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- There have been no confirmed reports of Russian soldiers surrendering to Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk province in eastern Ukraine. When this post was made, Russia was threatening to annex the area.
- There have been unverified reports provided by the Ukrainian government of Russians surrendering elsewhere in the country.
- Russian residents have also reportedly been fleeing to other countries to avoid President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization order calling on 300,000 reserve soldiers to fight in the war.
Two days before Russia announced it was annexing four Ukrainian regions in violation of international law, one social media post had an announcement of its own:
"The Russian army has surrendered in Donetsk," read a caption in a Sept. 27 Facebook post.
Donetsk was one of the four eastern Ukrainian regions that Russian President Vladimir Putin was expected to claim for his nation. He did so Sept. 30.
Russia has faced numerous setbacks in its war with Ukraine, including stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces and shortages of troops and weapons. But this Facebook post claiming the Russian army had experienced its most significant setback of the war came without any supporting evidence.
A 17-minute video with the post featured narration from what sounded like a computer-generated voice talking about the conflict in Ukraine, but it didn’t say anything in support of the caption’s claim.
The post was 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 post and video follow a noticeable trend on Facebook of accounts claiming to have the latest news on the war in Ukraine. Instead of offering news, they use fake, sensationalist headlines paired with mostly unrelated videos from other sources.
There have been reports provided by the Ukrainian government of Russian soldiers surrendering have been covered by the media. However, the reports haven’t been independently verified, and none have mentioned troops in Donetsk.
Donetsk is a province in eastern Ukraine and part of the Donbas region, which has been under Russian control since before the invasion.
The post may be confusing reports of mobilized Russian residents calling a Ukrainian-sponsored hotline about wanting to surrender as scores of men have attempted to flee to other countries to avoid being drafted to fight.
Putin had called for the mobilization of 300,000 reserve soldiers in late September to serve in Ukraine amid military personnel shortages.
A Facebook post claimed Russian soldiers surrendered to Ukrainian troops in the eastern province of Donetsk.
Although there have been stories of Russian soldiers surrendering, none have been independently verified or have been reported as having occurred in eastern Ukraine. The post provides no evidence to support its claim.
The Ukrainian government has also not publicly said anything about Russian soldiers surrendering in Donetsk. In fact, Putin has announced Russia is annexing the region. We rate this claim False.
Associated Press, "Ukrainian resistance grows in Russian-occupied areas," Aug. 9, 2022
Reuters, "Russia's military suffering manpower shortages -U.S. intelligence," Aug. 31, 2022
PolitiFact, "Case study: How Facebook pages exploit Russia’s war in Ukraine with false videos," July 27, 2022
The Daily Beast, "Surrender Fever Sweeps Through Putin’s Troops After Russian Collapse in North," Sept. 12, 2022
Newsweek, "Conscripted Russian Soldier Immediately Surrenders to Ukraine Forces," Sept. 28, 2022
Al Jazeera, "Donetsk and Luhansk: What you should know about the ‘republics,’" Feb. 22, 2022
Kyiv Post, "Mobilized Russians Looking to Surrender," Sept. 28, 2022
The Washington Post, "The Russian men fleeing mobilization, and leaving everything behind," Sept. 28, 2022
BBC News, "Ukraine: Fugitive Putin ally Medvedchuk arrested - security service," April 13, 2022
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