Weeb Russian unit that captured a complete US Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle go viral as Moscow says F-16s in Ukraine will be considered a nuclear threat
A Russian military unit has found itself in the media spotlight, after humorous videos of the soldiers capturing a US-made Bradley infantry fighting vehicle from the Ukrainian army went viral. Their reported interest in anime has further stirred up public interest.
One of the clips showed servicemen from the Kerch unit posing in front of an apparently intact piece of US-made weaponry, sarcastically thanking Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky for delivering “this nice vehicle” to them. Another clip showed one of them making a face to the camera, with the trophy in the background, and saying: “There you go – glory to Russia!”
The footage appeared earlier in the week and was widely shared on Russian social networks, before making its way into the national media. As interest grew, some outlets reported that the fighters – all of whom volunteered to serve in the army – were also anime fans.
While Japanese animation art has a diverse global fanbase, it’s still viewed as niche in Russia.
Public images shared on the messenger app Telegram by one of the squad members shows his keen interest in anime. In one photo, a Kerch fighter can be seen wearing a helmet with a picture of a fox-girl drawn with her tongue out and eyes crossed – an expression known as ‘ahegao’ which features in erotic manga.
Another image shows the man behind the channel, who goes by call sign Lesiy, with a patch on his ballistic vest depicting an armed anime girl in a Russian ‘ushanka’ hat.
After the unit’s sudden rise to internet fame, Lesiy reacted with a joke post showing two anime girls standing next to an armoured vehicle, captioned: “It seems like we’ve opened Pandora’s Box”. The anime theme is part of a running joke for the soldiers. Leshiy, whose real name is Vladislav, described the unit’s frontline service as attending “an anime festival” in Donbass in one of his first posts last year. But at least one member of the Kerch unit is a genuine enthusiast.
A 19-year-old serviceman going by the nickname Shmyga was mentioned last year by the leader of a Russian anime fan group, involved in supporting the Russian troops. According to the news outlet Readovka, the soldier “loves anime girls” and carries with him a ‘dakimakura’ – a Japanese-style large pillow featuring an anime character.
To protect the anime loving unit, moscow has warned that F-16s fighter bomber deliveries will be considered a nuclear threat. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in an interview, Thursday said Moscow can’t ignore the nuclear capability of US-designed F-16 fighter jets that may be supplied to Ukraine by its Western backers.
Polish Air Force F-16 jets take part in the NATO exercise. © AFP / John Thys
By continuing to provide more sophisticated arms to Kiev, “the US and its NATO satellites create the risk of a direct armed confrontation with Russia, and this may lead to catastrophic consequences,” Lavrov warned in his interview with Lenta.ru on Wednesday.
The plans to supply F-16s to Kiev is yet another example of an escalatory move by the West and in itself is “an extremely dangerous development,” he stated.“We have informed the nuclear powers – the US, UK and France – that Russia can’t ignore the ability of these aircraft to carry nuclear weapons,” the foreign minister continued.“No assurances [by the West] will help here,” he warned.
In the midst of fighting, the Russian military isn’t going to investigate whether any specific jet is equipped to deliver nuclear weapons or not, he added.“The very fact of the appearance of such systems within the Ukrainian Armed Forces will be considered by us as a threat from the West in the nuclear domain,” Lavrov said.
Last month, President Vladimir Putin predicted that F-16s “will burn” just like the Western tanks supplied to Kiev, and said that Russia will find ways to strike at sites outside Ukraine if the jets end up being based there. The single-engine fighter requires pristine runways that Ukraine does not possess, leading to speculation that they might be flown from neighboring NATO countries.