebook in 2016, and so did Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense.

Later that year, the Ministry of Defense announced that Muravsky, a volunteer photographer, had been dismissed from his position amidst accusations that he had staged photos.

The photo gaining attention now has also been blown up into a memorial in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. The memorial was captured in several recent Associated Press photographs.

Our ruling

Social media posts claim that a viral image, which shows two young children holding hands and saluting troops, was captured in Ukraine in 2022. But the photo traces back to 2016.

We rate these posts False.

Our Sources

Tweets, Feb. 25, 2022

Facebook posts, Feb. 26, 2022

Reverse image searches on TinEye, Yandex and Google Images, Feb. 28, 2022

Reuters, "Fact Check-Photo of children saluting Ukrainian tanks dates back to 2016," Feb. 26, 2022

Dylan Scott on Twitter, Feb. 26, 2022

The Washington Post, "Photographer of controversial Ukrainian combat photo ‘dismissed’ from duties," Aug. 29, 2016

Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, "Volunteer photographer Dmytro Muravskiy dismissed from the position of the Volunteer Adviser to the Minister of Defence of Ukraine," Aug. 28, 2016

Dmitry Muravsky on Facebook, March 22, 2016

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Photo of children sending off Ukrainian troops is from 2016, not 2022

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