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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke February 27, 2023

The war in Ukraine isn’t ‘fake,’ and these photos don’t prove that it is

If Your Time is short

  • Construction workers in Ukraine have been working to repair homes damaged by missiles during the country’s war with Russia. Their efforts have been captured by amateur and professional photographers, as well as multiple news organizations. 
  • A photo of a reconstructed building is not proof the war is fake. The war is real and has left thousands of civilians dead. 

At least 8,000 civilians have been killed since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, according to the United Nations, and thousands more have been injured. Millions have been displaced. 

But a recent tweet from far-right radio host Stew Peters, who has a history of spreading conspiracy theories, casts doubt that there’s even a war at all. 

"This war is FAKE!" reads the Feb. 24 tweet that shares two photos of what appears to be the same building. The first image, labeled "Ukraine" and "February 2022," shows the building with damage on its right side. The second image, labeled "February 2023," shows the building without damage.

An Instagram post sharing a screenshot of this tweet was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

It appears as though Peters got the before-and-after images of the building from Mariana Betsa, Ukraine’s ambassador to Estonia, who tweeted the labeled photos on Feb. 21. 

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"Recovery of Ukraine in action," Betsa tweeted with the hashtags #StopRussia and #StandWithUkraine.

The building is an apartment in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, at 6A Lobanovsky Avenue, which was hit with a missile on Feb. 26, 2022. News organizations such as Sky News and BBC verified and published footage of the incident. Residents of the building spoke to news outlets about what it was like when the missile tore a hole between the 17th and 21st floors of the 26-story building. 

But builders in Kyiv have been working "non-stop to repair homes damaged by Russian shelling," including the Lobanovsky building, German news organization Deutsche Welle reported in September. 

"With the apartment block in danger of collapsing, residents quickly gathered donations to pay for urgent structural support to keep the building standing," Deutsche Welle said. 

Images from professional and amateur photographers captured the repair progress. European Pressphoto Agency published multiple before-and-after images of the building. One montage of images shared on Twitter on Feb. 26, 2023, appears to show the building repairs at different phases.

We rate claims that these images prove the war in Ukraine is fake Pants on Fire!


Our Sources

Instagram post, Feb. 25, 2023

Stew Peters tweet, Feb. 24, 2023

Mariana Betsa tweet, Feb. 21, 2023

CBS News, Photos: Inside the Russian invasion of Ukraine, March 3, 2022

CNN, February 26, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news, updated March 6, 2022

Sky News tweet, Feb. 26, 2022

BBC News, Ukraine: Kyiv apartment building hit by missile, Feb. 26, 2022

Getty Images, Russia attacks Ukraine, Feb. 26, 2022

The Associated Press, Russia pummels Ukraine’s No. 2 city and convoy nears Kyiv, June 13, 2022

United Nations, UN rights chief deplores Ukraine death toll one year after Russian invasion, Feb. 21, 2023

DW, Ukraine war: Reconstruction booms in Kyiv, Sept. 15, 2022

Daily Mail, Rebuilding Ukraine: Dozens of incredible before-and-after images show how Kyiv has managed to repair its buildings and infrastructure throughout the year-long conflict, Feb. 25, 2023

EPA photos, visited Feb. 27, 2023

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The war in Ukraine isn’t ‘fake,’ and these photos don’t prove that it is

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