An American veteran is livetweeting his volunteer tour of duty in Ukraine

I can’t verify that this guy is who he says he is and where he says he is, obviously. But if this is a hoax, it’s a convincing and elaborate one.

Scroll through his Twitter feed and you’ll find posts and videos about Ukraine dating back weeks, before he entered the country:


Five days later, he was inside Ukraine and ready to deploy:

Two days after that:

Was he all talk? Not judging by this video posted a few hours ago:

Vasquez didn’t post this clip, as far as I can tell, but I suspect it’s the same unit:

American volunteers in Ukraine: They’re real and they’re spectacular.

Why would they put themselves in harm’s way for a country many of them had never visited? The Times wrote about that a few weeks ago. It’s not just sympathy for Ukraine’s predicament or feeling inspired by Zelensky, although of course that’s part of it. Some crave the moral clarity of this particular fight:


All across the United States, small groups of military veterans are gathering, planning and getting passports in order. After years of serving in smoldering occupations, trying to spread democracy in places that had only a tepid interest in it, many are hungry for what they see as a righteous fight to defend freedom against an autocratic aggressor with a conventional and target-rich army.

“It’s a conflict that has a clear good and bad side, and maybe that stands apart from other recent conflicts,” said David Ribardo, a former Army officer who now owns a property management business in Allentown, Pa. “A lot of us are watching what is happening and just want to grab a rifle and go over there.”…

The outpouring of support is driven, veterans said, by past experiences. Some want to try to recapture the intense clarity and purpose they felt in war, which is often missing in modern suburban life. Others want a chance to make amends for failed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and see the fight to defend a democracy against a totalitarian invader as the reason they joined the military.

Russia has vowed to treat members of Ukraine’s foreign legion as mercenaries and therefore not protected by international rules governing the treatment of POWs. And since POWs doubtless are treated horribly by the Russian military, you can imagine what’s in store for volunteers — particularly American volunteers, which is why no one interviewed by the Times wanted their last names used in the story.


I guess Vasquez figures that if he’s brave enough to face down Russian tanks, he’s brave enough to put his name on his Twitter account too.

Many foreign volunteers are military veterans, which means they can join the fight soon after arriving in country. But not all are.

“I’ve got very little military experience, but I am willing to go and fight and die with this guy,” said Brian, a Canadian business analyst, referring to Adam standing nearby, “because my Ukrainian relatives are here.”

“I have been a hunter all my life,” Brian said. “I got assigned to a sniper team here. I am going to kill every … Russian I can,” he said, using an expletive to describe Russians.

“Never killed a man in my life, but … I am going to enjoy [it].”

The “Adam” referred to is an American from L.A. who was working as a cashier and a security guard before he decided to head off to Ukraine. He told WaPo that he was hoping to be assigned as either a medic or a sniper — despite having no experience in either role. When the reporter caught up with him later, he was stationed in Kiev without a gun, vest, or helmet and was “angry and emotional,” wanting to get closer to combat instead of standing around listening to the shelling. I’m tempted to say that someone in his position has no business being that close to war but millions of Ukrainians are in the same boat. How many cashiers and security guards over there got a crash course in soldiering for a few days last month before being sent out to fight the Russians?


This point from WaPo is a real concern, however: “If Americans get captured by Russian forces, they could become fodder for the Kremlin’s propaganda machine, held up as evidence that Ukraine’s resistance is really an American and Western plot.” Does Russia need to capture any Americans to do that? They’re fighting an information war; it’s a matter of time before they begin calling attention to accounts like Vasquez’s as “proof” that the U.S. military has joined Ukraine on the battlefield. Putin himself probably — hopefully? — knows better but the Russian audience destined to consume that propaganda won’t.

I’ll leave you with this, posted 10 days before Russia invaded.

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