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Image of children saluting Ukrainian soldiers is years old

February 28, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: A photo shows two small children holding hands and saluting Ukrainian troops following Russia’s 2022 invasion.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The photo was shared by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense in 2016.

THE FACTS: Social media users are circulating an image of two children holding hands in front of waving Ukrainian soldiers, suggesting that it is from the current war in Ukraine.

The image shows the back of a child in a pink jacket holding a stuffed animal, while the other — wearing a blue jacket and carrying a toy gun — salutes troops in vehicles flying Ukrainian flags.

While some simply shared the image with no information on when it was taken, others suggested it is from Russia’s recent invasion.

“Two Ukrainian kids seen paying their respect to Ukraine troops heading to the war front,” one widely shared tweet reads. “True patriotism Ukraine #Ukraine#Russia#Putin#Nato#Kyiv.”

But the photo is not current, reverse image searches show.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense shared the image on Facebook in March 2016, crediting photographer Dmitry Muravsky.

Muravsky posted the image to that platform the same month in an album titled, “Children of War.”

The exact circumstances of the 2016 image aren’t clear, and Muravsky did not immediately respond to an inquiry seeking more information.

Another photo in the same Facebook album shows the child with the blue jacket and toy gun also carrying the stuffed animal and holding hands with a soldier.

Muravsky volunteered for the Ministry of Defense before he was dismissed in August 2016. The ministry noted in a statement at the time that he had “provided the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine with a photo gallery on a gratuitous basis that was used to promote the service in the Armed Forces and not to display the real war fighting.”

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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.