Trump Campaign Uses Photo of Russian Jets in Ad Asking People to 'Support Our Troops'

The Trump campaign has released an ad asking American citizens to "Support Our Troops," using a photo of Russian jets. According to Politico, the digital ad that debuted on Sept. 8 uses a stock photo of Russian-made fighter jets, as well as Russian models dressed as soldiers. The ad was made by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, as clearly stated at the bottom.

Pierre Sprey, who helped design the F-16 and A-10 planes for the United States Air Force, commented on the ad, saying, "That’s definitely a MiG-29." He added, "I’m glad to see it’s supporting our troops." He noted that the angle of the aircraft’s tail and the manner in which the tail is swept far back, as clues. Sprey also drew attention to the spacing of the engines, and the tunnel between them. Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, confirmed that the planes seen in the ad are in fact Russian MiG-29s. Pukhov also stated that the soldier seen on the far right is carrying an AK-74 assault rifle.

Politico notes that the image in the ad is a stock photo titled "Military silhouettes of soldiers and airforce against the backdrop of sunset sky," and that it is available on Shutterstock.com. The creator of the image is cited as "BPTU," and their location is listed as Andorra, which is a country in Europe. Politico stated that it reached out to the creator via Facebook message, but did not immediately receive a response. Later, Arthur Zakirov, a 34-year-old oil company analyst and hobbyist photographer based in the Russian city of Perm — which is about 700 miles east of Moscow — responded and confirmed that he created the photo.

He stated that the image uses a 3D model of a MiG-29, and that the soldiers were Russian models. "This is a completely recreated scene from various photographs of mine," said Zakirov. "Today you hear about the Kremlin’s hand in U.S. politics. Tomorrow you are this hand," he quipped, saying that he found it to be "pretty funny" that his photo ended up in a Trump fundraising ad. "Everything happened through inattention," he added, then saying that Trump campaign must have done some "bad fact-checking."