Online disinformation about the Polish and Finnish armies has been circulating online amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Social media users have falsely suggested that the two European Union member states are preparing to go to war or engage in military conflict.
Investigations by Euronews and other independent fact-checkers have found the claims to be false and the alleged video evidence has been taken out of context.
In times of conflict and crisis, when people crave details about the war, misinformation can be just as viral as fact-checked.
Moscow and Kyiv used social media to spread their propaganda, while pro-Kremlin users also spread false claims.
Poland is NOT preparing to invade Ukrainian territory
A recent viral video falsely claimed that Poland was preparing to send troops to western Ukraine to confront Russia.
The footage – which includes the BBC News logo and branding – alleges Polish military general Yaroslav Mika signed an order to put sections of the army on ‘full alert’.
The video was shared online by users in multiple languages, including Czech, French, Italian, Polish, Russian and Turkish.
But online searches show no record of the BBC ever producing a report on the story, and veteran disinformation journalists in the business declare that the video is “fake”.
The BBC’s branding was also previously used to spread false claims about military strikes on a train station in Kramamtorsk that killed dozens of people.
Poland has led calls for the EU to toughen sanctions against Russia and for the NATO alliance to arm Ukraine during the war.
While Poland has provided military aid to its neighbor, it has expressed no such plans to send troops to Ukrainian territory.
The Polish Armed Forces General Command dismissed the allegations and said any alleged order to move troops was “counterfeit”.
“This is a fake order from the Polish General Staff, the whole document is fake,” his official Twitter account said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday hostile rhetoric was coming out of Poland and suggested Warsaw could be “a source of threat”.
Polish government officials say Moscow and pro-Kremlin social media users are now launching information attacks against the country.
“The Polish general’s fake order, created for propaganda purposes, was used for disinformation activities against Poland,” said Stanisław Żaryn, spokesman for Poland’s Ministry of Special Services.
“The order was used to legitimize insinuations about Polish plans to attack western Ukraine,” he added. said on Twitter.
“[These] are all indications that Russia is carrying out a coordinated information operation against Poland.”
Warsaw says it has recently stepped up its efforts to counter the spread of “disinformation” disseminated by Russia.
Finland did NOT send army tanks to Russia’s eastern border
Another viral video has sparked false claims that Finland is preparing to escalate tensions near its 1,340 kilometer border with Russia.
Footage shows a freight train carrying dozens of tanks and military equipment over a railway bridge crossing a town.
Social media users claimed the tanks were being transported to eastern Finland and the Russian border.
The video was widely shared on Facebook, Twitter and Telegram and garnered hundreds of thousands of views in total.
But the Finnish Defense Force said the claims were “false” and that the equipment was moving away from the Russian border.
In a statementthe authority said the tanks were heading for an annual two-week military exercise in western Finland.
“The Armored Brigade will lead the Army’s Arrow 22 mechanized exercise at Pohjankangas Niinisalo and Säkylä,” the Defense Forces said.
“The exercise will involve around 150 armored vehicles and up to 300 other military vehicles,” he added. “The tracked vehicles will be transported by train and equipment carriers to the exercise area.”
By matching the video with images on Google, Euronews discovered that the video was taken in the city of Tampere. The footage shows the train moving west towards the villages of Niinisalo and Säkylä.
Visiting armies from the UK, Latvia, US and Estonia are also expected to take part in the planned military exercises, alongside more than 3,000 Finnish soldiers.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led Finland and Sweden to send assault rifles and anti-tank weapons to kyiv, breaking their policy of not supplying arms to countries at war.
The two EU countries have also considered joining NATO, despite warnings from Moscow.
Russia threatened to strengthen its presence in the Baltic Sea if Finland or Sweden joined the alliance.