Real Photos and Fake News: Russian Propaganda Invented the Snow White Women’s Battalion

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On February 29, 2024, a number of Russian resources spread fake news that the 119th Territorial Defence Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced recruitment of girls and women aged 16 to 30 years to the Snow White Women’s Battalion. The message is illustrated by photos that features women as civilians with weapons and the military. The fake news was spread by websites and Telegram channels, which are part of the system of Russian military propaganda and dissemination of disinformation. They regularly generate and spread fakes. 

The last two sites on this list ( and are part of the Portal Kombat network, created to spread Russian disinformation and propaganda. The work of this network was reported by the General Secretariat for Defence and National Security of France (report on Portal Kombat) in February 2024 and the Ukrainian Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security (report on the ZOV/Pravda network (Portal Kombat)) in December 2023.The authors of the fake message on the “women’s battalion” used photos published on the Facebook page of the Regional Department of the Territorial Defence Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine “North” on February 26. The publication covers a training on handling weapons for civilians, which was conducted in Chernihiv by military instructors—servicemen of the 119th brigade of territorial defense.

In the context of the full-scale Russian aggression, many Ukrainian men and women are trying to learn how to handle weapons to be able to defend themselves and their country. Similar trainings are held in every major Ukrainian city. They are mostly organized by non-governmental organizations with the support of the military and local authorities. Everyone can take part in these trainings. Recruitment to the ranks of military units is not carried out at these trainings.

 There are no units consisting exclusively of women in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other components of the Defence Forces of Ukraine. More than 40,000 women serve in the AFU. They serve in different units and in different positions on an equal footing with men. Women between the ages of 18 and 60 have the right to sign a contract with the AFU. The service of persons under the age of 18 in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations of Ukraine is prohibited by the Law.

The recruitment of teenagers into the Ukrainian army is a fiction of Russian propagandists.

This is not the first time that Russian propagandists have used photos of training sessions with the participation of women, teenagers, and older persons, visits of the military to educational institutions, as evidence of the formation of “women’s,” “children’s,” or “retirees” battalions in Ukraine.

The goal of fake makers is to demoralize Ukrainians by promoting the message that “there is no one left to fight in Ukraine anymore,” as well as to discredit the Ukrainian state in the eyes of the world community. After all, the involvement of minors in the conduct of hostilities is a gross violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and is inherent in dictatorial regimes and illegal armed formations.

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