Video shows Russia preparing military parade, not 'mobilisation of nuclear weapons'

A video of missiles being transported to Moscow ahead of an annual military parade has been falsely shared in posts that claimed it showed nuclear weapons moved on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin after he warned the West against sending troops to aid Ukraine. The footage was in fact filmed before Putin issued the warning about the "real" risk of nuclear war in February 2024.

"Vladimir Putin ordered a nationwide transfer of nuclear weapons!" read the simplified Chinese caption of a video on X that was shared on February 29, 2024.

It shows military vehicles driving down a highway at night. They appear to be transporting missiles, and are affixed with a Russian flag and the flag of the military's Strategic Missile Forces (archived link).

The clip was shared after Putin warned of a "real" risk of nuclear war if the West were to send troops to fight in Ukraine, which has been at war since Russia invaded in February 2022.

"The consequences for possible interventionists will be much more tragic," he said in an annual address to the nation from Moscow.

Screenshot on the false X post, captured on May 21, 2024

The video was shared in similar posts on TikTok and Chinese video-sharing platform Bilibili.

The video, however, circulated before Putin's nuclear warning.

Military parade

A reverse image search and keyword searches on Google found the video was posted on Telegram by the Russian defence ministry on February 27 (archived link).

According to the Telegram post, the video shows Yars missiles deployed in the Ivanovo region arriving in Alabino near Moscow ahead of a military parade on Red Square.

The annual Victory Day parade on May 9 commemorates the Soviet Union's defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II and has become Russia's most important public holiday.

In a defiant speech at the parade, Putin reiterated that his nuclear forces were "always" on alert.

Less than a fortnight later, Moscow announced that tactical nuclear weapons drills would start close to Ukraine, in what it said was a response to Western "threats".

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video shared in the false posts (left) and in the Russian defence ministry's Telegram post (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video shared in the false posts (left) and in the Russian defence ministry''s Telegram post (right)

The same video was shared by Russian television channel Vmeste-RF, while the images taken from the clips were also published by the state-run news agency RIA (archived links here and here).

According to Russia's state-run TASS news agency, personnel and military equipment from the Teikovo missile formation in the Ivanovo region have participated in military parades on Red Square since 2008 (archived link).

The Russian defence ministry has also previously published footage showing the transportation of military equipment to the Victory Day parade (archived link).

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