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Don’t believe sensationalised footage of an angel seen during the Russia-Ukraine war

IN SHORT: A video claims to show footage of an “angel” flying through the clouds in September 2023. But the video is one of many showing unrealistic, detailed images appearing in the sky, often uploaded by the same Tiktok account, that all appear to have been edited.

A video posted on Facebook in September 2023 claims to show “an angel sighted during Ukraine war”. 

The footage shows a group of people pointing to the sky just before a winged figure flies across the screen, then disappears behind clouds. The clip has received over 6,000 likes.

While many users commented "Amen" on the post, perhaps signalling their belief in the vision’s heavenly origins, others seemed less convinced. One user said: "So far today, I have seen 4 different videos like this, all with the same soundtrack.” 

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and the war between the two is ongoing. But what’s really happening in the mysterious video? We checked. 

Fake video of an angel in Ukraine

Ignore old video

An internet search revealed that the same video was posted on TikTok in 2022 by a popular account with more than 11 million followers. Part of the account’s bio translates to English as “content creator”. 

The user’s account includes numerous video clips seemingly of angels, holy buildings and other imagery appearing in clouds in handheld video footage. 

The imagery may have been created by the Tiktok user. While the footage seems to be real, the imagery looks doctored, both in the current clip and the many others posted by the same user. 

The background noise in the video in question is identical to the sound in at least one other video on the user's timeline, drawing into question the authenticity of the footage. At one point someone in the background  appears to be shouting “s'il vous plaît, s'il vous plaît”, French for “please, please”, which also seems unlikely if the footage were really from Ukraine.

Scientists call the phenomenon of seeing the shapes of familiar objects, places or figures in clouds, rock formations or other surfaces pareidolia. But this imagery is usually clearly formed from the cloud or rock – or slice of toast – itself, and doesn’t appear as a separate, detailed object. This is unlike the angel figure in this video clip, which appears detached from the clouds.  

Similar examples have been debunked before, including by Politifact here and in this USA Today article. It appears that angels are often linked in footage like this to locations where there are wars or conflicts, like Ukraine. 

One of the debunks, from Factly in May 2022, focused on a clip uploaded by the same Tiktok account as the video in question, and showed another improbable angelic figure in the clouds. Just like that, this one is fake.

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