Like what you're reading? Please Support Us!

Fact Check: Are Russian Trenches Infested with Rats the Size of AK Rifles?

The following article, Fact Check: Are Russian Trenches Infested with Rats the Size of AK Rifles?, was first published on Flag And Cross.

It sounds too good to be true — or, at the very least, good enough that we want it to be true: Rats the size of AK-47 rifles are infesting Russian trenches in Ukraine.

In the very best of circumstances, this is what would be labeled on Wikipedia as “[citation needed].”

More than likely, however, it’s a social media hoax.

So let’s back up to the origin of this story, which came from a user on the Russian social media service VK. The post was echoed on Western social media by OSINTtechnical; for the uninitiated, “OSINT” means “open source intelligence,” or intelligence that can be gleaned through openly available sources.

On Thursday evening, the account tweeted a photo of a gargantuan member of the order Rodentia that appeared to have, to quote John Cleese’s character in Monty Python’s iconic “Dead Parrot” sketch, “shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible.” It was, in Python parlance, an ex-rodent.

“Russian trenches are apparently dealing with a slight infestation by rodents of unusual size in Donetsk Oblast,” OSINTtechnical said in a post on X along with the photo, which showed the rat next to a military rifle.

Now, as a former resident of the New York City area who used the subway on a daily basis, I can tell you this: I have seen me some rats in my lifetime. I have seen many fewer AK-47s, but I know the size difference. So do social media posters:

Now, to be fair, OSINTtechnical is generally reliable, and it apparently believes the VK “milblogger” — military blogger, one whose account focuses primarily or specifically on military matters — is too.

Unfortunately, said “milblogger” has either taken the picture down or had the picture taken down for him. (VK, like many social media networks based in autocratic countries — and even some that aren’t — can tend to be very, um, persnickety when it comes to what you can say and what you can’t.)

However, as outlet Insider noted when reporting on OSINTtechnical’s potential whoopsie, “Photos and videos show rat-infested Russian trenches along the front line,” and “Rats have long infested trenches in war and can spread diseases to troops, as they famously did in World War I.”

If The Western Journal launched a podcast, would you subscribe?

“One troop, Lieutenant Rayner of the 3rd Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery, said in February 1918: ‘The darn rats are as big as rabbits & as friendly. Was looking out through the peephole trying to get a line on Fritzies [the Germans] flash & one of them came & sat right in front of the compass, I reached for my gun but he moved too quickly for me,’ according to The Canadian Center for the Great War,” Insider noted in its report.

Furthermore, it’s not as if there isn’t evidence that Russia has a serious rat problem as its invasion of Ukraine continues to be bogged down in the kind of warfare we’re not used to seeing in the 21st century:

So, is there an AK-47-sized rat problem in Donetsk?

One post does not evidence make, particularly when that post has been deleted.

Furthermore, there are other rodents larger than the pestilent rat that one might have to deal with. The largest member of the order, the capybara, is the size of a medium-ish dog — although good luck finding the outlier in the order, a South American native, in Ukrainian trenches.

A more realistic explanation, if this photo is real, is the nutria — “a giant orange-toothed rodent also known as coypu or river rat, and found in southern Russia,” the U.K.’s Guardian reported in 2016 when nutria burgers were a Moscow foodie rage.

Or, as is so often the case, this could be more disinformation in a conflict where the truth, if it’s even knowable given the shifting conditions on the ground, is impossible to ascertain from a single, now-deleted photo gleaned from a Russian-run social media network.

It’s tempting to believe because we want Russia to lose — or, at the very least, we want this to be so unpleasant for Moscow that it agrees to an advantageous peace.

In an era of Photoshop, AI and a massive disinformation complex on all sides, however, we can’t merely believe our eyes — sadly.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Continue reading: Fact Check: Are Russian Trenches Infested with Rats the Size of AK Rifles? ...

Leave a Reply

Notify of

Like what you're reading? Please Support Us!