Russia’s ruling party put up patriotic billboards around the city of Orel last month showing an image of a soldier in a tank and wishing residents a Happy Defender of Fatherland Day. Rather than showing a Russian soldier and tank, however, the photo actually featured an Israeli soldier in an Israeli-made Merkava III tank.
The United Russia party of President Vladimir Putin commissioned the billboards in honor of the Russian nationalistic holiday, celebrated on February 23, which is dedicated to soldiers serving in the Russian Armed Forces.
A Russian blogger identified the armored vehicle as an Israeli-made Merkava III. The photo, showing a reserves exercise by the IDF’s Armored and Engineering Corps, was quickly traced back to the IDF’s Flickr account.
The blogger drew attention to the irony of a foreign-produced tank featuring on a sign in honor of Defender of the Fatherland Day.
The IDF spokesperson’s office told the Russian-language site IzRus it was aware of the billboard, but declined to offer any further comment.