A fictional video showing Paris being hit by an airstrike has been posted on social media, bringing the prospect of war closer to home for western European countries including France.
In the clip, which was shared by the chair of Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Committee Oleksandr Merezkho, tourists posing in front of the Eiffel Tower are knocked off their feet by bomb blasts, sirens wail across the city and fighter jets shoot through the sky above.
Would the famous Eiffel Tower in #Paris or the Brandenburg Gate in #Berlin remain standing under endless bombing of Russian troops?— Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (@ua_parliament) March 11, 2022
Do you think that does not concern you?
Today it's #Ukraine, tomorrow it will be the whole of #Europe. Russia will stop at nothing. pic.twitter.com/vi6z5UWV8q
The mock-up ends with a supposed quote from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which reads: “We will fight to the end. Giving us a chance to live.
“Close the sky over Ukraine or give us air fighters.
“If we fall, you fall.”
As he shared the post, which has now been viewed well over two million times, Mr Merezhko wrote: “We also thought that it could never happen.”
What would a no-fly zone mean?
A no-fly zone over Ukraine would ban certain types of aircraft from the country’s airspace, helping to prevent Russian troops from attacking from the sky. However, to be effective it would need strong enforcement, which may entail shooting down Russian planes.
World leaders are reticent about the idea, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning that it would mean: “NATO planes in Russian airspace…to shoot down Russian planes.” Putin has previously suggested that this will result in military retaliation from Russia on NATO countries.
‘I made this film out of rage’
Many internet users have reacted negatively to the video, with one person Tweeting: “By doing this you put yourself on the level of the aggressor. I am disappointed and even suspicious now with regards to the truthfulness of the images which are shown to us in the news.”
Cette manipulation n'est pas digne de vous. En faisant cela vous vous mettez au niveau de votre agresseur. Je suis déçue et même méfiante maintenant quant à la véracité des images qui nous sont montrées aux informations.— PatLL (@vanillambre) March 12, 2022
The video was not made by the Ukrainian government but by a French screenwriter, director and producer Olias Barco, who lives in Kyiv.
“It’s not an order from the Ukrainian government,” he told Le Monde.
“It’s something I wanted to do myself, with producer Jean-Charles Lévy, to give an electroshock to the West. For me, we are in a third world war and this conflict is going to spread. It’s an anticipation film, not a propaganda film.”
“I wanted to foreground Parisian monuments while retaining the style of filming which is characteristic of social media [stories], to show that this could happen to Paris.
“The people with whom I work and with whom I live are falling one after another because the sky is full of missiles and no one is doing anything.
“I made this film out of rage. An intervention must be made. The sky must be closed.”
‘History repeating itself’
The clip comes as Ukrainian politician Lesia Vasylenko warned European countries against “averting” their eyes and stated that there was still time to stop President Vladimir Putin “once and for all” on Times Radio.
“History is just repeating itself time and time again, and I don’t understand what is wrong with us humans and humanity why we don’t learn from the lessons,” she said, drawing parallels with this conflict and the start of World War Two.
“A year ago, eight years ago was the time to do this, but nobody wanted to get involved.
“This is the same as 1938 when also the world and the United States in particular were averting their eyes from what was being done by Hitler and his Nazi Party.
“And then they stepped in when the death toll was going up by the millions.
“And it's going to be the same thing here as well, because there's just so much that humanity can take.”
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