Accessibility links

Breaking News

Pro-Kremlin X Users Spread Misinformation About Ukraine Misuse of Western Aid

At-MyLordBebo's posts include videos dehumanizing the LGBTQ+ community as the one seen on this screen grab.
At-MyLordBebo's posts include videos dehumanizing the LGBTQ+ community as the one seen on this screen grab.

Videos of partying Ukrainians and old photos from state officials’ social media posts are used to claim the war is fake and that U.S. taxpayer-funded aid worth billions is stolen.

At-MyLordBebo is an anonymous but verified X user describing itself as “Anti Woke, Anti hypocrisy, Anti fake news!” The account appeared relatively recently (created in 2019) but has some 150K followers and a total of 25.9K posts that routinely gain millions of reactions and views.

At-MyLordBebo's posts include videos dehumanizing the LGBTQ+ community, while others praise Russia’s allies like Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Syrian President Bashar Assad. At-MyLordBebo also frequently praises former U.S. President Donald Trump and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Yet the account focuses primarily on two things.

The first is promoting Russian President Vladimir Putin. For example, this August 28 post featuring a 2014 video of Putin scolding Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska was captioned: “This is why the Russian people love Putin. He says it how it is and got the oligarchs under control.” Though highly misleading, the post garnered some 2.4 million views and some 40K reposts and likes. The account routinely re-posts Putin promo videos.

The second is spreading misinformation and disinformation about Ukraine, the United States and its allies. The account frequently uses deep fakes and fake videos to discredit Ukraine and its president.

This July 2 deep fake video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy performing on stage to get more money from the West had nearly 3 million engagements.

This July 26 post featured a fake German anti-war video advertisement that was created in Russia, not a product of any German anti-war movement.

The video’s style strongly resembles that of the Kremlin’s PR producers who authored the viral propaganda video “Winter is coming. Time to move to Russia” in 2022, as well as the homophobic Christmas video of “Santa Putin” gifting “traditional values” to Western children.

The reason we profile this anonymous X account is that it exemplifies the recently emergent trend of newly verified accounts pushing the narrative that the U.S. government is “robbing” American taxpayers of billions of dollars needed to heal a struggling U.S. economy to support the “fake” war in Ukraine.

Some of those online who appear to be involved in this trend have posted videos and photos of Ukrainians engaging in recreational activities, often in noncombatant cities like Odesa, while asserting that Ukrainians are using Western aid money for leisure and entertainment.

An example is a July 17 thread by at-MrJerryGoode, a YouTuber and verified X user. It features four side-by-side photographs, two described as being from “war-torn Ukraine” and showing people partying. The other two photos show the aftermath of the devastating fires in Hawaii’s Maui, which at-MrJerryGoode described in his caption as the “not-so-serious, totally natural Maui fires in the U.S” - hinting at the conspiracy theory surrounding the Maui wildfires.

The post claims the war in Ukraine is “fake” and accuses the U.S. government of misusing taxpayer funds by helping Ukraine.

While the post’s traction is minuscule, its tone is characteristic of the trend.

Another viral at-MyLordBebo thread suggests that the nightlife in places off the war’s front lines, like Odesa, shows that Ukrainians do not need U.S. or European Union aid.

The thread starts with a highly misleading claim that because certain cities in Ukraine are still engaging in non-essential activities, all Ukrainian refugees now in Europe should return home.

According to the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights (UNHCR), 6.2 million Ukrainians have sought refuge around the world. Poland has taken in approximately 60% of the refugees. The UNHCR also notes that 5.1 million Ukrainians are internally displaced, and it is likely that some of them have moved to cities like Kyiv and Odesa to attempt to resume normal life. At-MyLordBebo left out that critical information.

At-MyLordBebo's post also creates a false equivalency between COVID-19 and the Ukraine war, claiming that because unnecessary businesses were shut down during the pandemic, that should also happen in Ukraine due to the war. There is no acknowledgement that Ukrainian authorities are encouraging normalcy in civilian life to boost Ukrainian morale.

The invasion of Ukraine is not the first time that local businesses have persevered through war. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported that some small businesses in France that stayed open during World War II were shutting down because of the pandemic:

“The Cafe de Flore, once the drinking hole of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and the Brasserie Lipp continued serving customers during World War Two. But on Sunday they locked their doors until further notice, as France upped its fight against the coronavirus.”

Ukraine is not the first country that has attempted to maintain normal civilian life during wartime.

Both far-right and far-left social media accounts purvey misinformation about the use of Western aid in Ukraine.

An apparent far-left X user, at-bkeithb, posted a photograph of former Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov sharing a drink on a yacht, claiming that, in so doing, Reznikov was using U.S. taxpayer dollars meant to fund the war in Ukraine.

The poster used the hashtag “USTaxpayerMoneyAtWork.”

However, Reznikov’s photograph on the boat was taken in 2020, prior to Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The photograph was originally posted to Reznikov’s Facebook account to celebrate his engagement.

This misinformation about the misuse of military aid to Ukraine is effective because it twists Kyiv's fight against corruption to use it for anti-Ukraine propaganda.

In August, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy announced the dismissal of all of Ukraine’s regional military recruitment chiefs after it was discovered that officials had taken bribes for allowing men to evade being drafted into the military.

A month earlier, Yevhen Borisov, the former military commissioner of the Odesa region, was detained on charges of illegal enrichment, dereliction of duty and evading military service. Borisov was fired from the post in June following reports that he and family members had bought property in Spain and luxury automobiles worth $4 million.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported in February that Ukraine’s Security Service found that $3.24 million had been embezzled from the Defense Ministry’s budget.

This past January, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, was fired after being targeted for investigation “in connection with his personal use of luxury cars” and “the embezzlement of humanitarian aid worth more than $7 million earmarked for the southern Zaporizhzhia region,” The Associated Press reported.

American lawmakers are concerned that U.S. aid to Ukraine, which, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, currently totals more than $75 billion, could be misused.

During a March hearing, officials from the U.S. State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development and the inspector general overseeing the Department of Defense, told the U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee there was no evidence to support any claims that U.S. aid to Ukraine has been misused.