On March 18, the head of the Russian delegation that is negotiating with Ukrainian officials said the parties have come closer to an agreement on a neutral status for Ukraine following the deadly invasion that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin launched on Feb. 24.
Despite reports that the negotiations are ongoing, a video posted to Twitter on March 16 appears to show Putin announcing that peace had been reached between Russia and Ukraine.
The tweet, written in Russian and translated via Google Translate, said: “The President of the Russian Federation announced the surrender of Russia. Russian soldier, drop your weapons and go home while you're alive!” In the video, Putin allegedly says peace had been met after successful negotiations with Ukraine.
Several online users asked VERIFY if this video was real.
Is the video of Russian President Vladimir Putin announcing Russia’s surrender real?
No, the video is not real. The video was taken from footage of an address to Russia that Putin gave on Feb. 21, prior to the invasion.
Doctored audio was added to the video to make it appear as though Putin was giving an announcement of peace. VERIFY was unable to confirm who created the doctored audio.
WHAT WE FOUND
In the video claiming to show Russian President Vladimir Putin declaring peace, Putin looks into the camera from behind a desk to announce that negotiations had been held with Ukraine, and ended successfully for the Russian side.
Using InVID, a video forensics tool, VERIFY was able to conduct a reverse image search from a single frame from the viral video. VERIFY found the original source of the video, posted to the Kremlin's website on Feb. 21, prior to the invasion of Ukraine. The audio, however, is not the same.
The doctored audio was added to the original video. Twitter posted a “manipulated media” disclaimer to the footage. VERIFY was unable to confirm the origin of the edited audio, and when searching for the transcription in Russian and in English, there were no search results.
An audio analysis shows the audio in the fake video is different from the original audio from Putin’s Feb. 21 address.
VERIFY can confirm the video footage is from the Feb. 21 address because Putin’s hand gestures and seated posture are identical in both videos, he is wearing the same suit and necktie and the background is the same. The only difference between the two clips is the audio.
In the real video from February, Putin addressed the nation and recognized the independence of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. The Associated Press covered his address and also included a still image, provided to the AP by Sputnik, in which Putin can be seen wearing the same outfit and sitting at the same desk that is shown in the video. Sputnik is Russia's state-run media.
In the edited video with the doctored audio posted on Twitter in March, Putin does not speak about the independence of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.
“I will briefly inform you. We have achieved peace with Ukraine, with Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders with the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. We agreed that we will jointly create a large fund with the participation of the EU and the U.S. to restore infrastructure in these Ukrainian regions. We also signed a five-year roadmap for restoring the independence of Crimea as a republic within Ukraine,” Putin appears to say.
“In the negotiations, I was guided by one principle to preserve the peace and life of the Slavic peoples. The Russian language will remain in Ukraine, and there will be no harassment, as well as harassment of the Russian population,” he appears to say. “This is precisely and unambiguously spelled out in the peace agreements. Life and peace go on. Thank you for your attention! And your work, dear Russians!”
The Kremlin posted a full transcription from his original address to the nation. What he says in the edited version of the video does not appear anywhere in his Feb. 21 speech.
Putin and his likeness have not been the only target of manipulation. On March 16, a video claiming to show Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calling for the Ukrainian people to surrender to Russia went viral. VERIFY confirmed the Zelenskyy video was a deepfake.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.