Fact Check: Is Ukraine Using Floating HIMARS to Target Crimea Bridge?

A video circulating online that appears to show a HIMARS system on a pink raft near the Kerch Bridge, a critical link from Crimea to Russia.

The Crimea Bridge, also known as the Kerch Bridge, has been a source of concern among Ukrainians who have pledged to destroy the Russia-made structure.

The building of the 11.8-mile bridge—the longest in Europe and longest ever created by Russia—began in 2016 in what has been nearly universally viewed as Russia, which annexed Crimea in 2014, overtaking Ukraine's sovereign territory.

Kerch Bridge Viral Video HIMARS
Above, a vehicle runs down the 11.8-mile road-and-rail Crimea Bridge, or Kerch Bridge, passing over the Kerch Strait and linking southern Russia to the Crimean peninsula, on May 15, 2018. A video posted by Ukraine's official defense Twitter account appears to show HIMARS on a pink floatation device pointed at the bridge. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Claim

A tweet posted Monday by the verified Defense of Ukraine account consisting of an 11-second video featuring the HIMARS on the raft says "Kerch bridge...we are watching you!"

As of Tuesday morning, it had been viewed nearly 2 million times and "liked" almost 49,000 times.

The tweet has found its way onto other social media platforms like Reddit, where the video has surpassed 11,600 upvotes in the r/Ukraine subreddit.

The Facts

The Kerch Bridge has remained a focus of Ukrainian forces due to its construction years ago on what they believe is their territory. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said "international law" views Crimea as Ukrainian territory.

"And that's why this bridge is a banal object of illegal construction, permission for the construction of which Ukraine did not give," Podolyak tweeted August 17. "It harms the ecology of the peninsula, and therefore must be dismantled. Voluntary or not is not important."

In early August, after Ukrainian forces successfully attacked the Saki air base on the west side of the Crimean Peninsula, videos and photos showed beachgoers driving on the bridge to seek refuge, ultimately causing a traffic jam.

Prior to the successful construction of the Kerch Bridge, Russian President Vladimir Putin years ago called it a "historic mission." Ukraine has called it a "legitimate target," saying its destruction would be a significant blow to Russia's military plans, as it would hinder Russia's ability to transport supplies to bases in Crimea.

However, the video of the HIMARS on the pink raft, floating with artillery pointed directly at the bridge, is not real.

It quickly made the rounds online, but the credit for its creation has been claimed by TikTok user cds_899—who in his posted video, viewed over 1.1 million times, includes a "Glory to Ukraine" hashtag.

The user, in response to a post saying the video was created using Unreal Engine 5 technology, said he used Blender 3D creation suite software—a free, open-source 3D computer graphics tool capable of creating graphics as seen in the viral video.

One comment noted the waves weren't swaying fast enough, to which the poster replied, "I haven't been to the sea for several years, I've already forgotten." He also said he didn't believe the video he created would go viral.

This is not the first example of a "creative" response by Ukrainian graphic designers to Russia's invasion.

A video, seemingly filmed by a Ukrainian soldier behind enemy lines, appeared to show a Ukrainian ZAZ Zaporozhets destroying a whole column of Russian tanks and vehicles in southern Ukraine, went viral in July, and was debunked by Newsweek.

The Ruling

False

False.

While the Kerch Bridge has become a focal point of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and has drawn newfound attention from Ukrainian officials due to Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, the creation of the video of the HIMARS ready to strike in the open sea has been admitted by its creator to having been completed using computer software. No Ukrainian authorities have also claimed the video to be authentic.

Newsweek reached out to the TikTok creator for comment.

FACT CHECK BY NEWSWEEK