Social media posts share false claim about 'NATO-supplied fighter jets arriving in Ukraine'

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A claim that NATO has sent fighter jets to Ukraine to help the country fight invading Russian forces was shared by multiple social media posts in August 2022. The claim, however, is false. While there was a proposal in March to supply Ukraine with Soviet-era jets through a US air base, Washington rejected the idea over fears it could escalate the conflict. Separately, NATO's press office told AFP that the claim was "not accurate".

The claim was shared on Facebook here on August 8, 2022.

The post links to a page titled "Finally: NATO's Most Lethal Fighter Jets Arrive in Ukraine" whose thumbnail shows a partially disassembled fighter jet being unloaded from a cargo plane.

The page includes an embedded YouTube video with the same title and thumbnail that was uploaded on August 6 and has more than 335,000 views.

A voiceover in the video says the transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine is a "possibility" but adds that the move has been "actively discussed". The rest of the video details the capabilities of various US military aircraft.

A screenshot of the misleading post, captured on September 9, 2022

The claim and links to the video were also shared on Facebook here; and on Twitter here and here.

AFP reported in March 2022 that Poland -- a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) -- had proposed supplying Ukraine with its Soviet-era MiG-29 jets through a US air force base.

Warsaw suggested the US would then replace these jets in Poland's fleet with American F-16 fighter jets.

The plan was rejected by Washington as being too "high risk", as Russia could interpret the move as a military escalation.

While individual countries in the Western military and political alliance have supplied Ukraine with arms and equipment, as of September 12, 2022 there have been no reports of NATO supplying fighter jets to Ukraine.

A NATO press officer also denied the claim the bloc had supplied fighter jets to Ukraine.

"These claims are not accurate and NATO is not part of the conflict," the officer said.

A reverse image search of the video's thumbnail found it was used on the website of Code One Magazine, which is published by US defence contractor Lockheed Martin.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image in the misleading post (left) and on the Code One Magazine website (right):

A screenshot comparison of the image in the misleading post (left) and on the Code One Magazine website (right)

The picture's caption says it shows a F-22 fighter jet arriving at an air base in California on February 5, 1998.

A similar fact check was first published by Lead Stories.

AFP has published hundreds of stories in multiple languages that detail false and misleading claims related to the war in Ukraine. The complete list of stories in English is available here.

Ukraine conflict