Reuters Uses Image of Men with Paintball Guns for Ukraine Story

Reuters made a questionable cover photo selection in an article about the conflict in Ukraine. For a recent news story on a reported Ukrainian assault in the Sumy region, the outlet went with a picture of soldiers armed with paintball guns.

Ukraine says it has repelled Russian incursion in Sumy region https://t.co/dE81E0R9P6 pic.twitter.com/une4hkj0M6

— Reuters (@Reuters) May 16, 2022

The photo shows several military gear-clad men crouched in a defensive position with weapons. A close examination of the photo reveals that the men are armed with paintball guns. As would be expected, many Twitter users found the notion of insurgents fighting off a hostile foreign invasion with paintball guns to be absurd. A barrage of ridicule ensued.

With paintball guns? Impressive. https://t.co/ZJFWR2AadY

— Lafayette Lee (@Partisan_O) May 16, 2022

Did America just spend $40 billion to buy Ukraine paintball gear???

— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) May 16, 2022

pic.twitter.com/nntXWI4j1f

— The Right To Bear Memes (@grandoldmemes) May 16, 2022

This is not the first time that corporate media outlets have used questionable or misleading graphics. It is unclear whether or not this was intentional, or just a mistake. A famous example of a similar occurrence was in 2019 when ABC News used footage from a gun range in Kentucky to insinuate that the Turkish military was firing on Kurdish forces after then-President Trump withdrew US troops.

The war between Russia and Ukraine has proved to be full of conflicting media narratives. In many instances, media outlets and politicians have taken and run with uncorroborated reports as well as in some cases, internet memes. Before Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) fell for the “Samuyil” Hyde meme, imagery from a video game was used to depict the now widely debunked “Ghost of Kyiv” story.

It’s real. pic.twitter.com/x0ebd9Lmzf

— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) February 26, 2022

Before Russia invaded Ukraine, stories and images of women taking up arms to fight the would-be invading forces were ubiquitous across western media. One such story that gained a lot of attention involved former Miss Ukraine Anastasiia Lenna. Lenna posted a picture of herself with a gun to Instagram, suggesting that she was ready to fight for her country. Some corporate outlets picked up the story, not realizing that the former beauty queen was holding an airsoft gun that shoots plastic pellets.

Hey, @BusinessInsider, @natmusumeci this story is all fake…https://t.co/XdmADJn2WK

Might want to fix it.

— Henry Rodgers (@henryrodgersdc) February 28, 2022

There have been other examples of corporate press outlets and politicians sharing similar images, including images and videos taken from video games, as well as a video from the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014.

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