Score it another “not independently confirmed” tale flowing from Vladimir Putin’s self-inflicted nightmare. Video has arisen of a hovering Ukraine drone being given the finger by an ill-advisedly smug Russian soldier, whose unit is purportedly soon blasted from above by dropped munitions. So much for sneering defiance.
The drone video capturing what – if authentic – would represent symbolically delicious comeuppance to Russian forces and leaders who thought storming Ukraine would be a cake walk first surfaced on Twitter Sunday. Posted on the account of Ukraine Weapons Tracker, the tweeted footage is said to feature a UAV somewhere in the embattled east of the nation as it locates Russian soldiers loading up an armored personnel carrier. Later segments of the clip show falling grenades or Molotov cocktails turning the vehicle – and presumably gesture-regretting soldiers – into a charred mess.
The 96-second video cuts from clearer initial images shot by what’s presumably a smaller Ukraine drone to grainy screen shots of munitions being dropped on the Russian target – the latter possibly by a larger, maybe even military-grade craft. The finer points of the attack are not specified.
One detail some observers could make out in the video for themselves, however, was that of a Russian soldier catching sight of the Ukraine surveillance drone, and extending his middle finger to convey his contempt for the peeping enemy craft. Subsequent shots of the armored vehicle in post-bombing ruin suggest the sentiment was mutual.
“00:17. Drone is spotted and given the middle finger,” a respondent called Scilentor tweeted. “Yet knowing they have been spotted via drone they decide to (expletive) around and find out.”
“Two bottles of Molotov for a finger,” added Freedom Fighter. “Seems fair to me.”
Given the wanton carnage Moscow’s invasion has inflicted on Ukraine – and the additional atrocities some Russian soldiers have piled atop that – it’s only natural that detractors of Putin’s war cheered the drone video for capturing the most ruthless serving of just desserts since Carrie dished out her brand of payback to merciless tormentors. Addition of “The Flight of the Valkyries” as the soundtrack might also have helped inflamed payback passions a tad.
But as with everything issuing from this disinformation generating conflict, it’s probably wise to step back and factor in at least a bit of potentially party-pooping scrutiny, if not healthy skepticism.
For starters, the buildings surrounding the Russian armored vehicle in the grainy shots during the bombing phase don’t resemble those in the earlier reconnaissance footage featuring L-shaped structures (and the infamous flipped bird). At the end, in clearer shots from what may have been the first drone returning after the munitions raid, a fire-ravaged carrier is easily visible – but parked in an entirely different spot than the one in opening sequences.
Perhaps Russian soldiers who weren’t busy making obscene hand signals moved it between times. Maybe the explosions blew the vehicle to another spot. Or, the video could be a deft bit of splicing in the service of a virtuous storytelling mission. All options seem possible.
Yet as with much of what’s posted on social media anymore – and the heated arguments that politically partisan content sparks – it may be the video of the Ukraine drone(s) meting out the ultimate punishment on hubristic Russian soldiers is like a lot of what’s online these days: mattering less whether it’s true or not, so long as it evokes a reality approving observers want to believe.