A recent Trump campaign ad, released around September 11, may have urged viewers to "support our troops," but it was Russian troops and planes that appeared in the ad's imagery.
The ad, made by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, the campaign's fundraising arm, uses a stock photo image of troops and military planes against a sunset-lit sky. Not one element of the ad is American in any way.
The ad first appeared online on September 8 and ran until September 12, presumably to capitalize on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
It turns out, the planes featured in the ad are MiG-29s designed and built by the Russia. was recently discovered to have paid the Taliban bounties on the lives of American troops in Afghanistan.
Pierre Sprey, part of the design team of the F-16 and A-10 planes used by the United States Air Force, confirmed to Politico that the planes are MiG-29s, quipping:
"That's definitely a MiG-29. I'm glad to see it's supporting our troops."
Politico also spoke with Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, who confirmed that the troops are carrying AK-47s, also known as the Kalashnikov, the namesake Soviet who designed it.
The creator of the image, photographer Arthur Zakirov, made the image by compositing several photos together: one of a 3D model of a MiG-29; one of Russian models dressed as soldiers walking on French soil; and a backdrop of Greek mountains. So, there's not a single American element to the photo.
Like Sprey, Zakirov couldn't help but crack wise at the absurdity of the Trump campaign using this image.
"Today you hear about the Kremlin's hand in U.S. politics. Tomorrow you are this hand."
That absurdity comes into sharp relief when the MiG-29's history is taken into account: The plane was created by Russia specifically to fight American F-15s and F-16s.
It has also been sold to militaries all over the world, including to North Korea and Iran. The U.S. has also purchased the MiG-29 for our military's training exercises, and to keep later nuclear-capable versions of the jet out of the hands of adversarial countries like Iran.
All in all, it's a very interesting choice of image for the campaign's ad--especially given the recent revelation that Russia paid the Taliban bounties for the lives of American troops in Afghanistan.
On Twitter, the ad's provenance drew no shortage of disbelief.
Many found it hard to believe that the Russian imagery was a mistake.
And some American military service members were particularly perturbed by the ad, for obvious reasons.
Neither the Trump campaign nor the Republican National Committee have commented on the ad as of this writing.