Russia’s attempts to shore up its military resources in Ukraine have painted a picture of an increasingly shaken Moscow, agitated by increasing counter-offensives against its troops.
As Ukraine retook territory in all four regions that Putin claimed to have annexed just days ago, Moscow continued to deploy vast amounts of equipment and vehicles, some previously described as obsolete or faulty.
Amid reports of plummeting morale among its soldiers and opposition from some of its new conscripts, Russia’s military prowess appears arguably more devastating, reactionary and desperate than at any time during the conflict.
In what seemed like another example of an ill-prepared strategy, a photo shared on social media even showed Moscow using equipment made hundreds of years ago.
A tweet, released October 3, 2022, featured a photo of what appeared to be an antiquated cannon being brought to Ukraine. The tweet received more than 28,000 engagements.
Several other accounts re-shared the post or posted the same image, which was seen by tens of thousands of social media users.
Ukraine has made a number of astounding (though not yet verified) claims about Russian equipment it recently destroyed.
Since the beginning of the war on February 24, 2022, Russia has lost 2,377 tanks, 4,975 armored fighting vehicles, 1,405 artillery units and 1,015 drones, according to Kyiv.
While Russia may be losing some ground in its neighboring country, bringing legacy military hardware to the theater of war has gone too far (at least for now).
The weapon in the photo is of Russian origin; known as the Tsar Cannon, it is believed to be the largest cannon in the world. It was cast in 1586 and made during the tsarist reign by Fyodor Ivanovich, son of Ivan the Terrible.
While there is some speculation as to whether it was ever used (or was instead made for purely ceremonial reasons), some reports suggest that inspectors found traces of gunpowder in its barrel.
It is now ceremoniously housed outside the Kremlin and what appears to be the original photo of the cannon used in the tweet can be found on Wikipedia.
The photo, into which the Tsar Cannon was digitally edited on Twitter, shows a real Russian railway convoy bringing military equipment to the Ukrainian front and was widely shared in the press and on social media.
The image is a still from video circulating in April 2021 amid growing reports of the mass deployment of Russian military vehicles and equipment on the Ukrainian border.
A screengrab was created from the video, which can be seen here from minute 1:16, which was shared at the time and was probably the basis for the edited image.
Although some attempts seem to have been made to make the image appear authentic on Twitter (e.g. through color correction and resolution adjustment), there are still clear signs that it has been edited.
A closer look at the right side of the image, between the cannon and the cart, shows that there is an unnatural perpendicular crop along the trees in the background of the shot. Also, the space beneath the flatbed that the cannon sits on is blurry and flat, as if image artifacts around it have been poorly shaded.
Newsweek could not immediately verify the originator of the manipulated image and whether it was made for satirical or other purposes.
Russia has been much more open in the past week about the extent of its problems in the conflict.
During a conference call, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the borders of illegally annexed Kherson and Zaporizhia have not yet been finalized.
“We will continue to consult with the people living in these regions,” Peskov said, adding that he could not go into detail as to what format the consultation would take.
“I’ve said all I can about that,” he replied when asked for clarification.
The image shared on social media is a photoshopped image of a 16th-century cannon added to a photo of a convoy of Russian military equipment. Known as the Tsar Cannon, the cannon was cast in 1586 and now stands outside the Kremlin.
FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s Fact Checking Team
https://www.newsweek.com/fact-check-did-russia-send-xvi-century-tsar-cannon-ukraine-front-1748491 Did Russia send a 16th-century ‘Tsar Cannon’ to the Ukrainian front?