Russia is still reeling from a bomb explosion that killed a prominent pro-Vladimir Putin blogger, an incident the Kremlin believes was orchestrated by Ukraine.
Vladlen Tatarsky died after an explosion at a pro-war event in the heart of St. Petersberg, with the so-called National Republican Army taking responsibility for the bombing.
However, according to a number of social media posts, it wasn’t the only disaster to have happened on Russian soil this week, with news that the Russian Ministry of Defense headquarters was set ablaze.
A Viral TikTok clip claimed that the Russian Ministry of Defense in Moscow was on fire earlier this week. Pictured here, Russian firefighters are seen in front of the Park Kultury metro station entrance on March 29, 2010 in Moscow, Russia.
Konstantin Zavrazhin/Getty Images
A TikTok by Philip DeFranco, posted on April 5, 2023, with 65,000 likes, showed a video of smoke coming from a building, with a voiceover stating: “The Russian Ministry of Defense in Moscow is currently on fire.
“The fire is reportedly burning at a high temperature according to Russian media. Other details aren’t known but this is part of a string of fires that have broken out in and around Moscow since Russia started the war.
“This is a good time to share some fire prevention tips actually. The best way to prevent these fires is to leave Ukraine.”
While DeFranco’s claim on its own, that there have been reports of fires in Moscow since 2022, isn’t particularly remarkable, the source of some of these blazes have made headlines.
For example, in February 2023, a fire ripped through a car service center near a key Russian military industrial complex in Moscow, while in December 2022, another broke out at a Russian facility linked to the country’s military, located in the Russian capital.
So DeFranco’s claim that there has been a “string of fires” in Moscow is true, although it’s not clear whether this number of incidents is any greater or less than that seen in peacetime.
As for the claim that the “Russian Ministry of Defense in Moscow” was on fire, this requires a little more context.
As reported by Reuters, the fire broke out briefly at a building belonging to Russia’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday, April 5, 2023.
However, it was described as a “small blaze” put out shortly after it was reported, and caused no casualties.
Smoke was seen pouring from a third-floor window of the Defense Ministry HQ at 19 Znamenka Street, Moscow. The cause of the blaze has not been determined.
DeFranco’s claim that the Ministry of Defense was on fire is technically accurate, although it appears to have only affected a small section of the building, with no reports that any greater damage was caused.
Russian state news agency TASS reported the fire covered 60 square meters, the size of a small apartment.
Moscow is not the only city to have experienced fires at important military and defense centers. In March 2023, a blaze was reported at the Yaroslavl Motor Plant, in Yaroslavl, which describes itself on its website as one of Russia’s largest enterprises producing multi-purpose diesel engines, clutches, gearboxes, and spare parts.
The same month, at least one person was killed after a fire at a Russian security services building about 75 miles from the country’s border with Ukraine.
Newsweek has contacted the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment.
Although there was a fire at the Ministry of Defense in Moscow, it was restricted to one small section on the third floor of the building.
The fire was said to have spread around 60 square meters. According to news reports it was put out shortly after it was reported.