Many within the United States have focused their attention on Russia’s social media based misinformation campaigns as of late. However, it’s important to understand that the online effort to persuade and divide the American people throughout and after the 2016 presidential election is far from an isolated aspect of the nation’s overarching foreign policy.  In many ways, Russia, as well as its predecessor the Soviet Union, has long relied on managing the perceptions of the global populous and how they view their own government, as well as the governments of opponents like the United States.

Recently, Russia’s remarks regarding the use of sanctions on North Korea to dissuade Kim’s development of nuclear arms indicated that the United States, not Kim’s regime, was acting as the aggressor, with Putin going so far as to say he’d like to see all sanctions levied by the U.S. and United Nations dropped.  Similarly, Russian officials have accused the American military of running ISIS fighters out of Iraq and into Syria, where they serve as reinforcements against the Russian-led anti-ISIS campaign.  Now, Russia has claimed to have “irrefutable” evidence that the United States is actually assisting ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria by providing air support.  There’s just one problem… that proof has turned out to be an image taken from a video game.

“This is the irrefutable evidence that there is no struggle against terrorism as the whole global community believes. The US are actually covering the ISIS combat units to recover their combat capabilities, redeploy, and use them to promote the American interests in the Middle East,” The Russian Foreign Ministry wrote on Twitter.

This tweet has since been deleted.

They accompanied the tweet with this image:

That image in particular caught the attention of a number of internet sleuths, like Elliot Higgins who promptly pointed out that the image is a poorly cropped shot from a YouTube video advertising a game called, “AC-130 Gunship Simulator – Convoy engagement.”  You can even see a portion of the disclaimer written over the YouTube footage that says, “Development footage.  This is a work in progress.  All content subject to change.”

The other images included in the Russian Foreign Ministry statement also proved to be fake, though they weren’t from a video game ad.  They were both taken from actual combat footage out of Iraq, more than a year before the Boukamal battle Russia claimed they came from.