A Viral Video Distorts the Truth About Ukraine Conscripting Women

Future officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine take the oath to the Ukrainian people on September 8, 2023 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Almost half of the graduates are women with most of them planning to continue their military career in Ukraine. (Photo by Andriy Zhyhaylo/Obozrevatel/Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images)

A viral Facebook video with more than 16,000 views claims Ukraine is now conscripting women ages of 18 to 60 into military service. “Ukraine has run out of men, and now it’s turning to women and younger boys to fill the ranks,” the video says. “Ukraine has passed a new law on military registration of all women conscripts, it’s now enforced as of the first of October so they are ready to go. … They need the women, they need more meat in the meat grinder.”

The video originates from Redacted News, a media site run by former Fox & Friends Weekend presenter Clayton Morris and his wife, Natali Morris. The site’s YouTube channel has 2.14 million subscribers, and videos frequently receive hundreds of thousands of views. The video was shared on Facebook by Darion Gilbert, a user with 39,000 followers who regularly posts videos on the Ukraine war that often spread false or misleading information. 

The video relies on one nugget of truth but omits essential details—a pattern particularly common to Russian-related misinformation. In early September, Fedir Venislavskyi, a representative of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, told the Ukrainian parliament that women with medical educations would be required to register at military enlistment offices beginning on October 1, 2023. CNN reports that a Facebook post by Ukraine’s armed forces on the same day stated that “All medical women, these are doctors, nurses, dentists, midwives, pharmacists, ages 18 to 60, will be required to register for military service starting October 1.” 

Registered women acquire the status of conscripts, but will not be barred from leaving the country unless they are mobilized. Any who are mobilized will need special permission in order to temporarily depart Ukraine. A travel ban imposed on qualifying Ukrainian men has been in effect from February 2022 onward. Venislavskyi also noted that there are currently no plans to require women in non-medical professions to register.

Though the Ukrainian military is predominantly made up of male soldiers, Ukrainian women have a robust history of military service. During World War II, about 127,000 Ukrainian women served in the Red Army. Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, nearly a quarter of Ukraine’s military was female, and thousands are now serving on the front lines.

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