Does NATO Have Troops In Ukraine?

So. You may have heard that the war in Ukraine heated up yesterday and today with an attack on Mariupol, a Ukrainian city near Crimea. The pro-Ukrainian people are blaming the Russians, the pro-Russian people are blaming the Ukrainians, and the whole thing is a mess because civilians are getting hurt and dying.

This video is making the rounds in the Ukraine-watching blogosphere. It was shot in Mariupol after the attack. It’s only 40 seconds long, so I’d really appreciate it if you could watch it, especially if you’re a native English speaker. In it, a woman tries to interview a man wearing combat fatigues and carrying an assault rifle. He replies brusquely, “Out of my face, out of my face, please.” And yes, he says that in English. Natively-accented English, I might add. Don’t believe me? Watch the video:

Now, there could be several explanations for this:

  • The video wasn’t actually shot in Ukraine. (How does one explain the Russian spoken in the background then?)
  • The video has been edited and spliced, as in it was shot in Ukraine but a man speaking English was added in. (Possible… but unlikely, in my opinion.)
  • The video was shot in Ukraine and the soldier is Ukrainian and happens to be a brilliant linguist who has eliminated every single trace of a foreign accent from his speech, enabling his pronunciation, cadence, and colloquial vocabulary to fool multiple educated native English speakers. Is this possible? Of course. Is it likely? Absolutely not. Take me for example: I am good at Russian. But even I have a foreign accent in Russian. No matter how much I work on my pronunciation, my cadence and intonation give me away. My point here is not to brag, but simply to say that accents are made up of more than pronunciation of words. A ton of stuff goes into an accent and it is very hard to “fix” all of this to match native speakers of a language you’ve learned later in life.
  • There’s some other logical explanation that I’m not seeing. Always a possibility, of course.
  • Or, finally, the video was indeed shot in Ukraine and there are foreign troops from NATO countries currently there. Since this hasn’t been on the news, one must assume that these troops are clandestinely there, unbeknownst to the public in their native countries, and may have been in Ukraine for some time. In fact, they probably wouldn’t have been noticed at all, had this man not slipped up.

What do you think? Is that soldier a native English speaker? Is he a foreigner from Ukraine? And just where is his accent from? A ton of people on Twitter are saying he’s American. This American writing this has her doubts, though! You see, I hear a trace of a Commonwealth accent there. I’m not sure I’d say British, though there seems to be a British influence, which is why I have talked about NATO troops, not American troops.


13 thoughts on “Does NATO Have Troops In Ukraine?

  1. Privyet Natalie,
    Definitely not saying you are are wrong – just wanted to add another possibility or two. He could be a mercenary, or even more likely, a war tourist. Mercenaries are paid by the side they fight for. War tourists actually pay for the ‘thrill’ of killing somebody. During the Balkan War in former Yugoslavia people were paying thousands of dollars to fire sniper rifles into civilian areas.

    I lived in Ukraine for a few years, and it is so sad to think of Ukrainians killing each other.


    1. I’ve heard of mercenaries, but war tourists? That’s just sick! I cannot imagine doing that.

      Yeah, I speak Russian (as I’m sure you’ve gathered from reading!) and I’ve been to Ukraine. It’s a great country. The war makes me so sad every time I think about it.


      1. I’ve listened to the accent over and over, and I can see where people think there is a British undertone, but I’m fairly certain the accent is from America – perhaps Massachusetts or Canada. There’s not much speech to go by, but the accent isn’t ‘clipped’ enough to be British. Of course, people move, and it could be somebody who has lived in both the US and UK, or any number of other explanations.

        While I’m not a qualified expert on accents, it is an interest, or even hobby of mine. I’m a native speaker of English and have taught ESL/EFL in Europe and Asia for more than ten years and have a reasonable ear for accents.


  2. I’m almost 60 now and a little wiser, but when I was 17 and 18 I wanted to go to Vietnam to protect the world against ‘the Communist menace’…

    In my 40’s and 50’s I lived in Ukraine, and met men who were in Vietnam as Soviet ‘advisors’ (fighting). We would have been enemies, trying to kill each other. And yet when we met, we were good friends. I’m so glad that I didn’t go to war.

    War is made by old men in comfortable offices and lounges, while the dying is done by the fittest young men and innocent civilians caught up in the mess.


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