Social media posts claim a video depicts Ukrainian soldiers surrendering to the Russian army. This is false; the clip shows a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Wagner mercenaries in late May 2023 near the city of Bakhmut.
“Surrendering Ukrainians get to be a part of the future instead of dying in the past (the US empire in decline),” says a July 23, 2023 post sharing the footage on Twitter, which is being rebranded as “X.” “Russia needs to take these men in and help them find a future, if it sends them back to Kiev they will just be sent into the meat grinder again.”
The video shows people walking past tanks, which appear to be waving white flags.
While AFP could not identify the source of the video, both the Wagner group and the Ukrainian army shared photos of the same event. A reverse image search surfaced a Reddit thread (archived here) indicating the clip shows a prisoner exchange.
The Ukrainian Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War posted a video of the freed prisoners on its YouTube channel (archived here). Wagner also posted a video on its Telegram account the day of the exchange (archived here).
Aerial shots from the three clips indicate they all depict the same event from different angles.
The placement of the vehicles, for example, matches in each video. A white patch on the road appears in the footage, as well as the same column of people near the grass.
A track into the fields is also visible in the clips.
— GeoConfirmed (@GeoConfirmed)
May 25, 2023
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a May 25 speech that 106 Ukrainians — 98 soldiers and sergeants and eight officers — were released from captivity in the swap.
AFP has debunked several false claims about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine here.