US veteran fighting in Ukraine exposed as fraud over claims he joined ZSU army

A US Army veteran who has fundraised thousands of pounds in donations for the Ukraine war effort has been "exposed as a fraud" after he claimed to have joined their military, according to social media reports.

Former US Army staff sergeant James Vasquez, 47, went to Ukraine on two separate occasions to fight against Vladimir Putin's forces on the front line, once after his wife left him.

He originally arrived in Ukraine in early April last year before returning again recently, effectively live-tweeting the conflict on his personal account that was followed by thousands before he took it down amid cricitism.

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Vasquez, who is still reportedly in Bakhmut now and crowd-funding money for the war effort, deleted his account after speculation that he wasn't officially signed up to fight in Ukraine.

There has been no claims doubting that the funds he has raised have not been going to the Ukraine war effort.

Right wing Elon Musk fanboy Ian Miles Cheong tweeted on the matter: "It appears James Vasquez was just exposed for being a fraud. Never served in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, or even the Foreign Legion.

"He sure collected a lot of donations from liberal wine moms, though."

He accompanied his messages with a series of screenshots of tweets from Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, a soldier in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Se tweeted: "As a soldier in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who has to live by the rules of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who has fought and fights at the front for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, I'm done w/ lies. James Vasquez is not and has not been in ZSU.

"@jmvasquez1974 please get help."

ZSU refers to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in a Ukrainian abbreviation.

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Sarah continued: "To be in ZSU means dedicating your life to ZSU. Not coming and going. Was James at the front? Seems so. Was James in the military? No. It is very specific. There are no special contracts with ZSU units, only Legion Units. I can't speak for Legion but James was not in Legion."

She said that Vasquez confirmed via text message that he had no contract to fight in Ukraine.

The tweets started a dialougue, in which some people tried to defend Vasquez – even saying he was indeed in the ZSU. Screenshots from social media and LinkedIn show that he claimed to be, but this was disproved.

She said she met Vasquez in Ukraine, but added that he made false claims about going on missions. She said "he cared", but was not a soldier.

Not long after the controversy started, Vasquez deleted his Twitter.

Another US veteran in Ukraine, a podcaster called JD Offleash, said that Vasquez's "reputation amongst those in Ukraine was negative long before this."

In one of his last updates from Ukraine, Vasquez said "There is a dead Russian soldier right there, about 12 feet away from me."

The video was reportedly filmed from a "hot zone" in Ukraine last week.

Vasquez also partnered with retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Ripley "Rip" Rawlings to provide on-the-ground support through a foundation called Ripley's Heroes after he retired from US military service.

The Daily Star has contacted James Vasquez for comment.

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