It’s the latest disinformation campaign launched by pro-Kremlin propagandists which claims foreign mercenaries mobilised in Ukraine are leaving the country to fight alongside Israel.
Social media users are sharing a TV report in Ukrainian that alleges foreign mercenaries fighting against Russia in Ukraine are now leaving the battlefield in order to go fight against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“Assistance and attention to Kyiv are noticeably decreasing due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which cannot but worry the Ukrainian authorities,” posted one pro-Russian Telegram account.
“The transfer of Foreign Legion fighters to participate in the war on the side of the Israel Defense Forces can greatly affect the morale of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Is the West really ready to close the Ukraine project and devote all its attention to a new conflict in the Middle East?” asked another X account.
Some pro-Kremlin accounts shared the video and even claimed that this report is proof NATO allies have actively sent troops to Ukraine.
While others saw the report as a sign of Western disinterest in Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
A real CBS news report with an edited audio track
But there are certain elements that cast doubt on the report’s authenticity. First of all, there is no TV channel logo, nor the name of the journalist behind the report. Moreover, none of the interviews in the news story are audible.
The images are all used for illustration purposes, none of the clips support evidence foreign troops have been deployed from Ukraine to Israel or that NATO troops have been sent to fight in Ukraine.
By doing a reverse image search, The Cube found the original news report was published on 9 October by the US news channel CBS talking about Israel preparing “for a ground invasion of Gaza after an unprecedented Hamas attack.”
Nowhere in the news report does the journalist mention foreign mercenaries leaving Ukraine. This means the propagandists behind this viral fake simply took the video and added their own voiceover.
An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 foreign volunteers remain in Ukraine
There have been foreign fighters among the ranks of the Ukrainian army, such as the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine.
As of March 2022, the Kyiv Minister of Foreign Affairs estimated the number of foreign volunteer fighters applications was as high as 20,000, hailing from 52 countries.
But since then, there’s been no official update on how many of these foreign legion fighters have remained in Ukraine.
According to multiplemedia reports, that number has dwindled to an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 fighters with most serving in three battalions of the International Legion
However, none of these countries have deployed their army on Ukrainian soil since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
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