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Redditors in Ukraine's International Legion refers to the stories told by Reddit users who supposedly fought as foreign fighters on the side of Ukraine during the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War in the country's foreign legion. The stories, mainly shared on the /r/VolunteersForUkraine subreddit that describe injuries sustained by the foreign legion, have been widely circulated online, particularly on 4chan and Twitter. While the stories were scrutinized as possibly being a part of Russia's information warfare and propaganda, members of the so-called "Reddit Legion" were mocked by some users on Reddit, 4chan and Twitter for their overconfidence and unpreparedness for the realities of war.
On February 25th, 2022, the day following the start of the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian war, the subreddit /r/VolunteersForUkraine was created, serving as the website's central hub for volunteer activity in Ukraine. On February 27th, 2022, the International Legion for Territorial Defence of Ukraine, a foreign legion military unit of the Ukrainian Army, was established. Starting in late February 2022, foreign soldiers from the U.K., U.S., Canada, Belgium and other countries arrived to Ukraine to join the legion and fight on the side of the Ukrainian Army. As of March 16th, 2022, the size of the legion was estimated to exceed 20,000 soldiers (reported by Ukraine).
In early March 2022, several Reddit users made posts in which they reported arriving in Ukraine to fight in the legion. For example, on March 4th, 2022, Redditor manoffat posted a photograph of himself, writing that they arrived to Poland from Jersey (shown below, left). Several reports about foreign fighters arriving to Ukraine were reposted to the subreddit from Twitter (example shown below, right).
The presence of foreign soldiers who are also Redditors in Ukraine's foreign legion did not draw significant attention until March 13th, 2022, when Russia fired multiple missiles at a Ukrainian military facility where some of the foreign soldiers were undergoing training, reportedly killing 35 people and injuring 134. On the same day, Redditor spindokto, whose account has since been deleted, posted a video of the strike, with the post gaining over 1,000 upvotes on the subreddit in three days (Twitter reupload shown below)
Looks like a bad time to me pic.twitter.com/mmZUwlu9TW
— EnochPowell (@MogTheUrbanite) March 14, 2022
In the following hours, spindokto shared a video of the aftermath of the bombing, also posting multiple comments in which he described his experience in Ukraine. In one comment, spindokto wrote that he together with other 60 people left the foreign legion, describing several deaths sustained by foreign soldiers in Ukraine (screenshot shown below).
In the following days, spindokto's videos and comments were widely circulating on Twitter and 4chan. For example, on March 13th, 2022, Twitter user @MogTheUrbanite reposted both videos and screenshots of multiple comments by spindokto, with multiple tweets in the thread gaining over 1,000 likes.
The viral spread of spindokto's Reddit posts led to a discussion of soldiers with Reddit accounts taking part in the conflict on Reddit, 4chan's /pol/ board and Twitter. For example, on March 15th, 2022, an anonymous 4chan user started one such discussion on /pol/, posting a Wojak comic meme referencing spindokto's comment (authorship unconfirmed; thread and post shown below, left and center). On March 14th, Twitter user @BigGulpAmerikan shared a mockup of a Wikipedia article for "The Bombing of the Reddit Legionnaires," which gained over 590 retweets and 3,400 likes in two days, shown below, right).
While the veracity of spindokto's posts has been questioned, with some users assuming that they could be a part of Russia's information warfare, the perceived impression that some foreign soldiers arriving in Ukraine from other countries are "out of their depth," further confirmed by publications in The Sun and other news outlets, spawned multiple memes on social media.
 Reddit – I am now finally a part of the 🇺🇦Ukrainian foreign legion. From 🇫🇮Finnish reservist Lt. to UA recruit. People from all over the world have come here to help to defend Ukraine. My bunkmates are 🇳🇴Norwegian and 🇺🇸American. There is still plenty of room for more!
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