They are Ukraine’s YouTube Warriors, with their thousands of followers, giving daily updates in English on the current war with Putin’s Russia.
They feature detailed maps illustrating which cities, towns and villages have been retaken from the enemy, how the HIMARS are destroying Russian supply lines and infantry. There’s also room for some funny videos. Who could forget seeing Ukrainian farmers towing Russian tanks away with their tractors?
Some of these YouTubers are making a living from their videos, whereas others are doing it because the war has kept them from doing their regular jobs. Those who can afford to, donate some of their money to the Ukrainian war effort. Viewers support them financially through PayPal, Donatello and Patreon.
Top of the list is the likeable Artur Rehi (571k subscribers), a young Estonian Reserve Soldier who in 2018 served in the Kuperjanov Infantry Battalion as company communications. His passionate commentary when drones kill the enemy end with the words “we knocked them out cold.” He believes if Ukraine falls, Estonia will follow. He was beaming with pride when he showed footage of Estonia giving Ukraine military and humanitarian aid.
Rehi recently posted a video of the infamous Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as Putin’s chef and head of the Wagner Private Military Company, seeing him as a possible successor to Putin. Another Rehi piece looked at whether Ukraine had the military means to strike Moscow.
Denys Davydov (542k subscribers) is a former civilian pilot who always wishes his viewers a peaceful sky. Every evening he gets out the maps and lets everyone know which piece of territory Ukraine has taken, and what possible strategies there are to liberate even more. As a Crimean, he was in seventh heaven when there were explosions in the area from cigarette-smoking Russians.
Davydov can’t wait to see the Ukrainian peninsula liberated from Russia. He recently left Ukraine for the sake of his wife and daughter for an undisclosed safe country in Europe. He continues his popular videos without the background noise of sirens and hopes to resume his old day job in the near future.
Operator Starsky (349k subscribers) is an Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) press officer, who describes himself as a Ukrainian National Guardsman, blogger and war-hipster. He dedicates his channel to the international community of people who support Ukraine.
Starsky likes to do a live question-and-answer session with his audience, where he answers all sorts of questions from his own war record to information about what Russians are planning and how many rockets were intercepted on certain days. He usually signs off with a soldier’s salute.
Anna from Ukraine
Anna from Ukraine (39k subscribers) provides daily updates on the real-life situation of ordinary people surviving in wartime Ukraine. A teacher and journalist, Anna also informs her viewers about the history, culture and political situation of her country. In one of her latest videos on Russian propaganda and fake news, she warns Western society about the tactics being used by Russia.
On the subject of war fatigue, she points out that sacrificing Ukraine will not solve the world’s problems. As she says: “Russians are not our brothers – brothers don’t come to kill you, they don’t do things like they did in Mariupol, Bucha and Kherson.”
Perun (323k subscribers) makes weekly in-depth videos about the military industrial complex and national military investment strategy. He has covered military topics ranging from countries such as China, Germany, Poland, the United States, Russia, and Ukraine.
His videos are well researched, with him consulting military experts before putting them out. His first video when Putin launched his full-scale war on Ukraine in February, was a reaction to information being put out on Russian and Ukrainian military capabilities that claimed Ukraine didn’t stand a chance.
He challenged the figures on tanks, manpower, etc., and his video went viral, receiving 1.7 million views.
Perun speaks with an Australian accent, but stays anonymous, arguing that he is not the story, and the work he puts out should stand on its own.
Jake Broe (294k subscribers) welcomes his viewers every day by saying, “We are on day number [X] of Russia’s disastrous war in Ukraine.” A former U.S. Air Force nuclear missile operations officer, the American now produces maps where he gives updates on Ukraine’s war with Russia.
He frequently uses other YouTube video clips to illustrate what’s happening, including newspaper articles from Kyiv Post. He also uses charts focusing on how the price of gas has fallen, the decline of the ruble and the failing Russian economy.
Johnny FD (251k subscribers) is a wealthy businessman from California, who now lives in Kyiv, Ukraine. He donates a lot of his own money to Ukrainian causes, and goes out and meets Kyivites and informs viewers about daily life in Ukraine. He recently did a video in Kyiv’s main post office where he had to wait in a long queue and was not happy.
Johnny loves his food, whether it’s frequenting a posh Kyiv restaurant or cooking at home. In one video, while he is eating with his friends, Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, happens to walk past with what could be friends or bodyguards.
It’s quite sad to see him get ill when there’s no heating in his flat. He even has to drink a huge flask of ginger honey to make himself feel better. But even when life sucks, he still prefers to be in Ukraine and is happy to tell everyone about it.
Combat Veteran Reacts
U.S. Army combat veteran Paul (208k subscribers) gives daily battlefield updates with maps on what’s happening in Donetsk and Luhansk, and shares his analysis, based on his own military experience. He uses original footage, identifies weaponry and tactics used by Ukrainian forces and compares them to what he used to use while still in the service.
Paul comments on how Russians are now getting to see through Putin’s propaganda by using Atlas VPN internet. His opening catchphrase to viewers is: “Let’s get right into it!”
Insights from Ukraine and Russia
Insights from Ukraine and Russia (165k subscribers) shows intercepted phone calls between soldiers on the frontline telling relatives how they are suffering from counteroffensives by the AFU.
A lot of the conversations includes swear words which have to be bleeped out.
Russian commanders are often criticized by their soldiers as is Putin. Mothers want their sons to continue fighting and some even live in hope of getting “coffin money” if their son gets killed, so they can buy themselves a prized Lada.
Vlad Vexler (109k subscribers) was born in Soviet Russia and now lives in London. His channel is quite philosophical and is informed by his experience with a debilitating neurological condition which he contracted 20 years ago as a research student at Oxford. His take on the war in Ukraine is often quite deep. He has tackled such subjects as why Russians don’t protest and often tries to analyze Putin’s motives.
The YouTube warriors are out there reaching out to the world, setting the record straight, and debunking fake news from Russia. Starsky put it eloquently in a video with Johnny FD: “We know what we are fighting for. We are fighting for our future and our survival, while Russians are fighting for nothing, for no reason here.”