One of the videos allegedly shows the bombing on Monday of a Russian border post in the Rostov region, which runs along Ukraine’s eastern border.
Separately, the Southern Military District of Russia, according to the state news agency RIA-Novosti, reported that five people from the sabotage team were “liquidated”.
The Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Alexander Bortnikov, spoke about “accidents of shelling on the territory of the Russian Federation, especially in the Rostov region,” and said that “two Ukrainian military sabotage groups arrived at the border with the Russian Federation in the Luhansk region, coming from Mariupol.”
Bortnikov said these types of incidents had caused a “deterioration of the situation” in the separatist territories and that “Ukrainian security forces” were to blame.
But the videos that emerged as purported evidence of those incidents were not made public by the Russian media.
The first video, which allegedly shows a border post inside Russian territory that has been bombed by Ukrainian forces, first appeared on pro-Russian Telegram channels and on RIA-Novosti on Monday morning.
Other Russian media have further muddied the waters – reporting locations in the south, in the direction of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol – and in the north near the Russian village of Mitkinskaya.
However, CNN’s analysis of the two videos confirms that they were filmed in a common location, just a few meters away from each other. There were no views hundreds of kilometers apart.
Furthermore, geolocation shows that the two videos were filmed on the border between the breakaway pro-Russian Donetsk People’s Republic and Russia, rather than in an area on – or near – the border controlled by Ukrainian forces.
As the UK-based Resilience Center found for the first time, the video site is located within the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On the same site is the second video, as first identified by open source intelligence analyst John Markey.
Then a third video emerged purporting to show a Ukrainian armored vehicle used in the alleged incursion that appeared in the second video. The car was shown after it was destroyed.
However, people were quick to spot the inconsistencies in the video.
Analysts at Janes, a defense intelligence provider, told CNN that the vehicle shown in the video “is likely to be a Russian upgrade” although it is difficult to be absolutely certain it is not in Ukrainian service.
The Russians also reported that a Ukrainian soldier was captured during this alleged incursion, but his identity has not been revealed. For their part, the Ukrainians say that all their soldiers are reckoned. Nothing is missing. No one was killed at the border.
There is no way to link the release of the videos to any official or state-run media; They all appeared from private accounts. But the fact that it emerged so soon after these alleged incidents were reported is ambiguous.
One Ukrainian official, who was shown a helmet camera video, called the film “Bollywood”. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described the videos as coming straight from the “fake factory” in Russia.
But for the Kremlin, and its carefully orchestrated grievances on Monday, it served its purpose.
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