Now it’s official: Germany delivers. After days of discussion and speculation, the German government has announced that Germany will supply 14 Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks to Ukraine and will also allow other countries to supply Leopard tanks. Even before the announcement, videos were already circulating that allegedly show the delivery of German Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. The videos were posted on Telegram, Tiktok, Twitter and VK, among others, and were viewed tens of thousands of times. Were the tanks actually loaded onto trains bound for Ukraine before the announcement?
Claim: A Telegram user posted on the morning of Jan. 25 Video of a train loaded with tanks and writes that “in several regions of Europe there are active movements of tanks to the eastern borders of NATO” and that the video shows “a train with Leopard 2 tanks of the Bundeswehr on the way to the east”. be. A Twitter user posted another Video of a tank train and claims that he is “ready for transport to the Ukraine” in Hosena. Another Twitter account posted this Video with the exact same text.
DW fact check: Not correct.
The videos do not show tank deliveries to Ukraine. In the case of the Telegram video, a reverse image search with the Yandex search engine leads to significantly older versions of the video that were published on May 1, 2022. At that time, too, users claimed, among other things, Russian and Portuguesethat German tanks were moving east. Wrong, says the Eichsfeld CDU member of the state parliament, Thadäus König, who recorded the video on April 27, 2022 with a clarification on his Facebook account published. “These are battle tanks from the Thuringian tank battalion 393 from Bad Frankenhausen. The tanks had taken part in the major military exercise “Wettin Sword” in the combat training center in the Altmark (Saxony-Anhalt) and are now returning to their home barracks,” says König. About that reported also local media. A spokesman for the Bundeswehr Territorial Command confirmed to DW: The video shows tanks from Panzer Battalion 393 being transported back to their home barracks in Bad Frankenhausen. We were able to verify the location of the event in the video: The armored train got up Platform 2 of the Heiligenstadt train station in the district of Eichsfeld and the video is not related to a tank delivery to Ukraine.
The second video, showing a tank transport at a snowy train station, is newer and, to our knowledge, probably dates from January 22 of this year. Apparently it actually shows the train station in Hosena, like the comparison with Pictures of the train station indicates. A spokesman for the Territorial Command of the Bundeswehr
DW confirmed to DW that the armored train shown was not a premature delivery to Ukraine, but a routine exchange of troops and material from a NATO mission in Lithuania. “The sighted rail transports of German Leopard 2 battle tanks can be assigned to a routine rotation of German forces stationed in Lithuania. The battle tanks were deployed in Lithuania as part of the enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup.” There is no connection to the planned tank deliveries to Ukraine.
For Roman Osadchuck, it is no coincidence that such videos surrounding the decision to supply Germany’s tanks to Ukraine are circulating en masse. He researches Russian propaganda narratives and disinformation techniques in the Digital Forensic Research Lab of the think tank Atlantic Council. “From a Russian perspective, the dissemination of such content can serve the purpose of making it clear that Europe is getting ready to attack Russia. According to the motto: They are getting ready. That’s why we have to mobilize even more,” Osadchuk said. Osadchuk, who has been observing this phenomenon since the beginning of the war, believes that other users could simply be interested in the distribution of such content for attention, i.e. likes, shares and the like.
Conclusion: Both videos do not show any premature delivery of German Leopard 2 tanks before the German government’s decision to do so was announced. One case concerns the transport of tanks to an exercise in Germany, the other case concerns the transport of tanks to a NATO mission in Lithuania. None of the arms shipments are related to the Ukraine war.