Today (March 24) marks one month since Russia started its invasion into Ukraine and misleading photo and video claims continue to get shared virally on social media streams across the world. A picture, for example, showing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressing “V sign” gesture over Russian President Vladimir Putin during a photo session with French President Emmanuel Macron has been claimed as the reason behind the Russian invasion of its neighboring nation. However, our investigation found that the image was a digitally altered meme.
Social Media Claims
A picture showing the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressing the “V sign” gesture above the head of Russian President Vladimir Putin in a photo session with French President Emmanuel Macron has been circulated widely on social media in recent days.
The picture came with a caption saying “Here is the real reason for the war”, which is referred to as the motive behind the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Below is the capture of a Facebook post on March 20th by a Facebook user.
Fact Crescendo team began the investigation by running Google Reverse Image Search which leads us to original images, related to the virally shared image on social media.
The original stock images were taken from Normandy Four Summit in 2019 held in France, to discuss settlement of the conflict in Eastern Europe, in which all 3 leaders shown in the claim image (Zelensky, Putin, Macron) along with the German Chancellor took part.
Ukrainian President Zelensky did actually pose with a “V sign” with French President Emmanuel Macron at Elysee Palace in Paris before the Normandy Four summit on 09th December 2019, as seen in the below Alamy stock photograph. But the Russian President is not seen in this photograph.
“V sign” has various meanings, from victory sign to symbol of peace etc. depending on the circumstances and how it is presented.
The other image used in creating the viral meme was taken at the same Normandy Four Summit, in which Russian President Vladmir Putin is seen in a photograph with French President Macron. Both leaders are seen waving their hands in gesture.
Below is a comparison of the viral meme and the original photographs which had been used in creating the manipulated image.
Before the declaration of independence in 1991, Ukraine was part of Russia. As a result, there have been constant conflicts among the two nations. Here is more on the crisis in Ukraine in 2014 after annexation of Crimea by Russia. Here is more on current conflict between Ukraine and Russia
Fact Crescendo found out the image viral on social media claiming Prez. Zelensky showing the “V sign” gesture over Putin’s head was actually a digitally altered meme. The meme was digitally created using two separate stock images taken during the Normandy Four Summit held in France 2019 in which Russian and Ukrainian leaders were seen posing separately along with French Prez. Emmanuel Macron
Title:Prez. Zelensky expressing the “V sign” gesture over Prez. Putin is an Altered ImageFact Check By: Fact Crescendo Team