‘Leopard 2’ Tank Seen Destroyed In Russian Media Video Was Really A Farm Harvester

Russia claimed this week to have blunted the long-expected Ukrainian army offensive this week, and Kremlin officers on Tuesday even introduced that the Russian floor forces had efficiently destroyed eight German-made Leopard 2 predominant battle tanks (MBTs), together with greater than 100 different armored automobiles in simply latest days.

“Complete losses of Ukrainian troops within the southern Donetsk Area space had been greater than 1,500 Ukrainian servicemen, 28 tanks, of them 8 German-made Leopard tanks, 3 wheeled French-made АМХ-10 tanks and 109 armored preventing automobiles,” the Russian Ministry of Protection instructed the Russian state information outlet Tass.

The claims weren’t independently verified, and Kyiv has mentioned the allegations are mere Russian propaganda and a part of an ongoing disinformation marketing campaign.

It was earlier this yr that Berlin introduced it could present a variety of the Chilly Battle-era Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, whereas Paris additionally has been supplying the wheeled AMX-10 tank destroyer to assist Kyiv.

The Video Proof—Not Precisely!

Maybe to bolster the Kremlin’s statements, on Tuesday, Russian state media outlet Ria Novosti printed video footage on the social messaging platform Telegram—claiming the almost minute-long-clip was recorded from a Ka-52 “Alligator” assault helicopter because the crew focused a formation of Leopard 2 MBTs crossing an open discipline.

But, as a substitute of serving as a smoking gun to again up Moscow’s claims, the publish on Telegram shortly crashed and burned. The video was closely mocked as keen-eyed viewers famous that the Ka-52 did not truly assault any Leopard 2s, and even tanks for that matter.

The objects seen within the grainy footage had been recognized as farm tools.

“That is potential [sic] the dumbest kill video of this complete battle and I actually imply it. This Russian Ka-52 assault chopper crew thought that they’ve focused and destroyed Leopard 2 tanks (you learn this appropriately). Even a semi-professional can clearly see that this are [sic] agricultural harvester and sprayer machines. And as if this isn’t dumb sufficient, Russian regime bloggers like Kotsnews plus Ria Novosti issued this footage claiming precisely that,” army information and evaluation blogger @Tendar tweeted.

Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) added, “The automobiles focused by ATGM from Ka-52 not solely do not resemble tanks however are in truth harmless agricultural equipment- a sprayer & combines.”

Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to the Ukrainian Minister of Inner Affairs of Ukraine, additionally sought to debunk the video, posting through Twitter (@Gerashchenko_en), “The automobiles within the footage printed by the Russian Ministry of Defence don’t resemble any tanks in any respect of their silhouette. They most have a resemblance to mix harvesters.”

Propaganda Failure—Perhaps Not

Each Kyiv and Moscow—and their proxies—have shared numerous “battle porn” fashion movies for the reason that begin of the battle greater than 15 months in the past to maintain their respective claims and in addition to focus on the opposite aspect’s setbacks on the battlefield. It has been frequent for such movies and images to be introduced out of context, closely edited, and even recorded removed from the entrance traces.

Nonetheless, this explicit video has gone viral on social media for the mistaken causes—and it ought to have been apparent to the state media that it would not again up the Kremlin’s claims.

“As an ex-Kansas farm boy who spent summers driving combines, it certain seems extra like that is what was hit than a Leopard,” mentioned Dr. Matthew J. Schmidt, affiliate professor of nationwide safety and political science on the College of New Haven. “It would not take a satellite tv for pc to inform a harvester from a tank anymore.”

Extra importantly, this video—and the reactions it acquired—serves for example of how crowd-sourced efforts can shortly debunk propaganda shared by official state media retailers.

“That is the beauty of social media: there are literally thousands of fairly good beginner analysts on the market that may supply up the form of assessments of this stuff that used to solely be the purview of intelligence companies,” added Schmidt.

This wasn’t the primary time that Russia had claimed to have destroyed a Leopard 2, however it’s arguably among the many least convincing.

“One of many issues that is actually attention-grabbing about this story is how insidious it’s. I agree it is laughable for the way simple it’s to disprove, however analysis reveals that the purpose of misinformation campaigns is not essentially ‘to get away with it,’ it is to muddy the waters a lot that the very thought of what’s true or not turns into irrelevant,” defined Dr. Clifford Lampe, professor within the Faculty of Data on the College of Michigan.

“It is associated to what Walter Langer known as ‘the Huge Lie’ within the twentieth century—that ‘Individuals will imagine a giant lie prior to a bit of one, and in the event you repeat it continuously sufficient, folks will eventually imagine it,'” Lampe continued. “So, it is easy to refute one declare about tanks, however they hold repeating the lie and a few folks will come to imagine it—probably the individuals who must imagine it to maintain supporting the federal government.”

Russia might know that some will counter the claims that it was the Leopard 2 within the video, however the Kremlin can proceed to allege that eight of the tanks had been nonetheless destroyed.

“The purpose of claims like this is not to be factual, it is to create a believable narrative,” mentioned Lampe. “My guess is that this is not a fail on their half, it is a part of a broader and profitable technique. I imply, Russians actually wrote the guide on a lot of these campaigns within the Nineteen Thirties.”

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