An ad produced by President Donald Trump's campaign to encourage voters to "Support Our Troops" actually shows Russian soldiers, while military jets from the same country fly in the background, Politico reported.
Between September 8 and September 12, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee ran the digital ad, which features silhouette images of military fighters bedecked in their gear and carrying their weapons across mountains. In the background, fighter jets fly overhead.
A screenshot of the ad was captured by Twitter user John Aravosis, a journalist and blogger.Though aimed at stirring up feelings of support by Americans for American military servicemen and -women, just about everything about the ad is actually not American.
Pierre Sprey, who helped design both F-16 and A-10 planes for the U.S. Air Force, noticed that the planes in the image are Russian. Specifically, he said that the angle of the aircraft's tail, the placement and positioning of the tail, and the way the engines are spaced are all consistent with Russian MiG jets.
"That's definitely a MiG-29," he said.
He also added in a bit of snark at the context.
"I'm glad to see it's supporting our troops," he said.
It's not just the aircraft that are Russian: so are the soldiers.
Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, said that the weapon being carried by the soldier on the far right was an AK-74 assault rifle, used in the Russian army.
Another person who confirmed the presence of Russian equipment and men in the ad is none other than the man who created the image. Arthur Zakirov, who created the artwork and put it up for use on stock photo website Shutterstock under the title "Military silhouettes of soldiers and airforce against the backdrop of sunset sky," confirmed that it's a cosmopolitan image. Specifically, he said, it's a Russian sky, Greek mountains, and French ground, and features Russian soldiers and equipment.
"This is a completely recreated scene from various photographs of mine," he said.
He, too, got in a laugh at the expense of Trump's team, referencing its purported ties to Russia.
"Today you hear about the Kremlin's hand in U.S. politics. Tomorrow you are this hand," he joked, calling the whole episode "pretty funny."
This is not the first time that Russian military assets have wound up being used by Republicans to tout the U.S. military. Back in October 2019, Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) tweeted a Happy Birthday message to the U.S. Navy. Included was a photo of a Russian battleship. He later deleted the tweet.