A Cuban teenager was offered a job doing 'construction work' in Russia. Instead he was sent to fight on the front lines in Ukraine.

The gutted remains of a destroyed Russian tank lies at the front line in Ukraine.

The gutted remains of a destroyed Russian tank lies at the front line in Ukraine.Alex Babenko/AP Photo

  • A Cuban teenager accepted a job offer to do construction work for the Russian military.

  • Instead, he was sent to fight on the front lines of the war in Ukraine, Time reported.

  • The US State Department said it is “deeply concerned” that young Cubans are being deceived.

A Cuban teenager unwittingly found himself on the front lines of the war in Ukraine after accepting a job offer he received on WhatsApp to do “construction work” for the Russian military, according to Time magazine.

Alex Vegas Díaz, 19, and a friend were taken to a military base, outfitted with weapons, and then sent to fight, according to Time, which reviewed social media footage posted by Vegas Díaz.

In one of the videos, dated August 31, which went viral, Vegas Díaz can be seen in a Russian hospital recovering from an unspecified illness. According to Time, he said he was due to be sent back to the front upon recovery.

From his hospital bed, he pleaded to “help get us out of here,” adding: “What is happening in Ukraine is ugly—to see people with their heads open before you, to see how people are killed, feel the bombs falling next to you.”

According to Time, Vegas Díaz said in one video: “There are dead Cubans, there are missing Cubans, and this is not going to end until the war is over.”

He added: “We know that Cuba is aware and our advice to Cubans is not to come here. This is the craziest thing. Crazy. Don’t do it.”

Time reported that Vegas Díaz became part of a large operation that openly recruited hundreds of Cubans to join the Russian army to fight in Ukraine.

According to the magazine, the recruitment effort involved adverts for job contracts with the Ministry of Defence in Russia that began to appear on Cuban Facebook groups in June.

It said that recruits were offered 204,000 rubles, or $2,120 US dollars, to sign up.

Average monthly salaries in Cuba are dramatically lower, making it an enticing prospect.

Time reviewed the job contracts, which it said required a one-year commitment, but came with an enlistment fee and a payout for the families of recruits if they are killed in action.

The exact number of Cubans recruited through this initiative remains uncertain, with estimates provided to Time ranging from hundreds to more than a thousand.

Though Cuba’s foreign ministry described the recruitment effort as a “human trafficking network,” four Cuba experts and former US officials expressed skepticism to Time

They said that the Cuban government, a long-standing ally of Russia, may be using such language to maintain the appearance of a neutral stance in the Ukraine conflict, Time reported.

Regardless of the nature or provenance of the recruitment drive, there is concern in the US that recruits such as Vegas Díaz may have been deceived into accepting job offers.

The State Department said in a statement provided to Time that “we are deeply concerned that young Cubans may have been deceived and recruited to fight for Russia in its brutal full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and we continue to monitor this situation closely.”

The US State Department did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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