DEBUNKED

No, a Ukrainian publisher did not issue maps omitting Russian-occupied territories

On Telegram, a man claims to show a map of Ukraine from a textbook in which certain Russian-occupied or separatist regions are missing.
On Telegram, a man claims to show a map of Ukraine from a textbook in which certain Russian-occupied or separatist regions are missing. © Observers

In a video posted on Russian Telegram accounts, a man claims to have found a geography book for Ukrainian high school students in which the map of Ukraine has been cut in half, missing the areas occupied by Russian troops. But several clues in the video indicate that it is a fake, as confirmed to us by the book's publisher.

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  • A video seen up to 110,000 times on a Russian Telegram account, but also on Facebook, claims to show a textbook for Ukrainian high school students that omits the regions of Kherson, Zaporizhia, Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk
  • Several graphic inconsistencies actually show that this page of the book was added in
  • The company Картографія ("Cartography"), which publishes the book, confirmed to our editors that it was a fake

The fact-check in detail

"This is the new reality", exclaims a Ukrainian-speaking man as he points to a map in a school textbook for Ukrainian 11th graders. 

In this blue book, he explains that a map of Ukraine does not include the regions of Kherson, Zaporizhia, Kharkiv, Donetsk or Luhansk. Each of these regions is either occupied by Russian troops or an area where separatist groups are operating. It also shows the regions of Lviv and Zakarpattia in the west as no longer being part of the country, without specifying why.

Some of the posts including this video also shared a photo of the map in question, claiming that it is "the new edition" where "half of Ukraine is no longer there". They claim that textbooks have begun to reflect Russian advances.

Screenshot of a Telegram post claiming to show the map of Ukraine published in a textbook for high school students in Ukraine. Click on the image to see the post.
Screenshot of a Telegram post claiming to show the map of Ukraine published in a textbook for high school students in Ukraine. Click on the image to see the post. © Telegram / Newmilitarycolumnist

By doing a reverse image search of the blue cover of this book (click here to find out how), you can find sites offering it for sale, as here. The manual is called "Contour Map History of Ukraine" and is published by the company Картографія ("Cartography", in English).

The company told the FRANCE 24 Observers team that the map presented in the book "is a fake". They sent us a photo of the map of Ukraine's borders visible on page 12 in the 2022 edition.

Comparing the graphic style of the real textbook with the one shown in the video, there are several clues that the map with half of Ukraine's territory cut off is fake.

First, the page number in the top right corner and the title of the map are not visible.

On the page in the video, the page number and title of the map are not visible.
On the page in the video, the page number and title of the map are not visible. © Telegram

The maps in the real manual are blue and have outlines, which is not the case in the maps in the video.

Finally, as the site Gwaramedia.com notes, there are staples clearly visible in the pages in the video. Usually, you can only see staples when a book is opened in its centre pages.

A staple is visible in the middle of the two maps.
A staple is visible in the middle of the two maps. © Telegram

For this 12-page handbook, the centre pages would be pages six and seven. But those pages should look like the ones in the photo below.

Copy of pages six and seven of the 2022 edition of the book.
Copy of pages six and seven of the 2022 edition of the book. © Картографія

The maps visible in the book as shown in the video, especially the one the bottom on the supposed page seven, do not correspond to those in the actual school book.

The current borders were officially established by the Ukrainian law "On the Legal Succession of Ukraine" on September 12, 1991 and "On the State Border of Ukraine" on November 4, 1991. There are still points of dispute, notably concerning Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, and the municipality of Sevastopol where a Russian naval base is located.