By: Ankita Kulkarni
May 22 2023
The video dates back to 2021 and shows the day the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan. It is not related to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
A video circulating on social media claims that NATO forces have arrived in Ukraine to support the country’s fight against the Russian invasion. The video shows an airplane runway surrounded by thousands of people. We can observe two helicopters flying above while an aircraft is about to take off. The video also shows several military vehicles and army forces carrying weapons. The overlaid text on the video reads, "Is World war 3 already startin it like a dream (sic)" and “NATO soldiers now in Ukraine."
The post has garnered 496,000 views and 4,301 likes on Twitter. The video is also being widely shared on TikTok with similar narratives. However, this photo is from the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, and not the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A reverse image search led us to a TikTok video posted by a user who said the original video was from 2021 when the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan. The now-viral clip is part of a longer video shared with the caption, "A US military helicopter dispersed the crowd on the runway on Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport."
We then checked videos from the day the U.S. withdrew its troops from Afghanistan and found this video was shared on Facebook by a page called Aviators Maldives on August 18, 2021. The bio of the account states that it is a news website based in the Maldives. The video was shared with the caption, "More scenes #Kabul Airport in #Afghanistan. Reportedly, the # U.S. Military #Apache Helicopters were used to chase people and clear the runway to allow the C17 aircraft to takeoff."
NBC News also shared visuals from the airport on that day, which show several Afghanistan citizens running alongside the U.S. aircraft as they attempted to leave along with it. AP News reported that the airport witnessed similar scenes over the following days, as people tried to escape ahead of the Taliban’s plan to enforce its rule from August 15, 2021. U.S. President Joe Biden announced the complete withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan by August 31, 2021.
This proves that the video in circulation pre-dates the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and is, in fact, from Afghanistan.
NATO has been supporting Ukraine's fight against Russia by reforming Ukraine's armed forces and defense institutions, including equipment and financial support. It has also provided training for Ukrainian troops and medical rehabilitation, but there are no reports of NATO forces going to Ukraine.
NATO has maintained that it is “not to be part of the conflict.” NATO's secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, on March 1, 2022, emphasized that “NATO is not going to send the troops into Ukraine or move planes into Ukrainian airspace.”
An old and unrelated video showing the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 has been falsely shared as NATO forces deployed in Ukraine. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.