Editor’s note: This story contains graphic content.
On March 11, the official Twitter account for Ukraine’s parliament posted a startling video that appears to show a woman standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, right before the tower is struck by bombs.
“Would the famous Eiffel Tower in #Paris or the Brandenburg Gate in #Berlin remain standing under endless bombing of Russian troops? Do you think that does not concern you? Today it’s #Ukraine, tomorrow it will be the whole of #Europe. Russia will stop at nothing,” the tweet said. That video had more than 2.2 million views.
Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Oleksandr Merezhko also posted the video.
The events depicted in the video are not real; Paris is not currently being bombed. But online, people wonder if the Ukrainian government commissioned the video to spread anti-Russia propaganda.
Did the Ukrainian government commission a propaganda video showing Paris being bombed?
- French film producer Jean-Charles Lévy
- Film director Olias Barco
No, the Ukrainian government did not create or commission a video depicting Paris being bombed. Jean-Charles Lévy, the video producer, told VERIFY he and director Olias Barco created it to spread awareness on what could happen if Russia continues its invasions. They did not receive payment from anyone, including the Ukrainian government, for the video.
WHAT WE FOUND
The video starts with a woman posing in front of the the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. The tower appears to then be struck by bombs, and the woman runs off camera. Screams can be heard in the background.
The video then shows jets flying overhead, with air raid sirens sounding in the background. The video shows a destroyed Eiffel Tower and other other buildings in Paris. A message in English appears at the end of the video: “Just think if this were to happen in another European capital.”
A quote from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also appears on the screen: “We will fight to the end. Giving us a chance to live. Close the sky over Ukraine, or give us air fighters. If we fall, you fall.”
Even though the video has been widely shared by Ukrainian government social media accounts, it was not created by the Ukrainian government, French film producer Jean-Charles Lévy told VERIFY via phone.
Lévy and French film director Olias Barco created the video. The pair wanted to raise awareness to show the world that what is happening in Ukraine can happen anywhere, Lévy told VERIFY. Barco spoke with French publication Le Monde from a location in Western Ukraine and echoed those sentiments.
“[The video is] something I wanted to do myself, with producer Jean-Charles Lévy, to give the West an electric shock. For me, we are in a third world war and this conflict will generalize. It's a science fiction film, not a propaganda film,” Barco told Le Monde in French. Barco’s quotes were translated using Google Translate.
Lévy and Barco have been working in Ukraine for about four years and instead of posting the video to their social media accounts, they sent it directly to people they knew in Ukraine with the hope it would then be spread online. Lévy said he is surprised by how viral the clip has gotten. He has since posted the video to his own Instagram account.
“It went viral because it strikes people, which is what we wanted,” Lévy said. “What is important to understand is that the idea was not to create propaganda or spread false information. We don’t want people to look at a piece of fiction … and start thinking that is the concept. We are filmmakers who have the means and tools we can use to tell people what’s happening and what could happen.”
Using visualizations to create an air attack on Paris was part of the plan – to try to show the world that Ukraine needs air support or a no-fly zone in order to defeat Russia, Lévy said. Military analysts say it is unlikely that the U.S Britain and their European allies will impose a no-fly zone because it could easily escalate the war in Ukraine into a nuclear confrontation between NATO and Russia, the Associated Press reported.
“What Ukraine needs now more than ever is the means to defend themselves from the air. That’s what’s killing them,” Lévy said.