Reuters reported on Monday that Ukrainian soldiers had been successful in driving Russian occupation forces back across the Russian border in the Sumy region — and while the report in itself was good news, the photo Reuters tweeted with the story quickly raised some eyebrows.
“Ukraine says it has repelled Russian incursion in Sumy region,” the caption read.
“Dmytro Zhyvytsky wrote on the Telegram messaging app that the Russian group entered Ukrainian territory under the cover of mortar shells, grenades and machine gun fire but retreated after the border guards fought back,” Reuters reported in the attached article, noting that Zhyvytsky’s account had not been independently verified but later adding, “Separately, a spokesman for Ukraine’s border guards said in televised comments that the danger posed by Russian shelling in the Chernihiv and Sumy regions remained but that the border was under control in both places.”
— Reuters (@Reuters) May 16, 2022
But it was the photo featured with the article in the tweet from Reuters’ official account that provoked a series of reactions — mainly because critics claimed it was a photo of soldiers training in paintball gear.
Some of the responses included:
- @primoradical: “BREAKING: Entire Russian army defeated by Ukrainian paintball team.”
- @charlestonbrian: “Yeah @Reuters not the best look when you use a pic of them training with paintball guns instead of an actual picture from that battle.”
- @sethdillon: “How does the fact that they did it with paintball guns not make the headline?”
- @themfingcoo: “A war that needs $40 billion dollars would have enough REAL footage of fighting to avoid using stock photos with paintball guns wouldn’t it?”
- @nedryun: “With paintball guns? That’s next level impressive …”
- @dolioj: “The other day, when I expressed doubt about a Reuters story, some of you scoffed about my doubt. Here is Reuters telling you that the Ukrainians repelled a Russian assault, WHILE USING PAINTBALL GUNS. Come on people. The Ukrainians are good, but not that good.”
- @janeymackwriter: “Reuters: forever raising the Fake News bar.”
- @chrismartenson: “Ukraine repelled Russia … with paintball guns? That’s totally badass, @Reuters!”
“Reuters showing bros playing paintball to advocate for war in Ukraine is like @CNN showing submerged Anderson to scare us about #ClimateChange,” Daniela Turner added, including a photo of his own.
— Daniel Turner (@DanielTurnerPTF) May 16, 2022
Documentarian Ford Fischer provided a little bit of context, noting that Reuters may have chosen that photo simply because there were no frontline reporters or photographers providing them with real time photos and footage.
“Frontline journalism right now is so scarce in Ukraine that Reuters is illustrating stories about actual combat with photos of Ukrainian forces training using paintball guns,” he said.