It has been nearly six weeks since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine. As of April 3, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded 1,417 Ukrainians killed and 2,038 injured across the country. Gruesome images from Bucha and stories of deadly attacks in Mariupol have dominated news reports around the world.
On April 7, Ukraine appealed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for more weapons to help in its fight against Russia. NATO is an international organization of 30 member states.
Putin has historically been against NATO's involvement in Eastern Europe, specifically in former Soviet Union States. Ukraine became independent of the Soviet Union in 1991, and is not a member of NATO.
Since the invasion, NATO has said they will not send troops to Ukraine nor police any no-fly zone, because doing so could escalate that conflict with Russia. Individual member countries are supplying anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, as well as equipment and medical supplies.
Despite the fact NATO has said they will not send troops, online users shared a rumor that NATO’s Allied Land Commander and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier Jr. was in Ukraine recently and was captured by Russian forces in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
Was U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier Jr. captured in Ukraine by the Russian Army?
No, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Cloutier was not captured in Ukraine. A NATO spokesperson told VERIFY Cloutier has not been in Ukraine since July 2021.
WHAT WE FOUND
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier Jr., who also commands NATO's Allied Land Command, refuted claims he was captured in Ukraine in the comment section of a post on his LinkedIn page.
In response to one person asking if he could comment on reports that he and others were captured by the Russian military, Cloutier wrote: “These rumors are completely false.” VERIFY reached out to Cloutier on LinkedIn, but did not receive a response.
On April 5, Cloutier was hosting NATO’s Land Operations Working Group in Izmir, Turkey, NATO told VERIFY in an email. He was never captured and is “alive and well,” the email said. Cloutier assumed command of NATO’s Allied Land Command in August 2020. U.S. military officers can serve as NATO commanders.
Cloutier’s last visit to Ukraine was a visit to Kyiv in July 2021, NATO told VERIFY. That was prior to Russia’s invasion.
Photos of Cloutier speaking at the event in Izmir on April 5, 2022, can be seen on the official Facebook and Twitter accounts for NATO’s Allied Land Command.
VERIFY also confirmed the group photo posted to the Allied Land Command's social media account was taken from Comhuriyet Boulevard in Izmir by comparing the buildings in the background of the photo to images on Google Maps.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.