Russia Linked to Hoax Job Ad Offering Ukrainian Mercenaries UK Citizenship

By Patricia Devlin
Patricia Devlin
Patricia Devlin
Patricia is an award winning journalist based in Ireland. She specializes in investigations and giving victims of crime, abuse, and corruption a voice.
May 25, 2023Updated: May 25, 2023

A “job” offering citizens from the Middle East and North Africa UK or EU citizenship in return for fighting in Ukraine has been linked to a Kremlin “disinformation” campaign.

The European Commission told The Epoch Times that the fake advertisement—posted on an international employment website—bears the hallmarks of Russia’s “twisted narrative.”

The false recruitment campaign was posted to the online job site Adzuna over the past week.

Titled “military maintenance technician,” it offers “military specialists” in good health and with “psychological stability” £20,000 to participate in the “Ukrainian counteroffensive.” 

It stated that “conditions” for the post include a “high contract payment” with “guaranteed“ and “accelerated citizenship in the UK or EU.”

Only men from North Africa and the Middle East are eligible to apply for the permanent posts, it said.

The ad—which originally included a contact email address that appeared to be linked to the EU Citizenship Programme—also stated that the company offering the job for a visa deal was based in the UK.

The recruitment campaign has caused a stir on social media with some attacking Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the Home Office and other EU officials over the “cannon fodder” ad.

Former French presidential candidate François Asselineau also appeared to fall victim to the scam after he made a number of Twitter posts to his 230,000 followers about the EU’s “pathetic” attempt to recruit mercenaries for Ukraine.

His posts, which include a link to a post on Russian social networking service VKontakte, have so far been viewed tens of thousands of times.

‘Twisted Narrative’

In a statement to The Epoch Times via email on May 25, a European Commission spokesperson confirmed that the advertisement was “not an EU sponsored or originated campaign.”

It said it is “most likely an attempt to mislead people since it is bearing hallmarks of a disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting Ukraine and the European Union.”

The spokesperson added: “This issue did not come up yet on our radar in terms of analysing disinformation campaigns, so we cannot confirm yet the possible disinfo or information manipulation angle and origins, but some analysis was already done.

“In general, Kremlin-affiliated outlets regularly accuse ‘the West, NATO, the EU or specific member states of sending soldiers to Ukraine or organising volunteer or mercenary units to fight in Ukraine, which is, of course, disinformation and an attempt to reinforce the twisted Russian narrative that Russia is under Western attack. “

The spokesperson added that this was carried out “with the aim to divert the attention from the fact that Russia launched and continues an illegal military aggression against Ukraine.”

Adding that there is no centralised EU citizenship program, the European Commission stated that every person holding the nationality of an EU member state is an EU citizen. 

“EU citizenship is thus additional to the nationality of EU member states and is granted by EU member states when they confer their nationality,” the spokesperson added.

“It is the competence of the member states to determine the criteria for the acquisition and loss of their nationality, subject to due regard to EU law.”

The European Commission added that third countries cannot grant EU citizenship and that neither can private entities, such as companies.

The Russian Embassy in the UK didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Speaking to The Epoch Times on May 24, a Home Office spokesperson confirmed it was aware of the false advertisement, describing it as a “scam.”

Russia has previously been accused by the EU of using disinformation as an operational tool in its war on Ukraine.

In March 2022, weeks after the Russian invasion began, EU-wide sanctions were placed on Kremlin-affiliated outlets for “systematic information manipulation and disinformation.”

Josep Borrell, high representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said Russia’s disinformation campaigns posed a “significant and direct threat” to the Union’s public order and security.