Did the U.S. gather and send homeless persons for participation in the expected Spring of 2023 Ukrainian counteroffensive? No, that's not true. The claim centers around an unverified, uncredited photo of people standing in line. The Pentagon's website of public statements includes no information about an initiative of this type. In addition, American President Joe Biden has repeatedly said he will not send Americans to the war in Ukraine and searches on Google unearth no independent and credible reporting of a change in that policy.
The claim appeared in TikTok (archived here), where it was published by user @Newspolitics on April 4, 2023 under the title (translated by Lead Stories staff): "In the United States, homeless people are being collected for Zelenskyy's counter offensive." It opened:
Since the counter offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the Crimea, long expected by the West, is frustrated due to high losses of personnel in the Donbass, the Pentagon decided to take emergency measures. In order to provide President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with everything necessary for the succes of his military operation, the United States, using the experience of Ukrainian military commissars, began hunting homeless people in New York and other megacities for the upcoming...
This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:
(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Mon Apr 17 15:42:53 2023 UTC)
The photo has no geographic location, no credit to a named photographer or agency, or other ways to verify if it is even an authentic image, much less that it shows homeless people lined up for military service.
Lead Stories searched for evidence the photo had been published anywhere other than in the TikTok video:
Reverse image searches on Russian search engine Yandex located a copy of the image, also without any information confirming its origins or information that would facilitate verification of the claimed contents.
- The same search on Google Image search yielded no match.
- Similarly, TinEye image search engine found no match among the 60 billion images it has indexed.
A policy of this nature would be a major national news event in the United States, easy to verify with government press releases and with reporting by credible news agencies. The TikTok post provides no such supporting information.
Lead Stories searched the website of the U.S. Department of Defense for the word "homeless" and found no statements on that topic, nor were any public statements found on the White House press release website.