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: On the morning of January 25, a Telegram user posted a video of a train loaded with tanks and wrote that “in several regions of Europe there were active movements of tanks to NATO’s eastern borders” and that in the video “a train with Leopard 2 tanks of the Bundeswehr on the way to the east”.
A Twitter user posted another video of a tank train, claiming that it was in Hosena “ready for transport to Ukraine.” Another Twitter account posted the video with the exact same text.
DW fact check: Wrong.
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 in Russian and Portuguese, among other languages, that German tanks were moving east.
Wrong, says the Eichsfeld CDU member of parliament Thadäus König, who published the video on April 27, 2022 with a clarification on his Facebook account.
“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) as planned and are now returning to their home barracks,” says König. Local media also reported on it.
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 was on platform 2 of the Heiligenstadt train station in the Eichsfeld district 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, as the comparison with pictures of the train station shows.
A spokesman for the Bundeswehr’s Territorial Command 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 used as part of the enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup in Lithuania.” 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 showing that Europe is preparing to attack Russia. According to the motto: Get ready. That’s why we have to mobilize even more,” said Osadchuk.
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, even 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 involves the transport of tanks to a NATO mission in Lithuania. None of the arms shipments are related to the Ukraine war.
Author: Joscha Weber
The original to this post “No, these videos do not show Leopard 2 deliveries to Ukraine” comes from Deutsche Welle.