Video claiming to show Russian missile was created using visual effects
CLAIM: Video captures an American journalist reacting as a Russian Kinzhal missile hits land in Ukraine and causes a massive explosion.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The video was previously posted by a visual effects artist who has used the same background and sound effects in multiple videos. Hypersonic missile experts confirmed it does not resemble such a weapon.
THE FACTS: Throughout Russia’s war on Ukraine, social media users attempting to push certain narratives or gain followers have posted digital animations and video game sequences, misrepresenting them as combat footage.
Four months into the war, another computer-generated video is circulating, this one with false claims it shows a Russian missile hitting land in Ukraine and an American journalist reacting in shock.
The video shows a grassy field with a white tent and trees behind it. A white object falls from the upper right side of the sky and disappears behind the trees. A fiery explosion erupts in the distance, and a male voice shouts profanities in the background.
“A Russian Kinzhal missile at 12,000 kilometers per hour, 10 times faster than the speed of sound, was used today to destroy a Ukrainian weapons depot 136 meters underground,” read a caption shared with the video on Instagram. “The video shows the amazement of an American reporter who witnessed this.”
However, an analysis of frames from the video reveals it was previously posted by a visual effects artist who goes by InsanePatient2. On YouTube and TikTok, the artist titled the video, “What if Russia Started Nuclear War?”
Russia’s Kinzhal missile is a hypersonic missile, a class of weapons which travel at speeds akin to ballistic missiles but are difficult to shoot down because of their maneuverability.
In March, Russia claimed it used the Kinzhal missile for the first time in combat, to destroy an underground warehouse storing Ukrainian missiles and aviation ammunition in Ukraine’s western Ivano-Frankivsk region. The Pentagon said at the time that the U.S. could not confirm the Russians used a hypersonic missile.
Hypersonic missile experts confirmed the video circulating widely online this week did not show a hypersonic missile, because the object in the video moved too slowly.
“The speed of a hypersonic missile in terminal phase (right before it hits target) is very high, greater than a mile a second,” Kelly Stephani, a mechanical science and engineering professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “If I had to estimate, this video shows a projectile traveling ~1000-2000 ft to target, and took 2 seconds to impact. If it were a hypersonic missile, it would have traveled that distance in a fraction of a second. “
“The real missile would be so fast that it would appear as a quick streak on video - probably captured in only a single frame,.” said Jonathan Poggie, a professor in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.