A fundraising group working on behalf of Donald Trump has run into trouble for posting an ad featuring Russian warplanes.
The Trump Make America Great Again committee, which serves as the fundraising arm of the president’s campaign, ran the offending digital ad for several days last week. It shows armed soldiers silhouetted below three fighter jets and above the words “Support our Troops”, with a link to donate to the group’s coffers.
However, according to an aeronautical engineer quoted by Politico, the planes flying overhead are Russian MiG-29s; one of the soldiers, meanwhile, carries an AK-47. The image is a stock photo taken from Shutterstock.
Designed during the Soviet era and still in service, the MiG-29 has been widely exported over the decades and is still in use today, making it one of the world’s most recognisable fighter jets. Among the countries using it is Syria, a Russian ally that has benefited from modernisation to its ageing craft.
The Trump committee ad’s “Support Our Troops” message comes at a fraught time in the president’s relationship with the military. After being accused earlier this year of ignoring intelligence that Russia may have offered bounties for American soldiers’ lives in Afghanistan, Mr Trump was reported in The Atlantic to have repeatedly mocked fallen troops as “losers” and “suckers” who were foolish to sacrifice themselves for their country.
Among those quoted as disgusted with his views were various former generals. Separately, Jim Mattis, a retired four-star general who served as Mr Trump’s first secretary of state, issued a blistering statement condemning Mr Trump’s use of troops to quash Black Lives Matter protests outside the White House.
“Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens,” he wrote, “much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”