U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) has shared misinformation on numerous occasions since the Ukraine-Russia conflict escalated this week. In one instance, Kinzinger shared a “Sam Hyde” meme, seemingly falling for a long-running internet joke. Additionally, the congressman has called for a “no fly zone” to be enforced over the nation; a move that would almost certainly lead to a full-scale war between NATO and Russia.
Kinzinger shared a photo of a Ukrainian pilot believed to be “the ghost of Kyiv”, whose entire existence is disputed. A viral story has claimed that a Ukrainian pilot dubbed “the ghost of Kyiv” took down multiple Russian aircraft on day one, becoming Europe’s first pilot ace since World War II. The Ukrainian government has advanced the claim, but no further evidence has been revealed as of this time.
Though unverified, Russia hawks have continued to push sensational claims such as “the ghost of Kyiv” and others while arguing for confrontation with Russia. Kinzinger even fell for a notorious internet meme when he shared a photo claiming to show the mysterious pilot, who was identified as 36-year-old “Samuyil Hyde.”
“The ghostofkyiv has a name, and he has absolutely OWNED the Russian Airforce. God speed and more kills, Samuyil!” Kinzinger said in a tweet that remained live for just 18 seconds.
In a long running internet dark joke, perpetrators of shootings or attacks are identified as “Sam Hyde”, a comedian. Numerous journalists and politicians have named suspects as “Sam Hyde”, typically alongside a photo from one of Hyde’s YouTube videos, in which can be seen holding a rifle. In the photo Kinzinger shared, the head of Sam Hyde was poorly photoshopped onto a Ukrainian pilot.
In addition to the Hyde meme, Kinzinger shared a photo of Ukrainian tanks reportedly headed towards the front. As it turns out, the photo was from the 2014 conflict.
Kinzinger has also been a vocal proponent of establishing a “no fly zone” over Ukraine, which amounts to a euphemism for war with Russia. “The fate of #Ukraine is being decided tonight, but also the fate of the west,” Kinzinger wrote in a tweet on Friday. “Declare a #NoFlyZone over Ukraine at the invitation of their sovereign govt. Disrupt Russias air ops to give the heroic Ukrainians a fair fight. It’s now, or later.”
Establishing a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine would require NATO to engage Russian aircraft and other military installations. Russia has stated that such a move would lead to nuclear confrontation.