Many Ukrainian civilians are being enlisted to safeguard their country against Russia’s invasion after Ukraine’s Defence Minister was quoted as saying “Anyone who is ready to keep weapons, join the ranks of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine”. As Russia continues to bomb Kyiv and other cities, social media is flooded with unverified allegations and speculation about the constantly shifting ground situation. In light of these events images of women dressed as soldiers are going viral claiming to be from this past week. The caption reads ‘Women fighting in the Ukrainian military against the invasion by Russia.’ Newschecker has found these images to be old.
Images shared by Twitter user @patheditsindia with the caption ‘Women at the forefront against the Russian aggression!’ with the hashtags #Ukraineunderattack #Ukraine #russianinvasion have garnered 2,683 likes and 337 retweets on the platform
Newschecker found similar claims with different captions.
Overnight, the city of Kyiv was hit with multiple blasts as Russia continued its attack and their troops moved further into Ukrainian territory attacking from the East, North and South. Media reports claim that they have been met with strong resistance by the Ukrainian military, even as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video “We won’t lay down our arms. We will defend our state.”
Women in Ukraine take up arms
Ukraine is calling upon civilians between the ages 20 and 50 to join the fight by distributing weapons to civilians and creating a paramilitary force, answering this call many women have joined the fight against the Russian invasion. Among those who have answered the call is Ukrainian parliament member Kira Rudik.
Ukrainian writer and soldier, Iryna Tsvila who was a mother of 5 has reportedly died on 24th February as she repulsed an armoured assault by Russian enemies near the Ukrainian capital. Women have been central to the resistance movement posed by Ukraine since Russia decided to annex Crimea in 2014 and backed separatists in the Donbas region. Women in Ukraine now make up almost 10% of the Armed Forces serving alongside men in combat. They were assured equal rights in the military as their male counterparts under a 2018 law, allowing them to study in military colleges to achieve higher ranks.
Ukrainian Parliament member, Kira Rudik spoke with MSNBC recently where she explained how she is learning to use weapons in order to join the fight to defend her country against the invasion by Russia.
She also tweeted saying ‘I learn to use #Kalashnikov and prepare to bear arms. It sounds surreal as just a few days ago it would never come to my mind. Our #women will protect our soil the same way as our #men. Go #Ukraine!’
Newschecker conducted a Google reverse image search on the viral images to ascertain its authenticity and found an article from The Sun uploaded on 16th December, 2021 which contained one of the images in the viral social media post.
According to the article, the image is from December 2021 when Russian troops began gathering at the border of Ukraine threatening an invasion.
Newschecker also found a tweet by EuroMaidan Press, a non-government organisation that describes itself as an online English independent newspaper launched by Ukrainian volunteers in 2014. The tweet was uploaded on 26th November, 2017 along with the caption ‘Sisters Katerina and Zoryana, Ukrainian warfighters on the front lines near #Avdiivka. The sign behind them flying the Ukrainian flag says: “Avdiivka is Ukraine”. The tweet also had an image of two women soldiers which matches with the viral social media post.
Upon further investigation, Newschecker found a post on a popular social media website Reddit in the subreddit r/MilitaryPorn posted by user u/Commissar44 with the caption ‘Cold days in Ukraine’ along with an image of a woman soldier which matches the viral social media post. This post was uploaded 2 years ago according to the website.
While it is true that some Ukrainian women have joined the fight against the Russian invasion, Newschecker’s investigation has found the images in the viral social media post to be old and not connected to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Result: False Context/ Missing Context
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