False: Ukrainian nationals were arrested for selling Stinger missiles in Bremen, Germany.

By: Annie Priya
September 28 2022

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False: Ukrainian nationals were arrested for selling Stinger missiles in Bremen, Germany.


The Verdict False

Bremen Police have denied the claim saying they haven't made any such arrests. The video in question is manipulated.

Claim ID c7f7dbb6


In mid-September, a video started circulating on Twitter claiming that Bremen Police in Germany arrested some Ukrainians after discovering trafficking of heavy weapons. The weapons are said to have been sold illegally. In the 7-second video, a portable rocket launcher can be seen lying on the ground. Also, various voices can be heard in the background shouting at once. The caption accompanying this clip reads, "A student in Bremen, Germany, found an online store selling Stingers and alerted the police. Journalists from Hamburg and other cities have already discovered that the weapons were meant for the Kharkov counteroffensive, yet they ended up on the European black market." 

In fact:

The Bremen Police denied the claim via Twitter on September 18. They said, "Bremen Police had nothing to do with this video and did not arrest Ukrainians who dealt in weapons." While going through the comments of the tweet in question, we found that one of the Twitter users indicated that the audio in the video was copied from another video that was published on YouTube in January 2022, showing police officers in Greiz, a town in Thuringia, which is more than 400 kilometers from Bremen.

On September 19, local magazine Buten un Binnen from Radio Bremen published an article covering the claim on similar grounds. The article reported that the soundtrack comes from another video saying, "Put down your cell phone, you don't have to film something like that." However, it is still unclear who exactly is behind the distribution of the video in question.

While searching for the origin of the manipulated video, we came across several Russian media reports and social media posts showing the footage, along with an attached letter claiming that Ukraine received a request from Germany to check the serial numbers of several Stingers. The claim goes on to say that the seized weapons were found on the ship "Floriana." Allegedly, the weapons were accompanied by Ukrainians on their way to Turkey, who were arrested. Another Russian article published by Rusnext stated that the ship "Floriana" is also said to sail under the Ukrainian flag. However, VesselFinder, a website that displays real-time ship positions and marine traffic detected by the global AIS network, shows that no ship with that name sails under the Ukrainian flag.

Ukrainian fact-checking website Stopfake analyzed the letter and called it a fake. At the bottom of the letter was a QR code and a barcode. Both have been tagged with a date and a document number. However, the date and document number do not match. The counterfeiters swapped the date under the barcode in the alleged letter but didn't create a new QR code. When scanned, the number that the QR code contains is 220/3034 - the same code was previously used for another fake letter, explained Stopfake.

Misinformation and false claims targeting both sides have accompanied the Russian-Ukraine conflict ever since it started. Many of these claims have been debunked by Logically and other fact-checking organizations.

Germany's armed force website shows that the weapon seen in the viral video appears to be a Stinger man-portable surface-to-air missile. It is indicated by the elongated tubular shape and the dismantled grip of the weapon. According to the Federal Government, Germany has delivered 500 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine to help fight the Russian invasion. Also, under Section 22 of the War Weapons Control Act, trading war weapons without the federal government's approval is prohibited in Germany. It can be punished with up to ten years in prison.

The verdict:

The widely shared video has been manipulated. Neither the Bremen Police nor the public prosecutor's office has acknowledged the alleged discovery of weapons or arrests in a case of weapons smuggling. Hence, we have marked this claim as false.

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