Russia-Ukraine TikTok Is A Minefield Of Fake Videos & The 'Ghost Of Kyiv' Is One Of Them

They're good stories but they don't hold up 👀

A jet from the alleged "Ghost of Kyiv" video. Right: A girl confronts a soldier.
Global Editorial Fellow

A jet from the alleged "Ghost of Kyiv" video. Right: A girl confronts a soldier.

Have you heard about the "Ghost of Kyiv" fighter pilot, or seen video of a "Ukrainian" girl yelling at a "Russian" soldier?

Well, there's a common thread between them: they're just a few of the many false or misleading videos circulating during the Russia-Ukraine war, as social media companies struggle to keep up with a flood of footage online.

So why are there so many fake stories coming out right now?

According to the Associated Press, Russia is using TikTok as a tool to spread war propaganda.

However, many people have also pounced on feel-good stories involving the Ukrainian side of the fight, and the Ukrainian government has been eager to promote them.

News outlets like Reuters and the New Yorker have even starting calling this the "TikTok War," because there are so many misleading videos going around in support of each side.

Here are a few of the most popular Russia-Ukraine stories you might have seen on TikTok — and the real stories behind them.

The Ghost of Kyiv

This is likely the most notorious video that has been floating around the internet since the first day of the invasion. The "Ghost of Kyiv" video shows a fighter pilot flying around the skies, shooting down several alleged Russian jets at a time.

The pilot has been nicknamed the "Ghost of Kyiv," but Germany's DW news outlet and many others have pointed out that the footage is from a simulator.

In other words, it's not real life.

Twitter has flagged the clip as "out of context," but misleading videos about it are still racking up tens of millions of views on TikTok.

Even the official Ukrainian Twitter accounted tweeted about the mysterious "Ghost of Kyiv," amplifying the misinformation.

The fighter jet that you see flying around is from a 2008 PC game called Digital Combat Simulator, according to reports.

A girl yells at a Russian soldier

This video went viral super quick, with 14 million views to date. It shows what people assume is a Ukrainian girl punching at a Russian soldier.


#ukraine #army #fyp #fyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy #RUSIA #emotional

What people didn't realize is that the video is actually from 2012, and it's from a confrontation between Israeli troops and a Palestinian girl.

Here's a longer version of the video that went up 10 years ago. It's been watched more than 51 million times because it's just that powerful.

While these two stories are the most viral, other videos are constantly being posted that are reusing previous videos or sounds, according to Vox.

That's what happened with the Ghost of Kyiv, and it's not the only case.

Ukraine's deadly 'F--- you' from Snake Island

Another widely-shared story describes how 13 Ukrainian soldiers refused to surrender to a Russian warship on Ukraine's Snake Island.

"Go f--k yourself," they can be heard saying in an audio clip.

Early reports said they were killed shortly afterward, and many news outlets shared that version of the story.


Ukrainian troops were defending a tiny island in the Black Sea before they were killed #ukraine #russia #army #invasion #warship

But they didn't get killed.

The Ukrainian Navy later posted that the soldiers are "alive and well," although they did end up getting captured by Russia.

So what's the lesson?

Don't believe everything you see on TikTok, because there's a PR war going on at the same time as the military one.

Andrew Mrozowski
Global Editorial Fellow