Have you seen Oliver Stone’s latest documentary, The Putin Interviews? The four-part series is getting a lot of flack in the American press for being a love letter to Vladimir Putin. But there’s one scene in particular that’s now getting extra scrutiny. Putin appears to be helping spread fake news.
The third part of the four-hour documentary features a scene where Putin pulls out a smartphone and shows Stone what he says are Russian forces fighting ISIS in Syria. The only problem? The footage actually shows Americans fighting against Taliban forces in Afghanistan in 2009.
You can watch our side-by side of the two films here. The video is pretty graphic, so viewer discretion is advised.
Facebook user Fedir Panasenko was one of the first people to notice that something was amiss with the documentary footage. Panasenko linked to what he believed was the original video from 2013. But I was able to track down the original video, hosted on Military.com, which is actually from 2009.
As you can see, the original video has American pilots speaking English as they blow up and shoot at what are purported to be Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
The 2013 video on YouTube (which is correctly labeled as Americans fighting against Taliban) has been viewed over a million times, so it’s no surprise that it has been recut and re-uploaded for other purposes. The footage that Putin shows Stone appears to have been re-dubbed in Russian and uploaded to YouTube in March of 2016—or at least one version with very few views.
It purportedly shows Russian Mi-28 helicopters, according to the YouTube description. But, again, it’s actually from 2009 and shows Apache helicopters. The footage was uploaded to Military.com in 2012.
For all we know, Putin actually believes the footage is from Russia’s fight against ISIS. But it’s not. We’ve reached out to Oliver Stone’s representatives for comment this morning and will update this post if we hear back.
Remember when Donald Trump tweeted out a video that purported to show how someone who rushed the stage during one of his rallies was a member of ISIS? Trump defended his tweet by saying “all I know is what’s on the internet.” Putin could very well be in the same boat in this case.
It appears President Trump and Vladimir Putin might have even more in common than we first thought. They’re not evil geniuses playing 10D chess. They just believe everything they see on the internet.
Update, June 22, 2017: Oliver Stone never replied to our request for comment, but said this on Russian state TV:
Update, June 22, 2017: And the Moscow Times is reporting that Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov insists the Russian Defense Ministry gave Putin the footage.
“[Claims that the footage is American] are not true. I can confirm that these materials come from a report from the Ministry of Defense which was given to the president,” Peskov said. “Statements [to the contrary] are incorrect and irrelevant.”
Correction: The caption on the top GIF originally said “ISIS” instead of “Taliban.” I regret the error.