No, photo doesn't show 17-year-old girls being recruited into Ukraine's military

By: Annet Preethi Furtado
June 25 2024

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No, photo doesn't show 17-year-old girls being recruited into Ukraine's military

Screenshots of the viral claim that this image depicts underage military recruits joining Ukraine's military. (Source: Facebook/TikTok/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

Fact-Check

The Verdict False

The image depicts cadets attending a memorial service. Ukrainian law prohibits people from volunteering for military service until they are 18.

Claim ID 262e7869

What's the claim?

A photograph circulating online has been shared to claim that it depicts girls who have been enlisted in the Ukrainian army. The image portrays young women clad in military fatigues, standing in line with solemn expressions. 

The photo was shared on Facebook with the caption: "17-year-old girls being lined up to fight in the Ukrainian army. Zelensky is evil, why does the world allow this?" Another post claimed: "17-year-old Ukrainian girls are being recruited into Zelenskys military. Military recruiters from the 95th Brigade visited first-year students at Kiev National University. After holding an event dedicated to the brigade's fallen soldiers, officers encouraged students to join the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Shame on those who support the puppet regime of Kiev!"

On X (formerly Twitter), the image was shared with captions such as: "Young Ukrainian girls are now being forced into the military. Why aren't we hearing calls for a ceasefire and peace talks for Ukraine? Do they intend to kill everyone between 16 to 50 years old in Ukraine to satisfy their money laundering scheme?" This post garnered approximately 8,156,000 views.

Archives of this and other such posts can be found here and here.

Screenshots of social media posts. (Source: X/Facebook/Screenshot)

However, the photograph captures cadets attending a memorial service, not girls recruited into Ukraine's military. People in Ukraine cannot volunteer for military service until they reach the age of 18.

What are the facts?
We found that on June 11, 2024, the Military Institute of Taras Shevchenko National University (Kyiv University) posted the picture on Facebook (archived here) along with other photos. The caption in Ukrainian, when translated, explained that the pictures show a memorial for fallen graduates.

It added that Alexei Chubashev, a military journalism graduate and Major in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, passed away in Severodonetsk, Ukraine, two years ago. Oleksandr Marchuk, a psychology graduate and senior lieutenant in the 95th Separate Air Assault Brigade, died on June 10, 2023, near Lyman in the Donetsk region, the post said.

The caption mentions that the event was attended by Taras Shevchenko National University's Rector Vladimir Bugrov, military institute officials, officers, military chaplains, cadets, and relatives. The institute's military chaplain, Sergiy Dmitriyev, and other clergy led prayers at the memorial. 

On June 11, Ukrainian media outlet Kyiv Vlada published a report featuring the same image of the young women, stating that deceased graduates were commemorated at Taras Shevchenko National University. The ceremony was attended by the Rector of KNU Bugrov, management of the military institute, officers, military chaplains, cadets, and relatives who paid tribute to the fallen soldiers, it stated.

Furthermore, the students' uniforms prominently feature the Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University emblem on the left shirt sleeves. This emblem consists of a round olive shield with a golden (yellow) border, containing a smaller golden (yellow) shield in the center.

Screenshots of the uniforms worn by the students bearing the military institute's logo on the left shirt sleeves and the official emblem of the Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University. (Source: Facebook/Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University/Modified by Logically Facts)

Speaking to Reuters, a university spokesperson clarified that the photo was taken during a memorial for deceased graduates but shows cadets. 

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine states that the rank of "recruit" is assigned to non-commissioned officers (excluding cadets) who undergo a test upon contract acceptance, complete basic training, or are conscripted during mobilization while in training units. Cadets, graduates of military schools, receive military service training in higher military educational institutions, military educational units within higher education institutions, and institutions for advanced military education.

Speaking to Reuters, Taras Tkachenko, the university's interim press officer who took the photos, told them, "All the cadets shown in the photo are 18 years old." Tkachenko explained that the event was attended exclusively by first and second-year cadets from the department of military journalism, as well as the families of deceased alumni. After the event, the cadets resumed their studies. Tkachenko further stated that no active military personnel were present at the memorial.

Logically Facts has also contacted Taras Shevchenko National University and 95th Separate Polesian Air Assault Brigade for comment. This check will be updated if and when we receive a response.

Ukraine and military recruiting

Contrary to claims on social media, Ukrainians under 18 are not recruited into the Ukrainian military. Ukrainian law strictly prohibits individuals under 18 from volunteering for military service, with the minimum enlistment age set at 18.

On May 18, a new Ukrainian Mobilization Act took effect, changing the rules for mobilization, military service, and military registration. The new legislation lowered the mobilization age (the age range within which individuals are eligible to be called up for compulsory military service) from 27 to 25 and introduced mandatory basic military service for individuals aged 18 to 25, reported Euronews.

Therefore, assertions implying that 17-year-old Ukrainian girls are being recruited into Zelenskyy's military are incorrect.

The verdict

The image captures cadets attending a memorial service at Taras Shevchenko National University for fallen graduates rather than any recruitment into Ukraine's military ranks. Under Ukrainian law, individuals cannot volunteer for military service until they reach the age of 18. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false. 

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