Verifying claims of Russian tanks sent to Ukrainian border

Russia is currently conducting what are said to be the largest-scale war games since the 1980s. These are taking place along the Chinese border, but some media are also reporting sightings of tanks on the border with Ukraine.

Radio Free Europe reported, in Ukrainian, that civilians have posted photos of T-62 tanks heading west since August 29. Freelance reporter Petri Mäkelä reported heavy tanks being sent westward on September 2. “Pretty west for Vostok-18,” Mäkelä commented in a tweet.

As well as these reports, citizen journalist Ryan Barenklau of Washington D.C.-based Strategic Sentinel, posted photos which he said were of Russian tanks on the border.

And British tabloids The Sun and the Daily Star reported on September 4 and 3, respectively, that “1,000 Russian tanks” had been sent to the Ukrainian border. This was seen as a possible sign of increased tensions between the western-backed Ukraine government and Russian-backed separatists.

The claim, which other outlets have yet to report, originated from a tweet, with images, from the Strategic Sentinel, a small reporting operation focusing on military and strategic matters. 

This WikiTribune story is dedicated to verifying the report and finding the original source of these photos.

Strategic Sentinel on Twitter

Photos taken in #Russia of trains continuing to send T-62s west towards #Ukraine. Given the amount of trains spotted with this cargo heading west, it’s likely between 500-1000 tanks have been moved in the past 2 weeks.

 Barenklau told WikiTribune that he personally found the photos circulating on various accounts on VKontakte, a popular Russian social media platform. He could not identify the original tweet. Barenklau also acknowledged that The Sun and Daily Star contacted him about using the photos.

Validity of the images

A reverse Google image search of the below photo resulted in no exact matches, making it unlikely that it was copied from an older news story. It was first posted by Strategic Sentinel in a tweet on September 4. Reverse searches do not include posts made on VKontakte. 

Reporting from Radio Free Europe, which came before September 4, did not include the photos from the Strategic Sentinel.

Photo from Strategic Sentinel tweet


Photo from Strategic Sentinel tweet

Image information

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