As the Ukrainian crisis continues, Russians are being recruited by separatist forces through social media.

Right now on the Russian social media sight Вконта́кте, or VK in English, there are pages with tens of thousands of followers, all made with the purpose of recruiting Russians for the Ukrainian separatist movements in Luhansk and Donetsk. One page which is titled “Army of the DPR”, which is in reference to the rebel-governed area of the Donetsk People’s Republic, has over 27,000 followers and growing. This page has provided Russian citizens with both Russian and Ukrainian contacts as well as important locations and addresses which will help them to serve in the DPR military.

Recent posts have included the writings of a recruiter from Donetsk looking for men aged 18-55 to serve. The page has also given advice to its followers who are involved in the conflict, warning them to turn off all geolocation on mobile devices, to not call or write to anyone whilst drunk, and to not reveal any details of the armies operations and military positions. The page has also included the so-called perks of joining the army, promising an allowance of just ₽36,000 (£350), “career growth”, three meals a day, two holidays per year and an “opportunity for free education in higher educational institutions of the DPR”.

Another VK page titled “Humanitarian Volunteers of Novorossiya” (as the separatist region is sometimes called), has not tried to recruit, nor have they asked for any weapons. Instead, they ask people to send clothing, medical supplies, beds, electronics, and even chairs to used on the front line.

The origins of these pages have not been discovered but Lilia Yarrapova, an expert on Russia-backed mercenaries, believes the representatives of the republics and Russia themselves are responsible for these pages. She says, “According to my [contacts] among the mercenaries, people are now being sought not so much to ensure a virtual ‘Russian offensive’, but to strengthen the front line from the LPR and DPR themselves, whose armed forces in their current state are unlikely to withstand a full-scale conflict,”. She continues by saying, "No one, except maybe the Kremlin and the White House, knows how far the preparations for the war should be taken ‘seriously’.”