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Ukraine: These videos do not show a Russian tank running over a civilian in Kyiv

These videos do not show a Russian armoured vehicle running over a car in Kyiv.
These videos do not show a Russian armoured vehicle running over a car in Kyiv. © Observers

On Twitter, videos from February 25 showing a military tank running over a car in the Obolon district of Ukraine's capital city Kyiv have garnered over ten million views. But contrary to what some users claim, this is not a Russian tank deliberately running over a civilian. There are many indications that the incident actually involved a Ukrainian tank.

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"Russian terrorists drove a tank purposely over a civilian's car." Since February 25, videos showing an armoured vehicle running over a car in Obolon have been viewed more than ten million times. As gunfire was erupting in this northeastern district of Kyiv,many English- and French-speaking accounts claimed that these images showed a Russian tank deliberately running over a civilian. But there is no evidence to support this. On the contrary, there are several indications that it is a Ukrainian tank.

Screenshot of one of the Tweets relaying the video claiming that a Russian tank ran over a motorist in Kyiv.
Screenshot of one of the Tweets relaying the video claiming that a Russian tank ran over a motorist in Kyiv. © Observers

Visual clues reveal the location

On Twitter, we found seven different videos showing the same scene from different angles. This video, filmed from a distance, shows an armoured vehicle reversing after running over a car. This one, filmed from closer up, shows the same tank swerving suddenly before hitting the car. In this footage, people can be seen trying to rescue the motorist who appears to have survived.

To verify these videos' authenticity, we geolocated and dated each one of them. To do this, we used visual clues in the videos, such as tram tracks, the shape of the road where the incident took place and the colours of the cars parked nearby. All the videos were indeed taken the morning of February 25 at this location in the Obolon district of Kyiv. 

An example of the visual indications used to locate where the tank and vehicle collided.
An example of the visual indications used to locate where the tank and vehicle collided. © Observers

Is it a Russian tank or a Ukrainian military vehicle?

Next, we examined the military vehicle involved in the collision. As several journalists and open-source investigators claimed, the armoured vehicle is a Strela-10, a model of anti-aircraft missile launcher used by the Ukrainian army. 

There are other clues that suggest the vehicle is Ukrainian. For example, there is no letter "Z" painted on the side of the tank, something the Russian military has used since the start of this conflict as a distinguishing mark to differentiate their equipment from similar Ukrainian models. 

Moreover, this type of surface-to-air missile launcher isn't designed for close combat in an urban environment, but rather to support retreating troops, according to Rob Lee, a doctoral student at the Department of War Studies at King's College London. 

Possible reasons for the crash

Why did this Ukrainian armoured vehicle run over a civilian car in this part of Kyiv? Other videos shot a few moments earlier provide some answers to this question. We have chosen not to publish them, due to their shocking nature. It shows soldiers dressed in Ukrainian uniforms chasing and shooting at the driver of a military truck (in red below) seconds before the armoured vehicle crushed the car.

Screenshot of one of the videos showing shooting in Obolon.
Screenshot of one of the videos showing shooting in Obolon. © Observers

The man driving the military truck was also wearing a Ukrainian uniform, but soldiers who could be heard speaking in the videos explained that he was suspected to be a "Russian saboteur disguised as a Ukrainian soldier". A few minutes before the incident occured, Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Anna Maliar posted a message on Facebook saying that "the Russian army has seized Ukrainian army vehicles and is headed towards Kyiv".

In several videos, the Ukrainian soldiers nearby do not attack the armoured vehicle after it runs over the car, nor does the vehicle flee. This is why several journalists claim that the driver of the Strela-10 was not one of these saboteurs, but rather a Ukrainian soldier who was thrown off by the shooting that had taken place nearby. They said the collision between the car and the Ukrainian armoured vehicle was accidental and caused by the fighting.