Alarming video from Russia’s Zapad 2017 exercise, a joint military exercise between Russia and Belarus, shows a Ka-52 helicopter firing on an area where people are clearly expecting a flyover rather than missiles.
The video has sparked competing versions of the story, one from those on the ground and one from the Russian Defense Ministry.
According to the Moscow Times, citing 66.ru’s anonymous source, one version of the story is that a technical glitch caused the missiles to blast off “on their own,” blowing up two cars and seriously injuring two people, “most likely journalists.”
66.ru’s video, slightly more zoomed out and capturing the shaken reaction of the recorder, has been viewed more than 500,000 times.
The Russian Defense Ministry, on the other hand, said that people making a big deal about this on the internet are either stupid or liars.
[A]ll social media messages about ’rounds on a crowd of journalists,’ ‘a large number of seriously wounded’ are either a deliberate provocation or someone’s personal stupidity,” the ministry said in a statement. “[Video footage] recorded an event that occurred at another time, when army aviation helicopter crews practiced ground attacks as part of a tactical exercise.”
While the defense ministry acknowledged that a helicopter fired on the wrong target and destroyed a truck, it said no one on the ground was hurt.
Russian President Vladimir Putin personally oversaw the Zapad war games.
— CNN (@CNN) September 19, 2017
As the Guardian reported, Zapad means “west” in Russian and is “the reincarnation of a Soviet-era training exercise that involved Warsaw Pact countries […] carried out every four years.”