Video of Russian Unit Waving White Flag as They Surrender Sparks Debate

A video appearing to show Russian troops surrendering to Ukrainian soldiers went viral online and sparked a debate about its authenticity.

The footage showed a Russian unit driving a BMP tank on a field with a white flag draped around the gun barrel. The vehicle turns and slows to a stop before it is set upon by Ukrainian soldiers who were lying in wait. Soldiers close in as two Russians exit the vehicle with their hands raised.

They proceed to lie on the floor with their heads facing the ground and are approached and patted down. Another Ukrainian soldier then orders the tank driver to exit the vehicle and lie on the floor, as well.

Russian soldiers
Above, Russian soldiers patrol a street in Volnovakha in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on April 11, 2022. A video appearing to show Russian troops driving a BMP tank surrendering to Ukraine soldiers has gone viral online. Alexander Nemenov/Getty

The video was posted on Reddit Wednesday evening and has received more than 30,000 upvotes. On Twitter, the same video garnered over 780,000 views. The second part of the encounter has also been viewed more than 120,000 times.

Some viewers defended the perceived strange nature of the video to argue that the Russian troops may have already contacted Ukraine forces on how to surrender.

Author and journalist David Patrikarakos tweeted: "To be confirmed, this is a pre-arranged surrender. In exchange, these Russian soldiers will receive certain benefits and Ukraine will include them in lists for POW exchange."

Department of War Studies professor Michael Clarke of King's College London told Newsweek that the footage looked "suspicious."

He clarified that Ukraine has taken extensive steps to ensure Russian soldiers are aware of how they can surrender.

"The Ukrainians have been skilled at getting their surrender messages to the enemy. They promise big money if someone or a crew brings an armored vehicle with them, plus anonymity as a POW (money waiting for them after the war) and a new life for a few years out of Russia," he said.

"They are very specific to individuals re: surrender (detach magazine from rifle, rifle slung over left shoulder, pointed downwards, hand in air holding white paper or cloth), proper POW treatment, etc.

"Also, it has been known for a couple of weeks that Russian forces in Kherson oblast have been discussing local surrenders with Ukrainian forces as their ammunition has been running low, among other supplies," he said.

"So prearranged surrenders appear to be happening in a number of different places. The clip fits with what we know is happening, and as a pre-arranged surrender it is logical that the Ukrainians would have a decent camera angle on it.

"But it still looks a bit too well arranged to be 100 percent genuine. The work of the Ukrainian soldiers surrounding the crew looks like textbook training area behavior."

Newsweek reached out to Russia and Ukraine's ministries of foreign affairs for comment.